Sunday, February 14, 2010

TransformationsHome Featured in the San Francisco Chronicle



Design duo helps when his and hers becomes ours

Sunday, February 14, 2010
It's a classic love story: Girl meets boy. Girl moves into boy's home. Girl and boy recognize that the decor reflects his personality and taste, not hers, but don't know where to begin with a makeover.
For Carla D'Agostino - the girl in this case - chance encounters with Sissy Latino at a dog park proved fortunate.
Latino and fellow stylist Robin Preussker are the duo behind Transformations Home Stylists in Mill Valley. The firm specializes in reinventing spaces - sometimes in as little as one day, mostly utilizing the client's existing pieces.
"We were their motivation to get on it," recalled Preussker. "Our impression was that Carla moved some stuff in but there was no real emotional or physical space for her."
D'Agostino and David Parkinson met on Yahoo Personals in October 2006. After corresponding via e-mail for a week, they arranged to meet at Blackie's Pasture in Tiburon. "It was a neutral, public site," he said. "We weren't obligating ourselves to dinner if it didn't work out."
The meeting went so well, their casual stroll turned into a dinner date after all, and they soon discovered a number of coincidences and connections in their lives.
After Parkinson moved out of his parents' house, they bought a home in the New Jersey neighborhood where D'Agostino grew up. He remembers her residence as the one that was always undergoing construction. And she knows the people who now live in his parents' old place.
Back in Martinsville, N.J., she was close friends with her next-door neighbors, one of whom is Parkinson's fraternity brother.
In Tiburon, they attended the same church; he went to the early service, while she went to the later one. Now they both go to the early service together.
About two years ago, she moved into his home of 25 years in the Tiburon neighborhood of Paradise Cay. He and his wife, who died in 2001, raised four children in the house.

'We needed to edit'

"I felt like we needed to edit," said D'Agostino, "but I was sensitive to the fact that David had lived here a long time. I wanted to be respectful of him and his feelings.
"It's a lovely house, but there was a bachelor who was in here for a while. There was no one around to say, 'Hey, this doesn't work.' "

BEFORE:

In the family room, they made one decorating decision before summoning Preussker and Latino: There was a television set placed on another television - "the poor man's picture-in-picture," Parkinson joked. Since there were no shades or drapes, a surfboard was propped against the window to eliminate the glare. The two TVs were replaced with one wall-mounted flat screen.
For everything else, the couple felt that a third party would provide a fresh perspective. "We were going to get a new sofa anyway," said D'Agostino, "but decided to call Sissy and Robin because it's a major purchase, and I didn't want to make a mistake."
Out went the 20-year-old teal leather love seats. Preussker and Latino suggested that the shape and scale of a sectional would be a better fit for the room. D'Agostino and Parkinson found an espresso-hued tufted leather one that they liked; Latino and Preussker gave it the thumbs up.
The family-room rug, which didn't look quite right with the old sofas, got a reprieve. A coffee table that had been relegated to a bedroom was returned to the family room to display D'Agostino's art.
An ottoman, which was tucked in the corner behind a rocking chair, was also relocated. Situated next to the sectional, it acts as a footrest or, with the addition of a tray, a serving area. The ikat and floral pillows were repurposed from the patio.
"We're not pushing the idea of buying everything new," Latino said. "We like to see what you have and make it work better."

Vertical element

Remarkably, aside from the sectional, the only item that D'Agostino and Parkinson purchased for the space was an upholstered side chair. Its earth-tone pattern complements the tile flooring.
A pair of oars that once hung above the sliding glass doors now grace a corner of the room. "We needed a vertical element there," said Preussker, "and they just happened to look great there."
The bookcase, a prominent feature, was formerly a hodgepodge of Parkinson's autographed footballs and baseballs, as well as football helmets, baseball caps and books. Latino and Preussker pared down the collection and mixed in some of D'Agostino's vases and other artistic treasures.

BEFORE:


AFTER:



The result is a contemporary and decluttered space that blends her style, which she described as "whimsical and arty," with his style, which he called "more traditional with a sporting flair."


"One of the things I'm pleased about is that we're going to be able to really live in this room," she said. "It's not just pretty. It functions for us."

