While a young Czech girl spent her summers at a family cottage built by her great-grandfather in the country outside of Prague, playing hide and seek with her great-grand mum and eating cherries right off the tree, halfway around the globe a young Florida boy, immersed in the world of NASA, was developing a lifelong love of space travel. Three decades later, Daniela and Damon’s disparate pasts come together in a home filled with collections of sentimental objects that keep their individual histories very much a part of their everyday lives.
An extensive collection of Czech art and meaningful objects from Daniela’s past keep her connected to her family and transport her back to precious moments from her childhood. The original lock and key set from her beloved family cottage hangs amongst a grouping of metal items carefully displayed on the wall below their staircase. Her grandmother’s bundt pans decorate the kitchen walls. “Looking at the bundt pans that my grandma used,” she says, “brings back that smell of fresh-baked bundt cake and my grandfather’s aftershave; such distinct smells just flood in.”
Drawings of astronauts and rockets, autographed by the likes of Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn, and an entire wall display of photos and images related to space tell of Damon’s connection to NASA. Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and step-father, who have all worked on space-related projects, Damon spent two years working at the Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Hall of Fame, where he was able to meet many of the astronauts he grew up admiring.
Today Daniela, a sailing event coordinator at a yacht club, and Damon, a sailmaker, are creating a new history of their own in the City-by-the-Sea. Unique nautical touches – curtains made by Damon with sailcloth and a powder room they wallpapered together in nautical charts and outfitted with a porthole mirror – speak of the their shared industry and love of the ocean. Their joint love of antiques and salvaged materials, coupled with impressive DIY skills, makes for a home filled with one-of-a-kind pieces. The talented duo have either built, refinished, or repurposed much of their furniture. Their dining room table top is an old barn door, painted and distressed by Daniela and resting on legs and a frame built by Damon. Oak planks, left behind by a previous owner, are now radiator covers, a wine rack and bookshelves. An antique post office sorting unit is now shoe storage in their mud room.
Although their home is filled with numerous collections, everything seems to have a place. Daniela’s milk glass collection is housed in a china cabinet they lovingly transformed from a Pepto-Bismol pink to a soft yellow and lined with blue toile. A built-in wall unit in the living room, custom-made by Damon, holds books, photographs, small artworks and ceramic statues made by a friend of Daniela’s grandfather.
Now Daniela and Damon have created a new world of their own, imbued with the spirit of their ancestors, to raise their daughter Sidonie. An oil painting Daniela always cherished, gifted to her and her new daughter by her grandfather when Sidonie was born, ensures that the past will live on into the future. Daniela’s deceased grandmother, painted in a striking pin-up style in the 1940‘s, stares out from a canvas on the Burton living room wall. “In all the photographs we took when I was younger at my grandparents’ house, that painting was always in the background. It’s wonderful that it is now in the background of our family photographs.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Vintage, eclectic, worldly.
Inspiration: My inspiration came from the love of art and the allure of vintage. I love when things have history. I guess that is why we fell in love with the house. You can feel the years of the house. I wasn’t going for a ‘look’ — when we saw something and I thought it was cool, we got it and tried to make it work. Everything is mismatched, but somehow it all comes together.
Favorite Element: The bundt pan collection; a lot of them are from my grandma’s kitchen in the Czech Republic! Every time I look at them it just brings me back to when I was a little girl.
Biggest Challenge: Building the wall unit in the living room
What Friends Say: Where did you get that? Damon really made that?
Biggest Embarrassment: The stone corner in our living room — we are planning on getting a wood burning stove, but just haven’t pulled the plug. So, we have a stone corner. It looks really odd!
Proudest DIY: Wallpapering the downstairs bathroom with old nautical charts.
Biggest Indulgence: The fabric we got for the blinds in the dining room. We got it at the Fabric Connection and it was $40/yrd, but we were in LOVE. It was imported from England and it was just perfect!!
Best Advice: Don’t limit yourself to one kind of style. The more you mix, the more of your personality shines through.
Dream Sources: Restoration Resource, Restoration Hardware, any antique store!!
