Every week, our House Calls feature takes you into homes with great style, big personality, and ineffable soul. Today we visit the Providence, Rhode Island, home of Courtney Webster and Brandon Aguiar. When this recently wed couple went looking for a new home, they wanted something out of the ordinary, and they found it in this loft conversion.
Before they got married, Courtney Webster (an interior designer, event stylist, and blogger) and Brandon Aguiar (a painter) lived in a building that was, frankly, uninspiring. Webster describes their previous home as a "cookie-cutter apartment."
"Our last apartment caused us to consider all types of interesting places," she says. "We looked at single-family homes and homes that had been converted to apartments; but when we saw this mill that had been remodeled into lofts, we knew we wanted to live here."
The appeal lay in the 15-foot-high ceilings, the large windows, the white-painted brick, and the original, industrial floors where you can still see the scuff, scrapes, and holes left by factory workers. "It also had separate areas for two creative people to work," says Webster. "That’s kind of rare in an open loft space."
As it stands, Aguiar’s art studio is set up in a room in back of the kitchen, while Webster, when she’s not commuting into Boston for her interior design job at 12 Chairs, works at at the dining room table.
But before they took their seats, Courtney planned everything out. "I always start with a floorplan," she says. "Before we moved in, I got a floorplan of the unit and plotted where our existing pieces would go. There weren’t many things we were keeping, so I had to fill in with a lot of stand-ins—items from Ikea and the Salvation Army that did the job until we purchased the pieces we wanted that would be more interesting and better suited for the space."
The dining room table is just one of the handcrafted touches Courtney has mixed with off-the-shelf items for a unique look. "My father made the table. He’s an engineer, not a carpenter, so he came to the task a bit unwillingly," she says. "But my uncle was fixing his roof at the time, and had some planks he was using in the scaffolding. My dad repurposed them for the tabletop. He tried to convince me to sand them or finish them, but I liked the look of the raw wood. I ordered hairpin legs off Etsy to finish it off."
A macrame table runner adds a bohemian touch. "I have a serious obsession with the texture of macrame and woven things," Webster says. "We have a lot of midcentury modern pieces, as it’s one of the styles we agree on. However, I also love bohemian style, and in this house I wanted to push them together—I wanted to mix things like macrame with walnut wood peg legs. This is the first time I’ve tried more than one style at home, and I’m still working on it, but this is the best it has ever felt to me."
She also took a design leap in the kitchen, where she painted the walls a blush pink. "When we first viewed the apartment, the kitchen was covered with a rust orange color," Webster says. "I asked if I could paint the room, and the landlords said yes. The logical choice would be white, but I wanted to do something different."
After considering, and rejecting, a number of colors, she landed on a soft pink hue. "It sounds weird, but it almost acts as a neutral," she says. "I’m not a huge fan of pink, but I always wanted a little pink kitchen, and this might be my only opportunity." She accented it with new, brass-tone hardware.
In the bedroom, the couple relied on Courtney’s dad for another woodworking feat: A bed made out of packing pallets.
"I saw a sofa made of pallets on Pinterest, and I asked Dad if he could use the same idea to make a bed," she says. "It’s built with packing pallets from his work, and he made sure to pick ones that were made with untreated wood. There are about five of them, and they are attached like a jigsaw puzzle. In the end, it was really heavy, but I love the raw, rustic look of it."
There’s more than one bed in the master bedroom. Oliver, their 17-pound cat, has a small teepee here. "We had been trying to get Oliver to sleep somewhere besides our bed for some time. He needs to curl up near our bed, or it won’t work," she says. "Every pet bed we looked at was so cheesy and so expensive, until I found this cat teepee on Etsy. And, although he doesn’t sleep in it as much as we would like, he does use it and it does look good in the space."
The result of this experimentation with styles and unexpected materials makes for a home that’s one of a kind. "When we went into this apartment, it was like a blank slate," Courtney says. "I looked at it as a chance to play."