A 1925 Former Fisherman’s Cottage Is Now Filled With Flirty, Fun Florals — House Call

Name: Fifi O’Neill with two cats, Minouche and Big Louie
Location: Sarasota, Florida — The home is located in a historical neighborhood of vintage fishermen cottages known as The Maine Colony as it was settled by fishermen from Maine.
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 20 years, owned

I live alone with my two cats, Minouche and Big Louie, in a 1925 vintage fisherman cottage. I bought it 20 years ago and have done many upgrades since then, including adding a 450-square-foot guest cottage in what was formerly a decrepit garage eaten by termites.

As a magazine editor, book author and interior stylist, I travel a lot for photo shoots. I love seeing and styling all types of homes, but when it comes to my own I need to be surrounded by calming colors and meaningful pieces. I have collected many items from various parts of the country and they are displayed in every room, not only for their significance but also for the lovely memories they hold.

What is your favorite room and why? I am particularly fond of the living room with its natural light and soft palette. I had always wanted a “glamorous” sofa but most of the ones I liked were incredibly expensive — until (one year ago) I walked into my local HomeGoods and found this one. It was the right style, color, fabric and most affordable.

The other feature I love is the faux fireplace. I found the mantel in a shop in Venice, Florida, then added pieces to the side and top to make it stand away from the wall in order to look like a real fireplace. I also added an old piece of copper to give it a natural-looking back. Finally, I included some architectural elements to provide interest. This room is peaceful and cheerful.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? If I could magically change something about my home it would be the addition of a second bathroom with a wall of closets and a free-standing tub. Closets are at a premium in small cottages and I have a lot of props to store. Plus, having an additional bathroom would also provide space for a laundry room area as presently, the washer and dryer are in the guest cottage. If I had this extra bathroom I could easily turn the guest cottage into an Airbnb as it is fully equipped and charming. For now it’s only used for family and friends when they visit.

Describe your home’s style in five words or less: Bohemian, global, eclectic, feminine.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Stay true to what you love, may it be colors, textures, style. Keep the feel fresh and current by regularly editing your rooms. Don’t be afraid of paint. It’s not a big commitment; it’s inexpensive and makes a big impact. For instance: try it on one wall to create a focal point.

Reconfigure spaces by moving furniture; it can be in one room only or from moving some pieces to another room (a chair, a small table, a mirror, a painting). Baby steps are best! Experiment and you will get not only a “new” room but a new perspective as well. Change is good!

Thanks, Fifi!

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