As Havenly’s VP of Creative and Design, Shelby Girard is no stranger to home renovations. So when the pandemic hit, she and her husband didn’t hesitate to purchase a historic Norwalk, Connecticut house that needed some serious TLC.

“We were not really planning on moving, but with everything that happened in the last year, we were looking for more space and projects to work on during the weekends,” Girard explains. That’s exactly what they got with their new property, which was built in 1911 and has undergone countless additions since.

Fortunately, the place had solid bones and didn’t require any structural upgrades, but the finishes were incredibly dated — especially in the kitchen. “It had the classic tile countertops, which I never understood, and the wall ovens were really old,” Girard describes. “The fridge was kind of broken and they didn’t have an island, so we knew we needed to update it functionally, too.”

With some good ole elbow grease and a clear aesthetic vision, the couple was able to completely transform the culinary quarters into a dreamy gathering spot. Here’s how they pulled it off.

Before view of a white kitchen

Cream kitchen corner with shelf and vintage art

Adding Warmth

In terms of color palette, there was no question that Girard would go with a range of calming neutrals. “I didn’t want to do an all-white kitchen,” she insists. “I’ve done that before and I wanted it to feel a little bit warmer and more inviting.”

She achieved that welcoming vibe with Semihandmade DIY Shaker doors that are painted in a cozy mushroom tone, adorned with antiqued-by-hand brass hardware, and topped with an Imperial Danby stone that features soft brown and grey veining. “People are scared of marble because it does etch and leave marks and it’s harder to maintain, but I’d rather have something that feels used and lived-in,” Girard admits.

Cream kitchen with wood island with seating

Going Euro

In terms of influences, English kitchens were Girard’s main source of inspiration. She channeled the Brits with an ornate unlacquered brass bridge faucet, an ILVE statement range, and on-counter cabinets. “I think they’re a nice alternative to uppers, especially if you have enough prep space elsewhere,” she muses.

Before view of kitchen back wall and stairs

View of cream and white kitchen corner with stairs

Mixing and Matching

Girard intentionally blended old and new for a look that seems true to the original construction, yet still modern. She kept existing wood paneling and glass cupboards, where she now displays beautiful serveware, and incorporated vintage accents like an alabaster lamp with a sloped shade, Turkish salt and pepper grinders, and framed art.

In contrast, a streamlined Pottery Barn high-top table, Jamie Young spotlight sconces, and an Athena Calderone-style backsplash shelf are rather contemporary. “It’s a trend, but I think it’s going to be around for a while,” Girard adds. With eras and textures flawlessly mingling, she strikes a perfect balance.

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