Interior designer Maggie Griffin loves things with history. “I am that person in the family who always raises my hand when something is up for grabs,” she says. “I’m lucky enough to have some great inherited pieces: the antique secretary in my bedroom, a settee in my keeping room, the bamboo bench in the nursery and many of my paintings.”
Not surprisingly, she was drawn to the historic charm of an older house. The 1940s Gainesville, Georgia cottage where she and her family live fits Maggie just right, inside and out. Smaller rooms and quirky ceilings are all part of the appeal, although don’t think Maggie is only about the past. “My style is very much old-meets-new,” she says. “I love mixing modern pieces like lucite and parsons tables with things like the antique china I found in college and old paintings I discover at antique shops.”
We had a chat with Maggie about her home, the design process, her interesting background and more!
Have you always lived in Gainesville? How did you find this cute house?
My husband David took a job in Gainesville when he graduated from the University of Georgia about 12 years ago, and I followed suit when we married in 2009. I fell in love with this house when I walked in, with its original features from the ’40s, the charming rooms and the incredible outdoor living room right off the kitchen. We changed very little, only adding cosmetic touches like paint, countertops and a few new faucets. The previous homeowner and I are great friends (she even enlisted my help in designing her new home, completed in 2016) and she has fabulous taste.
The house epitomizes cottage style. What do you think goes into a cottage look, both on the outside and inside?
For me, the cottage feeling begins with curb appeal, such as painted brick, a cute addition off to one side, the gable roof over a front door, or single-pane windows. I love those little details. And on the interior, I really liked the small, charming rooms, the original floors and the slanted ceilings on our second floor.
Your house is filled with older treasures. Any tips on shopping antiques stores?
My advice for hunting fun pieces at antiques stores and estate sales is to figure out what you’d like to collect and look for those things to form a collection. If you shop consistently, you’ll have a great collection in no time. I always look for little pieces of my silver pattern, blue and white china, linen napkins and, of course, little paintings. I also like bamboo, blanc de chine and oyster plates too. My favorite antique haunts are Scott Antique Market, Smith’s Antiques Mall and Antiques on Holiday in Destin, the Warner Robins Antique Mall (near where I am from), the Madison Antique Mall and the Queen of Hearts trio.
Did you make any changes to the outside of your house?
The only changes we’ve made are painting the shutters, and they are “Herbal Escape” by Benjamin Moore. I love the front yard all the time, but especially in the spring when everything is so green and blooming. I have about 10 bright pink peony bushes that become laden with blooms in the early summer — they make me so happy!
How did you want your keeping room to function and look?
Our keeping room area, with the kitchen and breakfast table nearby, is truly the heart of our home. I was so excited to have this one room divided into three spaces so we could be here as a family. The breakfast table and server piece are both Scott’s purchases, as are the swivel chairs. The woven dining chairs are Serena & Lily, and the settee belonged to my maternal grandmother. When I recovered it, we removed a few fabrics from its history, including a madras plaid from the ’70s and a soft, faded green chenille. It was a bit of a time capsule! The acrylic coffee table is an Amazon.com special. It’s been perfect for my 3-year-old to play on, as it wipes clean in a jiff!
What did you do to freshen up the kitchen?
The kitchen had been remodeled already, but we made a few changes. I painted the cabinets and island, and put in a wooden countertop for its warmth. We swapped the perimeter counters to granite, as well. I love the mix of finishes here, and of course the light from the large window over the sink is the best.
Tell us about your outdoor areas and how you use them/decorated them.
From April to October, we do not eat indoors at all! Every meal is spent on our back porch. Our [son] Henry sort of started that for us, and if I didn’t object, I think he’d still be out there when it’s 30 degrees. When furnishing the porch, we knew we wanted a comfy sectional, somewhere for us to watch football games while the kids played in the backyard. The farm table was a purchase from Scott’s, and the metal chairs are so easy to keep clean. We love to have people over, whether it’s an adults-only dinner party or a neighborhood play date. This past Halloween, we hosted over 150 for pizza and snacks before trick-or-treating.
How did your master bedroom come together?
I am sure it’s obvious, but nothing makes me happier than blue and white. Our bedroom really began with the fabric on my bed skirt — a remnant bolt of “La Grenade” by Bailey & Griffin that I found while traveling. A friend’s mother was selling the nightstands, so I snatched those up too, painting them “Half Moon Crest” by Benjamin Moore. The mirrors over the nightstands are from a secondhand shop, and the bench in the window is a Scott’s find, with a cushion covered in a leopard print from Lewis & Sheron. I had my upholsterer make me the headboard after coming across one that Bunny Williams had done — he wasn’t too happy about the angles, but I love the way it came out. My bedding is a mix of Pine Cone Hill and Serena & Lily, with a custom bolster in a fabric from Lewis & Sheron.
What is the story of the sitting room with the navy sofa?
At the top of our stairs is the cutest little space! The walls are made of original pine paneling, and the flooring is too. It seemed the perfect spot for a charming den for our guests. The camelback sofa was my paternal grandmother’s, and I recovered it in navy velvet. The round ottoman was a hand-me-down from my mother, and the bobbin chairs came from Pier 1, of all places. I had them recovered in a fabric I found at Scott’s. I used an IKEA jute rug with an antique store find over it. And I do love a gallery wall! The artwork here is a mix of things I have found, artwork done by me and a few pieces from a lot of artist friends.
What is your background?
Growing up in my small hometown of Hawkinsville, Georgia, I was lucky enough to have two of the chicest grandmothers and my amazing mother as role models. All three of them made every occasion special, and I learned from them how to set a table, grab flowers from the yard and cook a Sunday lunch. They took me everywhere and were always tweaking their interiors. As a student at the University of Georgia, it was a natural fit for me to apply for the Furnishings and Interiors program, and I had a ball! As a student, as a graduate and as a married woman, I worked at Heery’s Too!, a lovely gift shop that carries high-end home furnishings. Through my experience there, I gained my first clients. If we had a shopper who needed help “fluffing” their bookshelves, or hanging plates, or a fresh pair of prints, I would take some things for them to try and come back to the store empty-handed. And as things go, these small projects morphed into larger ones.
Thanks to photographer Alexandra Haynes for the beautiful photos.
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