One might think a home built in the 1890s on Providence’s East Side and a home built in the 1940s in Barrington might not have much in common, but with an open mind, a creative eye and an adventurous sense of design, the two can find common ground. So when Sarah and John Mycroft were making the transition from city to suburbs, it turned out they didn’t have to abandon all the things they loved, despite transitioning from homes built nearly half a century apart.
“We took just about everything that wasn’t nailed down,” says Sarah with a laugh. And she means it. Oftentimes, custom creations like drapes, cornices and upholstered pieces are left behind, but Sarah, who holds two master’s degrees in historic preservation, saw an opportunity to reinvent some of her favorite pieces in their new abode.
“I’m all about recycling if you can reuse something,” Sarah says. She’s says that sometimes people think a new home requires all new furnishings, but that’s not only expensive, it’s too simplistic. “Sometimes it’s just about getting something reupholstered, giving something a new life.”
When Sarah and John were looking for a new home to accommodate their growing family, there was something about the Barrington property that spoke to each of them. The two walked under a gargantuan magnolia tree there that Sarah says felt like “magic,” and when they opened the front door, they could see all the way to the opposite end of the home. The Mycrofts talked about their children, two at the time and one on the way, being able to “have free reign” with the open floor plan while they could also keep a watchful eye.
A parlor on the right side of the home offered an eye-catching fireplace and ample bookshelves which immediately spoke to Sarah, an avid book collector, so a warm place to showcase her assortment was another serendipitous sign the home was well suited for the family. However, there were some big changes the couple would need to make to the home their own. “All the bathrooms were super groovy, total ‘60s; there was a lot of pink and yellow tile, and there were only three bedrooms and we knew we’d increase that,” explains Sarah. The couple turned to Calyx Homes in Lincoln to make their plans reality. Though work was progressing, like any home renovation, the Mycrofts’ project had its ups and downs. “We were holding two mortgages for quite a while,” she says. “It was definitely a nail biter and I was super pregnant and had two little babies.”
The end project was worth the wait. Calyx took out the back wall of the house and existing kitchen to produce two additional bedrooms, a new expanded kitchen, office, mudroom and an additional bathroom. As each space came together, Sarah let her creative flag fly.
“She has no fear of making bold statements,” says Pernilla Frazier, who co-owns Kreatelier, a fabric and home décor shop on Providence’s East Side. “I met her four years ago. We connected as she’s an antiques appraiser... She has a passion for color, which I share.”
Though Sarah changed her zip code, she wasn’t about to change her sources. She returned to Pernilla and Kreatelier to give the Barrington home a colorful, creative air. The two started the process early on by salvaging and resizing all the window treatments. “That doesn’t happen a lot,” explains Pernilla. “She has a strong sense of design herself... we kind of meet in the middle.”
Pernilla, who declares unequivocally that Sarah has an “unbelievable” home, says the secret to her extraordinary design sense is Sarah’s ability to juxtapose old and new, classic and modern. “She has beautiful pieces but they’re meant to be lived in.” It’s no wonder they’re friends: the two believe in utilizing what you already have, flirting with irreverence and being ”fearless” and “a little crazy in the most delightful way.”
“Pernilla and I share a similar taste. She’s great at reinventing things – she has a super eye for fabrics,” Sarah says. “She’s just dreamy. We would sit down with fabric books and in three minutes, I’d choose a whole floor of fabrics.”
Sarah says designing this home felt different this time around. “I love my home; absolutely love. I was very pregnant when I was doing this and looking to create something special for my family. It was like looking with new eyes. Like with every tile I chose, it was like, ‘this going to last long time,’” she says, calling the house “our forever home.”
The experience inspired Sarah to open a new interior design firm in Barrington along with partner Karen Pringle, an architect. Her firm, Dwelling, specializes in project management for renovated and refurbished homes as well as new construction. The team can also help owners refresh a space. Taking a cue from her own philosophy, Sarah helps customers work with what they have already and in some cases, reinventing them; making them “new and lovely.” Her advice is to embrace your likes, not to fight what you’re intrinsically drawn to, and blend new or unexpected pieces – not necessarily expensive ones – with the things you treasure most, be it an expensive antique or sentimental yard sale find. “It’s your home. Make it comfortable. Make it happy. Make it joyful,” she advises. Imperfection is a way of life, she says, calling her own home a “hot mess” at times complete with children’s tents and the random choo-choo train strewn about.
“My advice would be to think about what you love. Use that as a basis, and then think about what you can do to add new flavor.”