‘Back to Life’
South Highlands cottage breathes fresh air with second owners
A charismatic cottage nestled on a hill in historic South Highlands has rekindled its charm thanks to frugal finds and the impeccable taste of the owners.
Built in 1947, the three bedroom, two bathroom home on Baltimore Avenue has been updated throughout by owners Stephen and Sarah Baker and is now on the market for sale through RCM Realty. Only the second family to own the home, the Bakers have honored the memory of the original owner and look of the home, while breathing new life into it.
Although the Bakers never met the previous owner, they have come to know her as “Ms. Nell” through personal items that were left in the home, as well as through their neighbors.
“We just really tried to bring the house back to life because she had lived in it and had taken such good care of it,” Sarah said. “We are trying to maintain it, but I wanted to breathe some fresh air into it.”
The Bakers removed the wallpaper in the home and painted the walls with neutral colors to brighten everything.
The living room is painted with Behr’s Water Chestnut because it matched the furnishings, while many of the other rooms are painted with Filtered Shade.
The Bakers love of unique pieces and antiques is on display throughout their home. The majority of the home’s furnishings and art are jewels purchased at estate sales, auctions and local antique stores such as Kings Antique Mall and Caboose Antiques.
“I’m big on estate sales, big on reupholstering,” Sarah said. “We want a nice, clean look, but we don’t always have the money for it. So we try to find ways to make that happen through estate sales or auctions or things like that.”
The living room fireplace was reimagined from a space that formerly had a gas heater and a plain face. Molding was added to the sides and the hearth was tiled. The interior was painted black and logs from the home of Sarah’s parents were placed inside.
Externally mounted storm windows have preserved the home’s original interior windows. “They don’t open, but they at least look pretty,” she said.
The desk in the living room was where Sarah did her homework as a child. The hutch above it is filled with vintage books.
“When we moved in, the bookcases were full of books. We have hundreds of books from Ms. Nell,” she said. “It sparked our interest in collecting vintage books. … And that’s been really fun to do.”
The dining room features an antique dining table that was the Bakers’ first purchase as a married couple. The table has two leaves and can expand to accommodate several guests. The contemporary chandelier above the table was a hand-me-down from a family Sarah knew in Dallas.
“We love contemporary modern design, but it’s hard when you live in an old home because you want to maintain that character of the home,” she said. “We still try to incorporate some things that are modern or contemporary, because if not, our style isn’t in the house.”
The homeowners do not like clutter, so deciding what to display on the builtins in the dining room was not an easy decision. The pieces of milk glass on the white shelves of the dining room builtins are from the Bakers’ wedding. The homeowners decided grouping the milk glass on the shelves with the gray walls in the background would make them pop.
New modern lamps purchased at Marshall’s, that have an old-look, illuminate the vintage sideboard. Vintage accessories and a new mirror complete the grouping. “We really tried to find things that were unique and different,” she said.
The dining room leads into the heart of the home – the kitchen. The homeowners changed everything in the kitchen except the flooring, which is a faux brick laminate. The cabinets were repainted. The painting in the hall is by British artist Anthony (Tony) Robert Klitz. His paintings frequently featured London street and formal military scenes with uniformed guardsmen on duty. The painting was purchased by the Bakers at an estate sale in Oklahoma. “It’s one of those pieces that looks so simple, but the closer you look, it’s really complicated.”
The master bedroom, which was an addition to the home in the 1960s, elicits “oohs” and “ahhs” from gazers on. Blue toile wallpaper and matching curtains put in place by Ms. Nell create a relaxing atmosphere in this sleeping space. The Bakers decided to embrace the toile.
“I decorated with it and not against. So I chose a blue and white palette,” Baker said. “I had my vintage dressers that went with it.”
The bed’s headboard is from World Market.
The chairs were acquired from an estate sale and reupholstered. A bench Sarah got in high school sits in front of a window. The chairs and the bench were reupholstered at Ed’s Upholstery.
The master bath was also completely remodeled. The rectangular floor tiles came from Southeastern Salvage on Mansfield Road. The sink and lights are from IKEA. The art on the walls is from Sasha Malchi Home in Tulsa.