“We designed this house for the way we want to live,” says Cheryl Guibone of the 4,500-square-foot home in Southport that she shares with her husband, Mat Goldsmith, and three young children. “It’s definitely not one of the biggest houses on the street—it’s probably one of the smallest ones—but it’s who we are.”
The couple bought the house four years ago and immediately began a one-year renovation, which kept the original footprint of the 1901 home—something rarely seen on the otherwise rapidly expanding block. They first restored the exterior to its turn-of-the century charm with a new roofline and windows, and then added square footage to the kitchen and baths at the rear of the home, so as to not obstruct the history of the façade. “We bought the house for the openness, but also because we love the village and being on the water,” says Guibone. “We’ve always lived in old houses. We love to renovate.”
Situated across the street from the beach, Guibone, who is an interior designer, describes the decor of the historic home as surprisingly contemporary. “The design has a modern flare, but it’s really about looking clean, simple and fresh.”
To create this open, airy feeling, Guibone used a palette of calm colors with white trim for the walls and let accessories take credit for pops of color and texture. She also stained the home’s hardwood floors in uniform dark ebony to give visual flow. “There’s really no space that’s unused,” she says. “We’ve used every inch we have. The things we have are nice but not overdone—and there’s no clutter.”
On the main floor, the entrance leads into a large living room, which doubles as a den for TV-watching. In the dining room, the nine-foot table moonlights as a desk where the kids spread out their homework, Cheryl kept the kitchen’s breakfast nook stress-free by upholstering the seating in an outdoor fabric from SeaCloth in Greenwich. “I can take a scrub brush to it and get it totally clean of the kids’ messes,” she laughs; it’s a job she concedes to doing often. She also installed commercial-grade rugs in high-traffic areas. “My kids walk around with food; we’re very casual here. Plus when people come over I want them to relax and feel comfortable — take their coffee or wine from one room to another.” She continues, “I designed the house with my young family in mind. It needed to be beautiful but also kid-friendly… The kids have full run of the house.”
Indeed the house has an uncomplicated, relaxed feeling that also translates as elegant. Her favorite sources in Fairfield County include New York Carpet, Artistic Upholstery and Dovecote, where she has gathered items ranging in diversity from the contemporary glass-top tables in her living and sitting rooms to the antique chandelier and bamboo mirror in the dining room to funky vintage fabric in the guest room. What gives the look her signature, however, is not the mixture of styles and items but where she sources them. In addition to high-end Connecticut boutiques—which also include Cachet in Fairfield and Braswell Galleries in Stamford—Guibone also shops at chain stores such as Restoration Hardware and Williams-Sonoma Home, as well as secondhand stores and estate sales.
“There are things in the house that are custom-made but also things from thrift stores, tag sales and home stores,” she admits. In the sitting room, sofas from Mitchell Gold, cane chairs from Cachet and vintage French fabric pillows from Dovecote are illuminated by a tag-sale lamp that was given new life through a shade from The Accessory Store in Stamford.
In the living room a pair of chrome chairs bought used and then reupholstered in ultra-suede from ABC Carpet & Home face-off with a similar set found at Debbie’s Antiques and upholstered in chocolate velvet. The Restoration Hardware Bleecker lamp provides ambient lighting and a zebra rug from New York Carpet along with matching pillows in Brunschwig & Fils fabrics, lends a sense of sophistication. A beach scene by Westport painter Kelly Good McGee and assorted coral from Dovecote and Bungalow lend a seaside vibe. And in the kitchen a custom made-table is surrounded by chairs bought at Goodwill and then refinished with an all-weather fabric.
Even the formal dining room adopts a relaxed attitude. The table,
a wedding gift from Cheryl’s husband, sits on commercial grade carpet and is surrounded by soft, comfortable Mitchell Gold chairs. In fact, the only formality in the room comes by way of an antique gilded bamboo mirror and chandelier, which sit outside of the traffic pattern. “We use the dining room a lot. The kids do homework there, and it’s used for family gatherings,” Cheryl points out.
This democracy of use is even exercised in the large, second-story master bedroom. “The bedroom sitting area has become a family hub,” Guibone says. “The kids come in; they spread books and toys on the floor and just hang around. It’s a really comfortable room.”
Despite its playroom alter ego, the bedroom maintains a calm ambience. The walls are painted a pale blue, the floors are covered in sea grass and the massive bed is softened with a white slipcover and bedding. The bright yellow pillows are from Marshalls, the zebra-covered chairs are from Goodwill and a bold blue painting over the bed, created by a family friend, give the room its pop. “It feels glamorous yet it’s really calm and comfortable,” Cheryl says. It’s a sentiment she feels can be spoken of any room of her house. “There are great finds from Goodwill that I really cherish, and there are also ridiculously expensive things that I spent way too much money on, but there are no closed doors,” she comments. “There’s nothing here that can’t be broken: Things break every day.” And that’s okay by her. “When you’re a decorator, the house is never done. I’m always looking, shopping, getting ideas.”
ABC Carpet & Home
New York City
Goodwill Industries Of Western Connecticut
New York Carpet