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- All Glidden
- Kitchen - Wispy Peach
- Mudroom walls/Porch ceiling - Aquabelle
- Dinning room - Lemon Ice
- Living Room/Hallway/Upstairs landing - Vapor
- Sid's Room - Classic Key Lime
- Spare Bedroom - Ground Nutmeg
- Our bedroom - Celery Sticks
- Upstairs bathroom - Lucky Shamrock
- light - hundi lamp from Pottery Barn
- metal wall décor - antique shops (The Armory and Memory Lane) and lock from my childhood summer house
- small wooden paintings - gifts from my relatives in the Czech Republic
- signed astronaut line drawing - Damon drew it while at NASA space camp and had all the astronauts autograph it
- Rug - Kalim rug from Pottery Barn
- Nautical Charts - New York Yacht Club
- Light fixture - Home Depot, spray-painted
- Porthole Mirror - Wickford Nautical Consignment
- Rope, pulleys on the back of the toilet - Wickford Nautical Consignment
- couch - IKEA
- coffee table - Pottery Barn
- side tables - Pottery Barn and Damon’s uncle built the other one
- green light on table - antique shop in Newport
- frogs inside table - all over the world. I collect frogs from all my travels.
- Prints on wall all from the Czech Republic
- Ballerina painting is from the Czech Republic. It’s a painting of my grandma. she was the artist’s muse.
- Statues inside wall unit are all from the Czech Republic. My grandfather’s friend is the artist behind the statues. She no longer makes them to sell, only for family friends.
- Kalim rug - my uncle brought it back for me from Syria
- Table - table top is an old barn door from New Bedford Architectural Salvage, the frame and legs Damon built and I painted with primer and distressed so they appeared old.
- Wine rack - Damon made using wood he found in the shed that came with the house.
- Mirror - my friend found the frame in his basement and was going to toss it. We salvaged it and I had it made into a mirror.
- China cabinet - we found it at the Salvation Army; we refinished the outside of it (original color was Pepto-Bismol pink) and covered the inside with toile fabric I found at Walmart.
- Milk glass collection - from all over, but mainly from antique shops in Newport (The Armory, Memory Lane, Second Helpings - Bristol RI) and my best friend always buys me a piece of milk glass for Christmas. Some of the pieces came from my mother-in-law and my grandmother-in-law.
- Light above the table - IKEA
- Buffet table - a birthday present from my friend who found it in his basement. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure!
- Rug - Pottery barn
- Roman blinds - Damon built them using the fabric we purchased at the Fabric Connection
- Candy holder - has been in my family since the early 1900’s
- light - Home Depot
- counter top - IKEA
- back splash - subway tiles from Home Depot
- bundt pan collection - mainly from my grandma’s kitchen in the Czech Republic, but some pieces are from antique stores we visited while in England
- Wall unit - IKEA
- Curtains - Damon made out of sailcloth
- Rug - Pottery Barn
- Watercolors - Damon’s grandma painted them
- Shoe unit - New Bedford Architectural Salvage
- Furniture - IKEA
- Bed Spread - TJ Maxx
- Curtains as closet door - Damon made them with fabric we got at Jo-Ann Fabric
- Mirror - TJ Maxx
- Chest - belonged to Damon’s grandfather
- shower curtain - Pottery Barn
- Sink and cabinet - IKEA
- Medicine Cabinet - Van Dykes Restores
- Subway tile - Home Depot
- daybed - IKEA
- mirror - WalMart
- dresser - the dresser came with the house, I refinished it and painted it white, and distressed it to give it a vintage feel.
- shelves - Michael’s Crafts, and we painted white
- sea shell water colors - I painted
- Roman Shades - made by Damon using fabric purchased at the Fabric Connection
- dresser - part of a set that we have that belonged to Damon’s great grandma
- watercolors - painted by me and my dear friend
- chair - IKEA
- green rug - TJ Maxx
- lamb skin rug - IKEA
- Little chair - estate sale in Newport
- Baskets for toys - Colonial Mills
- Roman Shades - made by Damon using fabric purchased at the Fabric Connection
- Stained Glass - Memory Lane
- SMB - Billy Mac Designs - rummaged in his attic for old lettering he used for signs throughout Newport
Thanks, Daniela & Damon!
(Images: Jacqueline Marque)
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