D'Agostino and Parkinson also enlisted the stylists to convert D'Agostino's home office into a dressing room for her.
(She now shares an office with Parkinson. A floral designer with Waterlily Pond in San Francisco, she doesn't work much from home. Parkinson, a vice president with Experian, does.)

Raspberry and turquoise

Although the dressing room benefited from a handful of purchases - a rug, textiles, a lingerie chest and a Venetian mirror - most of the "shopping" for it occurred within the confines of the house.

BEFORE:


With the addition of solid and patterned textiles in vibrant shades of raspberry and turquoise, the plain twin bed has become a "fun and feminine" daybed, said Latino.
A distressed turquoise and cream cabinet, which was already in the room, serves as both storage and display for D'Agostino's objects and accessories. The perfume bottles and photos create a lovely vignette.
The office armoire was replaced with an armoire from the bedroom, which Parkinson outfitted with shelves. A chair that belonged to D'Agostino's grandmother was painted gold and topped with a fuchsia cushion.
For lighting, a chandelier was salvaged from the garage. "It's really funky," D'Agostino said of the fixture. "I love it, so I asked Sissy and Robin, 'Where will this fit?' I was so excited that they found a place for it."

AFTER:


Given their past careers as display stylists for Bloomingdale's, it's no surprise that Latino and Preussker have a keen eye for detail. In the dressing room, D'Agostino pointed out two things she would not have thought of on her own: placing the lingerie chest at a diagonal to add interest and a focal point, and hanging a vintage purse on a cabinet knob. "It was in my closet and no one could see it sparkling," she said of the latter. "Now it just looks really sweet."

'Interest and personality'

Preussker and Latino also incorporated a framed cover of "The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center," a book that D'Agostino co-authored, into the room as artwork. Every holiday season, her family finds and delivers the tree for the New York City landmark.
"It's fun to see all of the changes without having spent a fortune," D'Agostino said. "And it doesn't look like a Pottery Barn catalog because it's our stuff. It has character, interest and personality."
D'Agostino and Parkinson's story does indeed have a happy ending. In addition to the successful room makeovers, they have another reason to celebrate: In December, during an outing to Blackie's Pasture - the setting of their first date - they became engaged.

Reinventing your space

Sissy Latino and Robin Preussker of Transformations Home Stylists (transformationshomestylists.blogspot.com) are experts at "use what you have" decorating. They offer hourly and day rates that are tailored to the client's needs. For one Sausalito project, they met with the homeowner in the morning, and by dinnertime the makeover was complete. Here are some of their tips for reinventing your space:
Get focused: Every room needs a focal point. Work with what you have - a fireplace, a view - or create your own with artwork or a major piece like a piano.
Room for conversation: Whenever possible, move the furniture away from the walls to bring energy into the room and to create conversation areas.
Be seasonal: Change your home with the seasons. Freshen the color palette with accessories such as pillows and throws, and bring in elements from nature, including branches and fruit.
Mix it up: Integrate the old with the new, the accumulated with the newly acquired, and the distressed with the polished. It's all about the mix.
Keep it fresh: Move furniture and objects from room to room to keep a fresh perspective. Shake it up and have fun!

Her style

Carla D'Agostino has a whimsical, arty style. She wanted to introduce more color into the rooms and have a place to display her art and pottery.

His style

David Parkinson's tastes are more traditional with a sporting flair. He likes a neutral color palette and loves to surround himself with memorabilia.
E-mail comments to home@sfchronicle.com.

4 comments:

Valerie Wills Interiors said...

Congratulations on The Chronicle article.... how lovely. Great before and afters too

Trouvais said...

Hi Robin. Congratulations! (And thanks for sending me the link...going paperless these days!) Flea Market was great, mostly because I went with my 18 yr old. I already "love the home I'm with" so I don't really "need" anything, but it's fun to get new ideas and enjoy the camaraderie. Trish

DoubleL said...

The Chronicle article illustrated the success of your design concept; it should encourage more people to consider refreshing their tired homes with your help and innovative style. Would you consider a consultation on the East Coast?

Ann LoLordo, a friend in Maryland

brett said...

“Wow” you are a genius for sure what great ways to get ranked high and obtain good traffic flow from your article. Thank you for sharing your information it was very good reading for sure. I am looking forward to any more of your articles you produce in the near future.
studied home