March 3, 2014

“This house is like pulling together everything we’ve accomplished lifelong,” says designer Marg Hyland, who has owned her own design firm alongside her husband for almost 35 years. Having enjoyed renovations on their Tudor house, the couple took advantage of having an empty nest and moved into a fixer-upper in downtown Orlando. “A lot of the challenge was the search to find the perfect house,” said Hyland. “This is just coming home sweet home.”

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From the outset, the home failed to offer much visual charm. “Everything was just awful white,” explained Hyland. “It had some unique character to it, but everything was just unfinished.” Wood trim and clapboard finish, typical to a Key West house, covered the home. Still the house’s layout, complete with a great room for the kitchen, was ideal for the couple. “It reminded me of a model house that you would buy in a craft store,” she said. “The house was cool on the outside, but when you flipped it around it was just a blank wall.”

With a favorite color in mind, Hyland already knew what to do with that blank palette. “I’m crazy about Tiffany blue,” she explained. “I was keen to experiment with all these shades of blue.”

Hyland set to work on the actual design of the kitchen once she found its focal piece: an antique glass dining room table. Discovered at an auction, the 1921-dated table had worn, intricate turquoise legs in an octagonal shape beneath blue-tinted glass. “I designed the whole room around this piece,” Hyland explained.

By using a dry brush technique, Hyland echoed the table’s light antique look on the previously black island. The island also accents the kitchen’s cypress wood cabinetry and granite countertops and backsplash. “Eventually I want to take the backsplash out and put in glass tile to make it lighter,” explained Hyland.

The dining room chandelier was another original piece she altered to lighten the kitchen. “The chandelier was kind of funny,” she said, referring to the originally black piece. “It was out of character with the house.” Since the unique shape of the fixture suited the kitchen, she spray painted it white “because we hated it anyhow,” she added. Then she recalled a lifelong hobby she had of collecting glass crystals – a result of her childhood love for Pollyanna. “She would hold them up to the light and have these wonderful prisms that she would do,” described Hyland. By attaching some of her crystals to simple craft beads, she created an elegant chandelier.

This elegant style continues in the master bath, which centers on a freestanding, cast-iron tub. “It’s my own ritual to get in the bath at least once a week,” she said. Both the tub and the single antique glass sink came with the room. As the couple found the second sink underneath the garage, they assume it was the original owners’ intent to have one focal piece. “It’s like a girl sink,” commented Hyland. The piece looks out on a lake through antique glass windows, which were installed for privacy. Around to the windows, the same wash of Tiffany blue swathes the once demure bath in color.

“As for the house itself, I understood why it was on the market for so long,” she said. “We sort of fall in love with houses like that, which could be finished in such a cool way.”

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