One of my favorite things about blogging is the incredible people and new friends you meet along the way, and I absolutely love featuring spectacular home tours of fellow design enthusiasts. Today, I am thrilled to feature the home of Elizabeth “Beth” Chadwick in Orlando. I met Beth through my blog, and I immediately knew we were kindred spirits. Beth’s home is a beautifully restored Colonial Revival built in 1925, known as the S. Howard Atha House. Nestled on nearly one acre, Beth’s grounds are evidence of an incredible green thumb, and her kitchen with its blue La Cornue range has me weak in the knees! Let’s take a tour and meet Beth…
Q: Please tell me about your gorgeous home and how did you know it was the one for you?
A: My husband and I had been searching for a home for almost two years without much success. In Orlando there is a broad mix of styles all the way from Mediterranean to modern and everything in between. I actually was very lucky and accidentally came upon the home we now live in. It may sound corny but she had me at Hello! It has a timeless elegance and the moment I walked through the door I fell in love. She’s filled with beautiful details including dentil crown molding, French doors with crystal door knobs, hardwood floors, carved wood brackets, fluted doric columns, built in bookcases with leaded glass doors, a cupola with a copper weather vane, a split stairway… all situated on an acre of land near downtown Orlando with an Urban flair. Built in 1925 by S. Howard Atha one of the founders and developers of the College Park Neighborhood in Orlando, Florida, the estate is a Colonial Revival, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. She has a grand old style for this area but I grew up in New England and she reminded me of home. Fortunately for me, my husband and children all fell in love as well… or at least that’s what they told me!
Q: How do you define your style?
A: I would say that I am a little bit of a traditionalist at heart. My recipe is to start with the traditional bones and then anchor it with unique antique pieces and as well add some sentimental touches that often reflect great family memories (Which sometimes means too many tchotchkes). My designing is a continuum as I love to add something new and shiny, make it pop with color (PINK), layer it with texture and finish it off with greenery or orchids. I love to create and recreate vignettes depending on my moods and what I run across. I also go beyond the walls of our home and decorate our yard as if it’s another room.
Q: Do you have any professional interior design training?
A: I’m not a professional designer nor have I had any formal training, but I have a tremendous excitement for design and I’m always observing, learning, and evolving. I’ve had a passion for design since a very young age (In fact I still feel very young!) and I’ve been blessed with a creative eye, which I think was inherited from my Mother who had an art background and my grandfather who was the Vice President of Jordan Marsh, spending most of his career traveling the world buying amazing merchandise for the department store and always returning with beautiful and unique treasures which I’m fortunate enough to now have as part of my designs. I also am influenced by the Dorothy Draper style and Chinoiserie which is all about color and texture.
I’ve been known to rearrange things in my friend’s homes, and most of the time without even asking them! Be careful if you invite me to your house. I’ve been helping friends and family with their homes for years and recently I’ve been doing some redesigning for clients (Which means someone is actually paying me to do what I love!!!!). Incredible!
Q: What are your favorite pieces of furniture, accessories, art, etc. Do you like hunting for vintage pieces and antiques, or do you prefer new?
A: This is like having your children ask which one is your favorite! What puts a smile on my face are things like having our children’s art work beautifully framed, a display of a wonderful collection of Menus from a French Cruise Line that my grandfather took to his buying trips to Europe in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. They’re written in French and have beautiful art work on each cover. My families silver baby cups, a large brass peacock which occasionally has been caught wearing some of my jewelry! My colorful Foo dogs. An exquisite Chinoiserie bowl my grandfather brought home from China. All of my blue and white. A beautiful photograph of my mother in an antique silver frame which I treasure. The leather chair in the family room because that’s where I can always find my handsome husband! Almost everything around our home has a little story to go with it that makes me smile. And that’s why I love the adventure of a hunt… my partners in crime are my three girlfriends and my daughter. We’ve been known to pack up the car up at 4am and hit the road to Antique Shows and Flea Markets across the south. Each of us bring something different to the table so it’s always so exciting to see what we all come back with in tow! As much as I love things with a history, there are so many beautiful new designs as well. I think every room looks better with a blending of the two.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: For me, decorating a home is like telling the story of your life. I’m inspired by colors, patterns, geometry, textures and the fashions. Nature is another huge inspiration! When I’m hunting for new ideas and designs, I’ll often spot something that catches my eye and won’t sleep for days! until I put all the pieces together around it (Ok, that’s a little dramatic). We’re all so spoiled nowadays to have the design bloggers like Andrea from The Glam Pad at our finger tips who spend hours upon days searching for images and creating ideas to share with and inspire us. And, then we can form ideas from them and turn it into our own creations. Back in the day when everyone read magazines, I used to rip out hundreds of pages of designs that caught my eye for future reference. In fact, I still have that folder in my bedside table and take it out occasionally to review and I’m always am so surprised that I still love every page.
