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Name: Carla Morrone and pup, Leo
Location: Thomas Square Streetcar District — Savannah, Georgia
Size: 1500 square feet
Type of Home: Duplex
Years lived in: 2 very busy, beautiful years, owned
Designer and home stager Carla Morrone purchased this Victorian-era duplex in Savannah, Georgia, two years ago, but it didn’t look like it does today. “It had been rented to students, and hadn’t been updated in decades — one of the toilets almost fell through the floor when we started renovation on the first floor!” Carla begins. “But it had some things I could not get out of my head — like the fireplaces (six throughout the combined apartments), especially the beautiful exposed brick fireplace in the (now) green room. I hadn’t seen anything like that before. The doorways were original, and some of the doorknobs, too. The high ceilings and windows that reach eight feet stun me to this day — there is nothing but light coming into the house, in every room. It had the bones, just needed some love to bring her back.”
Carla’s worked hard the past two years to add that love back in two the two apartments (she lives in one, and the other she rents out and manages herself on Airbnb), also adding a lot of color and personality on the way. It’s an always evolving project. “I still find things in the house to play with so I’m constantly changing it — late last year I decided to paint the black wood floors an icy blue,” she admits. “A few months later, probably to relieve stress, I decided to paint the kitchen — white at the time — black, only then to realize it needed to be pink. Now it’s a plastered, multi-toned, and textured pink wall. Pink seems to follow me in this house, and it’s all about experimenting and playing with colors and textures here, so that when I’m working outside of the house, whether on my other properties or with clients, I have something to reference my weird ideas.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: My style has been described to me as Modern European Chic, but that seems like a tall order. I do think my style is a combination of brave, moody, and eclectic.
Inspiration: I find inspiration in nature — usually walking Leo. There is so much green in Savannah, so it’s natural to bring that color into my home — and I certainly have! I also try to consider how a space feels to me before deciding how it should look. This can be hard, but drawing on inspirations to understand what the house, or a space, wants to be what I try to do the most. If I stray too far from that, I’m not happy with the outcome.
Favorite Element: When I walk out of my bedroom in the morning and look to the front windows, past the green room — that’s it. That view is what brings me joy. The green is a little dramatic, but the room beyond it is bright white, with colorful velvet furniture. When I work from home, I find myself sitting in a place where I can look up to that view.
Biggest Challenge: Budget is always a challenge! My kitchen gets lots of compliments, but I had to start the kitchen renovation before I was ready, and it was rushed. I made a lot of reactionary decisions about the design and functionality of the kitchen that I’m still not completely happy with. The layout was a definite challenge. We were able to knock out most of a wall, but had to keep part of it because of an electrical panel I couldn’t afford to move at the time of the renovation. I would do it differently today — but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to make it as stunning as possible with what I have.
Proudest DIY: The pink plastered wall was a roman clay dupe — and it brings me ACTUAL joy. I love the texture, I love the color, and I love that it cost about $30 in paint samples and a weekend to complete.
Biggest Indulgence: I have increased my furniture budget in the last two years. I love to have places to gather, and it’s one of the things I notice most in other peoples’ homes. And those pieces being colorful or show-stoppers has become more important to me, so I’ll definitely indulge there.
I try to offset other pricey things and ideas by doing my own installation or repurposing something, so then time becomes money, and so some of the things I consider wild indulgences are plastering a fireplace, applying roman clay, or stripping a door to its original state. And it is always worth the time spent in the end.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Some of the pieces I’ve had for nearly a decade are the mirrors throughout the house. When I lived in studio apartments, mirrors added depth and made spaces feel bigger. Now I use vintage mirrors as decor over fireplaces, leaning on walls, surrounded by art.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’ve learned that it is so important to go with your gut — if something makes you happy, dive in. If something in your home does anything but that, change it! And don’t discuss it with everyone in your life. Some of my best designs sounded absolutely nuts before starting them. Find some inspiration, make a decision, and shut off the noise. Show people what you want instead of talking about it.
What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? I find myself naturally gravitating toward color combinations I loved when I was a kid — purple and green, pink and red, green and pink. These colors make me happy, so decorating around them is easy and fun. Don’t worry so much about the “color of the year” or what’s trending at the moment and focus on colors and pieces that bring you joy or calm you. Whatever you need to come home to, that’s the feeling the colors in your house should evoke in you.
What’s your favorite wall paint color of all time: This was not an easy decision! Sherwin-Williams’ “Rachel Pink” has probably been the most fun color I’ve used, on both interior and exterior, but I have also fallen in love with Farrow and Ball’s “Railings” on walls, ceilings, trim, and fireplaces. It has just the right amount of blue in the most delicious moody black.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? There is nothing to be afraid of when decorating. Making your house a home takes time, and it’s super personal. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with your home. Remind yourself that everything is temporary, and what can’t be fixed or what just won’t work in your home, can always be thrown on Facebook Marketplace for someone else!