Layered with Love
By Stacee Harger
Better Homes & Gardens Decorating
, Summer 1996

There’s a tale of adventure and discovery behind everything in this Floridian’s seaside cottage.

Finding the cottage was an adventure in itself. Beverly Gilmore spotted the unfinished “spec” house while visiting her sister’s vacation home in the Florida Panhandle. She attended an open house and fell in love. “When you get inside, you just faint away. It has wonderful architectural design,” says Beverly. A vacation getaway of her own, however, wasn’t practical, so she returned to northern Michigan, where she and her sister owned a folk art gallery.

On subsequent visits to the Sunshine State over the next two years, Beverly would pedal her bicycle past the cottage. “Each time I’d ride past, a different real estate agent’s sign would be in the yard,” she says, “and each time I would call, the price would be a bit lower.”

Then came a particularly harsh winter in Michigan, prompting Beverly to toy with the idea of moving to Florida permanently. After having the roof of her house shoveled—twice—she again checked the price of her dream house and happily found it had finally fallen low enough to make a bid.

The move to Florida was just another in a long line of new addresses for Beverly. And from every place she’s ever lived or visited, in this country or abroad, she has always taken something with her, whether it was a piece of pottery or a different way of looking at life. Regrets? “I’ve only regretted the things that I didn’t buy,” Beverly laughs. “You find something you like while you’re traveling, and you tell yourself that you’ll go back and get it, and then you don’t.”

Everything in Beverly’s house seems to carry a story. The chair that greets guests in the entry, for example, was acquired more than 40 years ago when Beverly traded a pair of ice skates for it. “It has moved with me, and it’s the kind of thing that just gets a new life when I get a new life,” she says. At the moment, the chair sports blue paint and cushions sewn from a vintage Beacon blanket. Other pieces in the entry include a whimsically painted old desk, twig frames, and a folk art painting.

A step into the living room with its cream-color upholstered pieces, however, shows another side of this adventurous homeowner. Here, damask, nailheads, candlewicking, and mahogany finishes create a more traditional feeling slightly reminiscent of British colonial style. But there is nothing stuffy or predictable about the living room. It, too, is peppered with artistic objects—both primitive and refined.

Beverly didn’t want anything heavy over the windows, so she dressed them with tab-top scrim curtains—a fabric and style she felt would not only soften the sun’s glare but wouldn’t “invade the senses.” The windows on the home’s southwestern side are equipped with wooden blinds as well as curtains to keep out the blistering Florida sun and to add privacy.

Beverly uses the porch, which runs the entire length of the house, as a year-round extension of the living space: One end is configured for lounging and conversation while the other is dedicated to dining. Among the pieces of folk art that decorate the porch is a tiered centerpiece on the dining table by folk artist Min Lindsey.

Beverly’s interest in folk art was instilled at an early age. Her father was a toymaker by hobby, who carved dolls out of wood for his daughters. “My sister Barbara and I thought of it as just what Daddy did,” Beverly says. Now that she’s grown, and her father’s pieces have become valuable collectors’ items, Beverly sees how his talent shaped her tastes.

Beverly and her sister became interested in Native American arts and crafts when they co-owned their gallery. “We learned about the culture and the background of Native American jewelry, baskets, and pottery—we’re still in awe of it all,” she says. Northern Woodlands and Great Lakes Native American baskets are sprinkled throughout her home.

From whimsically painted furniture to handcrafted picture frames and pottery, this seaside abode is filled with treasures. “Any place is a great place to put art,” she says. “Wherever you have room, it will take its place. If a piece doesn’t feel at home in one place after a few days, I move it.

“Have the confidence to display your background, to display your life, to display where you have been. As I’ve grown older, I find I like things around me that are comforting—like old books, old shoes, and old dogs.

(Page 64)
The focal point of the living room is a mid-18th-century Spanish cupboard made of pine that holds Beverly Gilmore’s collection of Mexican glassware. Juxtaposed with the traditional-style upholstery’s cream-color fabrics, heavily patterned rugs from around the world and other pieces of handmade artwork add color and texture.

(page 65)
Beverly’s eclecticism rings loud and clear in the entry. An old desk rejuvenated by a folk artist, a candleholder from Spain, and a folk art painting are among the elements that create an entryway vignette.

(page 67)
Beverly enjoys early morning breakfasts at the porch table, with its centerpiece crafted by Ohio artist Min Lindsey. The folding chairs—at the ready for extra seating—are old auditorium chairs painted for Beverly by Indiana artists Marilyn and Dan Tynan.

A ’40s-vintage glider sits at one end of the porch. “It’s impossible to read a book there,” says Beverly, “because it’s just too darn comfortable.” The fabric on the glider, as well as the tablecloth, are hand-screened fabrics by Florida artist Marti Schmidt.

(page 68)
The simplicity of the kitchen, with its glass-front cabinets, uncomplicated lines, and bold black-and-white backsplash, makes a nice backdrop for some of Beverly’s more whimsical folk art.

Held up by corbels salvaged from an antebellum house, the living room shelves display a mix of Beverly’s favorite pieces. Contemporary silver statues by Aldo Cipullo join Russell Chatham’s etchings and Taos, New Mexico, artisan Jorge Lovato’s carved miniature her of horses.

(page 69)
The guest room has a definite tropical feel created by duvet covers hand-screened by artist Marti Schmidt. Used as a bedside table, the old trunk was restored then dressed up with a faux-tortoise finish. Above each bed hangs a framed embroidery piece made by Beverly years ago.


Home | Resume | Clients & Projects | Writings | Contact

© 1996 Meredith Corporation
All rights reserved