Straddling Centuries

June 2023 View more

A 100-year-old Hinsdale house gets a refresh that blends old and new

The foyer of the Hinsdale home

After years—or even decades—living in the same house, it’s easy to become stuck in the status quo: same furniture arrangements, same paint colors, same accessories. This was the case for a Hinsdale couple, who decided it was time to remodel their kitchen and family room after many years.

With this project complete, they faced a new problem: The rest of the first floor no longer seemed in sync with the remodeled areas. The couple felt like the remaining rooms looked like “grandmother’s house,” says Stephanie Sarris, principal designer and owner of Hinsdale-based Bellehaven Designs. When they decided that an entire first-floor redesign was in order, Sarris was hired to complete the project.

This, however, wasn’t to be your standard home refresh. The couple kept much of their existing furniture, which consisted of good-quality antiques and investment pieces that had served them well, were much loved, and fit the character of their 100-plus-year-old home.

“These clients have good taste and are lucky to own good furniture,” says Sarris, who notes that this approach is also more sustainable and budget friendly. She added paint, wallpaper, and upholstery in uplifting colors and prints and planned reupholstering of key pieces in fresh fabrics.

The designer kept the good vibes going by building on colors and styles used in the earlier phase of the project and adding colorful artworks that exude joy and happiness. “The most challenging part of working with any new client is learning their taste,” she says. “In this case, we were able to build upon our previous work together.”

1. (Above) Cole & Son wallpaper in the style of William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement brightens up the foyer in this 100-plus-year-old Hinsdale home. Stephanie Sarris of Bellehaven Designs refreshed built-in cabinetry with Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy to sync with a previously completed kitchen redesign. The flower-shaped light fixture was purchased from Visual Comfort & Co.


The sitting room of the Hinsdale home

2. Sapphire blue swivel chairs by the Charles Stewart Company were among the few new pieces of furniture added in this refresh. The clients instead chose to reupholster many existing quality pieces, such as the sitting-room love seat (seen from behind). Local artist Maureen Claffy’s piece Tree of Life adds color and joy to the mostly neutral room.


A pair of vases in the Hinsdale home

3. Old and new elements harmonize after Sarris’s redesign, such as a pair of West Elm vases atop a sideboard already owned by the clients and a century-old French chandelier with three different kinds of hand-carved crystals.


The dining room of the Hinsdale home

4. Several different patterns in teal coexist happily in the dining room, including a leafy William Morris Co. wallpaper and a Dash & Albert rug made of recycled sari silk. Sarris chose white accessories to counterbalance the formal furniture. Hinsdale artist Maureen Claffy, a friend of Sarris’s, created the artwork (titled Expansion) that hangs above the buffet.


Windows in the Hinsdale home

5. Navy and teal paint combine for a lively vibe in the sunroom, continuing a color motif found throughout the first floor. Sarris, the designer, corralled plants in a trough for a neat look and replaced the hardware in the windows, which had been painted over many times throughout the decades.


A unique lamp in the dining room of the Hinsdale home

6. A whimsical Anthropologie tree-and-bird lamp keeps the dining room from becoming too stuffy.


The decorated coffee table of the Hinsdale home

7. Sarris bought interesting and attractive books from Amazon to enliven the family room coffee table, artfully combining them with gold West Elm trays and Anthropologie candles, as well as items from the homeowners’ personal collection.


A sunny window in the Hinsdale home

8. A sunny window is now a favorite perch for reading or for cozying up with a drink. Two Victorian-style chairs, previously decorated with needlepoint, have new life after being reupholstered in a cut velvet botanical fabric by Osborne & Little (see “Time to Reup?”).


Photos: Michael Kaskel