Four years ago, when interior designer Maureen Rivard came upon this 1850s cottage in Ridgefield, CT, she knew it was a gem.
"I fell in love with its angled ceilings, original heart-of-pine floors and wavy glass windows," she recalls — despite its small, dated rooms and dark interior.
An update was in order, but with one caveat: "I wanted it to preserve the integrity of the home, but it had to work for the way we live now," says Rivard, who shares the house with her two sons and a pug named Lulu.
Guests are welcomed with an entryway filled with stories: Rocks collected along a riverbank, a brass rubbing unearthed on an epic flea market tour, a door painted an unexpected hue (hello, eggplant!).
"Found objects have their own history and make a home feel warmer," explains Rivard, who settled into the comfortable home after five months of mi and matching.
"Getting it right was tricky — I painted the front door three times!" she admits. "But now everything lives happily together."
Rivard kept the original flooring and beadboard ceiling, but opened up the floor plan to conjoin the kitchen and the family room, creating one large space for entertaining.
Two columns (garage-sale finds from years ago) stand at the corners of the kitchen's diamond-patterned marble floor, anchoring the room. Adding to the airy look are walls painted in shades of white as well as simple sofas. "Clean-lined furniture and calm colors show off a house's bones," she says.
More of her tricks include sawing off a dining table's legs, and voilà — instant coffee table. "Its scale is ideal for a big room," she says.