A Charming Savannah House Is a Delightful Mix of Old and New

published Oct 11, 2019

A Charming Savannah House Is a Delightful Mix of Old and New

published Oct 11, 2019
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Name: Betsy and Manny (plus 2-year-old twins, Jordi and Axel, and pup, Riley)
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, owned

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When Betsy and Manny bought this house, it was in bad condition. Having been previously owned by someone out of state, the former rental house was totally run down. “The roof was shot and there were buckets in the living room to catch the rain. Plaster walls were damaged. Squirrels were nesting in the eaves. We didn’t have a working fridge,” describes Betsy of the house horror show they saw when they moved in. Determined to turn this house back into a loved family home—but on a budget—they did a lot of renovation work themselves. They did plenty of wall painting, added new light fixtures, did the bathroom tiling themselves, refinished hardwood floors, and even installed the butcher-block kitchen counters.

Credit: Minette Hand

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I like patina on things—my mother is so confused about my attachment to the French chairs in our living room. I think to her they look shabby, and they are! But shabby isn’t necessarily bad. I like a worn-in rug or a piece of furniture that’s had a few lives already. With two little boys and a dog, we can’t be too precious about what’s in the house.

Inspiration: House & Garden UK. I love British country house style—it’s eclectic, lived-in, and heavy on toile and chintz. 

Credit: Minette Hand

Favorite Element: We actually like that the house is separated into rooms rather than open plan. We get why people like being able to see the living room from the kitchen, for instance; but it’s also nice to be able to close off certain spaces and keep the boys away from the kitchen while one of us is making dinner. 

Biggest Challenge: The 110-year-old windows. They’re charming, but they need to be re-glazed. 

What Friends Say: People have told us our house looks like the one from the movie “Up”. We take it as a compliment—even if our exterior paint colors are not what we would have chosen. As an aside, cartoon characters have the coolest houses. If you’ve never seen “Kazoops!” (a children’s show available on Netflix in the U.S.), check out that house…

Credit: Minette Hand

Biggest Embarrassment: We haven’t gotten to the backyard yet. It’s a small, neglected dirt pit. We watch Monty Don garden shows and dream of turning it into a space where our boys and Riley can play one day.

Proudest DIY: Where to begin? When we bought this house, it was a run-down student rental. The roof was shot and there were buckets in the living room to catch the rain. Plaster walls were damaged. Squirrels were nesting in the eaves. We didn’t have a working fridge. The previous owners live out-of-state and hadn’t laid eyes on the house in years. They had no idea what state it was in—or if they knew, they didn’t care. We really believed it could be a family home again, though. To stay on budget, we refinished hardwood floors, painted, and assembled and hung new chandeliers. We also tiled the bathrooms ourselves, and Manny installed the butcher-block counters in the kitchen with my stepdad. It hasn’t been an easy road; our twins weren’t even a year old when we moved in. But we’re happy that our house is starting to get back some of its former glory.  

Biggest Indulgence: The ‘goat people’ paintings in the dining room. Large gilded paintings of human-animal hybrids are probably not great investments when you have a limited budget and a whole house to restore. But the dining room really needed them!                  

Credit: Minette Hand

Best Advice: Living in an old house, it’s tempting to fill it with old stuff. I often give into that temptation and shop a lot of vintage markets and estate sales. But I’ve come to see that I like a room best when there’s contemporary stuff mixed in. For instance, I had a bit of buyer’s remorse after we brought home the vintage Baker dining table and breakfront. It’s quality furniture and fits the home, but I wished for a while that I’d just bought something modern and unfussy. Then we swapped out the dining chairs for the white ones we have now and it pulled things together for me. 

Dream Sources: I would love to cover the house in Scalamandré wallpaper. And I wouldn’t turn down a DWR shopping spree.


Credit: Minette Hand


  • All trim inside the house is painted BM Simply White in semi-gloss 
  • Hallway — The color was here when we moved in; we got a custom color match for touch-ups
  • Downstairs LR, DR, kitchen and snug — BM Simply White 
  • Downstairs bath — BM Super White 
  • Blue bedroom — The color was here when we moved in
  • Master bedroom — BM Fossil (we cut the gallon with about a quart of white paint, so it’s a shade or two lighter than the chip color)
  • Dressing room — BM Desert Twilight 
  • Boys’ bedroom — BM Simply White 
  • Upstairs bath — BM Super White
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Standing closet and French commode — ​Vintage
  • Baskets – HomeGoods
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Alcott oxford black sofa — Article
  • French side chairs, rug, trunk, and sideboard — Vintage
  • RITVA Curtains — IKEA 
  • Chandelier — Gallery803
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Dining table and breakfront — Vintage  
  • Rug — Vintage
  • Chandelier — Gallery803
  • Dining chairs — Target
  • Paintings — We bought these at a local estate sale
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Rug, artwork, table and chairs — Vintage 
  • Baskets — Mostly purchased from estate sales
  • Delft style tiles — Wayfair
  • Drainboard sink — Etsy
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Furniture – Vintage 
  • Duvet – IKEA 
  • Curtains – Anthropologie 
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Cribs – IKEA
  • Rug and dresser – Vintage 
Credit: Minette Hand


  • Furniture – Vintage
  • Duvet sets – H&M Home

Thanks, Betsy and Manny!

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