Q: Who are you favorite interior designers?
A: I follow and admire so many designers but a few of my favorites would be Everything Miles Redd! Tricia Guild’s mix of color and pattern. Mary McDonald’s sophistication. Bunny Williams – I’d like to have an “Affair” with her house! Danielle Rollin’s beautiful flair and elegance. Classic David Hick’s for his use of bold colors and fabrics. And his daughter India Hicks with her eclectic, comfortable island style. The whimsical bohemian elegance of Tracy Porter (Who should be my best friend BTW). Carolyn Roehm, ooooh that blue and white! And the ever so chic Ranah Seyda who sprinkled some of her magic into our home when we first moved in.
Q: What renovations and improvements did you make to your home?
A: We’ve added our touches to almost every part of the estate both inside and out but all the while trying to keep the integrity of the original design. We did the usual, a little blush, lipstick, and a touch of Botox (Just to freshen her up!!) including painting, wallpapering and removing carpeting in order to expose the beautiful underlying hardwood floors which were refinished. We also did several significant interior projects along the way always keeping the genre of the house in mind. The first was an extensive kitchen renovation with Calcutta marble counters, a hand painted checkerboard floor and as well we added my favorite – a Provence Blue La Cornue range. We then turned a small eating area adjacent to the kitchen into a cozy wine room with custom cabinetry topped off with a tin ceiling and an armillary chandelier. I then headed upstairs and enlarged our Master bedroom suite and completely remodeled the bathroom. The walls are hand painted and we created an oversized steam shower all done in Calcutta marble (I had to do at least one thing for my husband!). In addition, we did an extensive refurbishment of both fireplaces from top to bottom. The one in the living room was made more formal with a black onyx marble and the other with hand made tiles made in Vermont that mimic the pattern on the original ceiling fixture in the “Florida room” also referred to as a family room. Both original mantels are classic in design with a decorative urn motif adorned with garland and at either end are fluted doric columns with decorative carved wood bundles of wheat above them.
The exterior grounds of the estate are very special to me and I had an incredible amount of fun in designing an outdoor experience from both a landscaping and entertainment perspective. We built a porte-cochere and extended two rather plain looking porches into more elegant entrance ways that include very relaxing sitting areas.
The pool house was here when we purchased the home but was unfinished. It’s a new build so we kept the decor a little more current and relaxed. We added natural travertine tile on the floors to make it more inviting, updated the bathroom and added bamboo shades but the piece de resistance was an Empire Turquoise Chandelier made by the original designer – the fabulous Marjorie Skouras (My electrician is still recovering from having to put that up!). Outside of the pool house we designed two Pergolas alongside of the rectangular swimming pool along with a summer kitchen that all serves as a wonderful entertaining area.
There is also a Carriage House that was built in 1928 that has a three garage bay and a one bedroom guest suite above with a full kitchen and living room. We updated her plumbing and electric, spruced her up with some paint and woven grass shades but tried to keep her fixtures all original. There are also many stories we hear around town about what went on up there back in the day…… oh boy!
Q: When you aren’t decorating what are your favorite hobbies?
A: I LOVE to cook. I love fashion. I love music, singing and dancing (In fact I’ve almost been famous several times – In my mind) . I love gardening indoors and outdoors. I love to read. And, of course, flipping through all of the wonderful design books. I’m a little embarrassed to say but I also love to clean. A clean house is happy house.
Now that we’re empty nesters, I can travel with my husband and we have so much fun together! Something dear to my heart is also my volunteer work at an organization here in Orlando that provides resources for over 1,000 people monthly including food, clothes, parenting, and life skills classes and much more…
But my favorite hobby of all is spending precious time with my family, especially my three year old granddaughter, Callahan (It almost defies the laws of nature since I’m still only 29!). I’m madly in love with her and she’s just perfect and a genius to boot:)
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: First of all thank you so much for the opportunity to share my home and my passion for decorating. As beautiful as our estate is, the real beauty of the home lays in the great experiences we’ve had here over the years such as our daughter’s wedding, numerous baby showers, our son’s homecoming party from his marine deployment and many other memorable moments with friends and family. There is so much more to this wonderful house that I couldn’t fit into this article such as our cats that basically run the estate (They came with the property!!), our air-conditioned dollhouse and many other interesting nuances but we’ll save those for another time..