Timeless Beauty: Antiques and heirlooms tell visual story

Antiques and heirlooms tell visual story in designer Sallie Elliott’s home

Each item in Sallie Elliott’s carefully curated home tells a story. The twin 19th-century ceramic vases adorning the fireplace mantel belonged to her grandmother. In the kitchen, a 1900s-era wrought-iron candlestick chandelier sheds light over a large island. The wooden pantry door dates back to the 1840s.

“I like things that I can still fall in love with, things that don’t age,” Elliott said. Eras and origins are blended and layered to create a classic, timeless look in this custom-built, six-bedroom home in the Legacy neighborhood.

Elliott, an interior designer and realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, relished the opportunity to design a home from the ground up when her family moved to Omaha from Bloomington, Ind. The neighborhood’s location near Zorinsky Lake attracted Elliott. Adjacent to a wooded area, her backyard is no stranger to deer, owls and other wildlife.

A trip to Italy inspired much of the look and feel of the home. The travertine tiles throughout the main floor lend a European flavor and set the neutral color palate.  Other custom touches include four fireplaces (“I’m a fireplace fanatic,” Elliott confesses), hearth area with hidden pocket office, and outside, a natural rock hot tub with waterfall feature.

The European-inspired backdrop sets the stage for the antiques and heirlooms Elliott loves to acquire. In the kitchen and hearth areas are several examples of her finds, including a large French drying rack — functional but eye-catching, Elliott notes. An antique wooden mixing bowl becomes an intriguing centerpiece when filled with dried hydrangea blooms from Elliott’s garden. Elliott likes “things that have that patina,” especially objects with unusual structure and scale. In this home, larger pieces make more powerful statements than myriad knick-knacks.

The dining room showcases Elliott’s talent for making old things interesting. While the space could easily be converted to an office, Elliott, who loves to entertain, enjoys creating formal dining room tablescapes for family and friends. In February, the table was decked with mix-matched family silver and china, with clementine oranges adding a pop of color. She encourages clients to experiment with layering and blending to create something new. “I don’t want any space to feel like it came out of a showroom as a matching set,” she said.

Another highlight of the home is the master bathroom. The French-inspired bathroom was featured on HGTV’s “Rate My Space” and offers hints of the Palace of Versailles with its opposing antique Venetian mirrors. Instead of a typical linen closet, Elliott designed wine rack-style shelving for towels around the luxurious tub.

How to create a story in your home

1.Don’t be afraid to experiment with color, but keep the color on things you can change easily, like walls or décor (not appliances, for example).

2.Incorporate your heirlooms in a unique and interesting way. Don’t be afraid to layer and experiment.

3.Everything doesn’t need to be out at once. Rotate.

4.If budget or time is a constraint, find a replica of the item you’re lusting after at a store like HomeGoods. Switch it out for the real deal at a later date.

5.Invest in quality heavy-use pieces, such as sofas, barstools or dining table. Side tables can be less expensive.

6.Play with scale. Singular big pieces can make a bigger statement than knick-knacks.

7.Group similar objects together to make a larger statement (a group of ornate candlesticks, for example).

8.Rules can be broken, but generally, it’s most pleasing to the eye to decorate in odd numbers.

9.Mix and match from time periods and styles to avoid a boring, overly-matching showroom look.

10.Gather inspiration from sites like Houzz.com. Browse pro Sallie Elliot’s picks on her Houzz profile; search for Inspired Interiors.

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