Step Inside This 1911 Connecticut Home That Belongs in the European Countryside

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Morgan Goldberg

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Published on August 24, 2021

Havenly VP of Creative and Design Shelby Girard wasn’t planning on leaving Brooklyn. She and her husband Chris were just looking for a weekend getaway in Upstate New York, but their needs changed when the pandemic hit. Their 850-square-foot apartment suddenly didn’t feel big enough for both home life and remote work, so they pivoted to searching for a full-time residence in the greater tri-state area.

The couple already had plenty of renovation experience, so they weren’t deterred when they fell in love with a century-old Connecticut house that required significant updates. “Chris and I love transforming homes,” Shelby shares. “When we found this listing, it had a bit of everything we wanted, from history and character to lots of rooms to furnish, a big yard, and a remote setting that was still accessible from the city.”

Shelby Girard dining room

Though the place was riddled with outdated and gaudy finishes (think: purple animal print wallpaper), the duo valued its solid bones and closed-concept layout that would allow them to create distinct rooms. “We saw the home as a blank canvas and knew we wanted to personalize it,” recalls Shelby. With a specific vision, a lot of hard work, and a fair amount of late pinot gris fueled sourcing nights, she and Chris pulled off a masterpiece.

We saw the home as a blank canvas and knew we wanted to personalize it.
Shelby Girard Living Room
Shelby Girard warm minimalism

Going Neutral

From the start, Shelby was set on a neutral color palette (that she and Chris consistently match in wardrobe). The reliable combination of whites, creams, and sandy beiges instills in her a sense of calm. It’s also versatile and lets her integrate new items as she collects them. “I’ve played with trends, contrast, and pattern a bit more in the past, but wanted this home to feel more timeless, and like it suited the history and location,” she explains.

I’ve played with trends, contrast, and pattern a bit more in the past, but wanted this home to feel more timeless, and like it suited the history and location.
Shelby Girard home office
Shelby Girard home office 2

In terms of style, Shelby channeled a distinctive combo: “warm minimalism meets modern chateau.” Instead of drawing on purely classic New England influences, she looked to the European countryside for inspiration. She achieved the rustic-yet-refined vibe by committing to organic materials, sink-right-in seating, and wood accents, while leaving behind excessive decor like throw pillows. “I think this gives the home a comfortable, durable, and lived-in feel,” she muses.

Shelby Girard Restoration Hardware sofa

Designing the Details

Shelby also made sure to blend old with new, traditional with contemporary. In the living area, a cozy, oatmeal-hued Restoration Hardware sofa is paired with a Lemieux et Cie for Anthropologie coffee table and a woven Dash & Albert rug that features a large-format lattice. Meanwhile, the inviting kitchen mixes softly-veined Imperial Danby stone with Semihandmade Shaker-style cabinet doors painted in a mushroom tone by Clare called No Filter.

cozy kitchen
kitchen renovation ideas

All of the rooms are peppered with treasured antiques, Shelby’s grandfather’s artwork, and Etsy gems. Vintage Turkish oushaks can be found in the office and main bedroom, a custom linen Roman shade hangs in the kitchen, and artisan hand soaps are available for use in the bathrooms.

Shelby Girard bedroom
Shelby Girard styling

Defining the Space

Though Shelby was quick to establish her aesthetic, determining the functionality of certain spots was a longer process. She had been used to such a small footprint, so she had to adjust to the extra square footage. “It’s just the two of us, so we had the very fortunate challenge of more room than we knew what to do with,” she admits. 

Shelby Girard custom sectional
Shelby Girard entry

Living in the house for a couple months gave Shelby and Chris the opportunity to evaluate and choose the appropriate purpose for each room, from a lounge-worthy room with a custom sectional tailor-made for binging Bravo TV shows (Shelby’s admitted guilty pleasure), to a dreamy sunroom ready for lingering cocktail afternoons while Chris strums the guitar (clearly a Renaissance couple), and even an ultra-chic mudroom to stash outerwear for chilly winter days ahead.

Shelby Girard renovation
warm neutral sunroom

But that doesn’t mean they’ve completed the project. “It’s never done,” she reveals. “I’ll always be changing something.” Occupational hazard of being an extremely talented designer. 

Whether starting from a blank canvas, or simply needing some expert styling advice, our designers are here for you. Consider this your invitation to design a home you love, beginning with our style quiz.

Shelby Girard Design Style

Words by Morgan Goldberg