Springtime Redesign

Creative décor inspiration from Scituate DIY design blogger Danielle Driscoll.

By Noelle Barbosa

When Scituate-based lifestyle blogger and furniture painter Danielle Driscoll purchased a 1927 Dutch colonial house three years ago, she knew she had discovered a treasure. The quaint abode she shares with her husband, two sons and dog Poppy can be described as coastal chic meets classic antique. Perched a short distance from the gleaming waters of Scituate Harbor, the home has an allure and character that captivated her in a heartbeat.

“I knew I wanted an old home, and I knew I wanted to be near the harbor,” says Driscoll, who admits she discovered her décor style when she moved into the historic dwelling. “Old homes have a soul,” she says.

In 2011, Driscoll launched the blog FindingSilverPennies.com, in an effort to chronicle her life on the South Shore. The title of her blog was inspired by a book that her mother gave her when she was a little girl, “Silver Pennies” by Blanche Jennings Thompson. The Finding Silver Pennies blog eventually grew into an artistic outlet where Driscoll shares design and do-it-yourself projects. She began painting antique furniture and featuring the finished pieces online. Private clients started commissioning her to restore pieces and, eventually, she began selling her work to the public.

“I try to bring out the old character in furniture and not make it look too perfect,” says Driscoll. “I don’t like furniture that’s too glossy. I like it matte. I like seeing that it [furniture] isn’t perfect.”

Driscoll draws inspiration from the gray, blue and white hues of the ocean. But because dark woods run throughout her home (and she insists on keeping its vintage charm), she avoids going overboard with coastal colors and seaside accents, instead favoring traditional details highlighted by hints of modern design.  “I’ve mixed antiques with costal elements to give our home a nautical English look,” says Driscoll, who lived in England while pursuing a master’s degree in film and television production at the University of Bristol. She also met her husband, Luke, while abroad.

Driscoll’s passion for painting furniture began when she was young. Growing up, she watched her parents refurbish their family home and also a family-run restaurant that was housed in an antique colonial mansion. “I always went antiquing with my mom,” says Driscoll. “I would restore the pieces I bought at yard sales and thrift stores.”

Driscoll’s charming foyer features cream-colored walls and dark wood trim.  In the airy and inviting living room, a faux galvanized table stands against a leather chesterfield sofa. The table, built by Driscoll’s husband, mimics the rustic-chic items found in high-end catalogues. A glass hurricane vase brimming with oyster shells collected from nearby Humarock Beach gives a personal touch, and twin wicker baskets situated on the bottom shelf add a contemporary flair. Driscoll stained the table base with gel stain by General Finishes. “For the top,” she says, “I created a faux finish using Fusion mineral paint in a metallic finish.”

One of Driscoll’s favorite pieces is a double dresser she found on the side of the road with a sign that read, “Free or better offer.” Today, the vintage wardrobe that she named Isla graces her master bedroom. She painted the piece using Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Ironstone and because she didn’t add bonding agent, it chipped and flaked. “The top was stripped and stained with Jacobean by Minwax and sealed with hemp oil,” says Driscoll, who is now friends with the dresser’s previous owner.

Last summer, Driscoll was one of three design and DIY bloggers in the country selected by The Home Depot to transform a bare outdoor shed into a cozy oasis known as a “she shed,” an above-ground concept similar to a man cave, where women can relax and retreat.

Choosing to take the coastal route, Driscoll selected a shed with gray siding for its dreamy, weathered look. To stay consistent with her home’s exterior, she opted for a gambrel-style roof and painted the shed’s doors and shutters the same powder blue shade used on her own front door and shutters.

By adding a crushed stone patio, lush greenery and nautical accessories to the outdoor space surrounding the shed, Driscoll was able to emulate the quintessential New England summer homes found on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. She even affixed a trellis of pale pink roses to the side of the shed and adorned the roof with a classic whale weathervane. Inside, white shiplap walls and a gleaming beadboard ceiling make a perfect setting for an array of ivory shells, leafy plants and nautical-inspired art. “This is my coastal oasis; a place to rest, think, write and dream,” writes Driscoll in her blog.

In addition to writing about design and DIY projects, Driscoll curates two popular series in her blog: Creativity Over Coffee (where she profiles captivating individuals working in the creative field) and Inspiring Spaces (where she features unique places).

This year, Driscoll will launch her first e-book, titled On the Tip of my Paint Brush: Painted Furniture Techniques. The book was written to give readers and clients a comprehensive guide to frequently asked questions, like how to prep furniture and what paints she recommends. Her paints of choice include milk paint (used to achieve the popular chipped finish), Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (a formula yielding a matte look) and Fusion mineral paint. “I have a lot of chalk-paint pieces in my home,” says Driscoll. “Distressed finishes are so forgiving with pets and kids.”

Driscoll’s one-of-a-kind furnishings can be purchased at Kjeld Mahoney’s studio, in Scituate, Veronica Lane, in Hanover, and the open studio events hosted at her home. This spring’s open studio will feature an array of furniture including a heavily distressed farmhouse cabinet named Lila.

Spring Decorating Trends

With spring in full swing, many are looking to freshen up their homes with bright colors and beautiful accent pieces. We asked Danielle Driscoll to share some seasonal trends in home décor and design.

Freshly cut flowers – Whether from your yard or the grocery store, flowers add warmth and softness to any room.

Painted Furniture – Spring is the perfect time to rehab an old piece and adding a lick of paint can give tired furniture a whole new lease on life.

Natural Textures – I love the allure of sea grass, galvanized metals, hide and faux fur (even in spring).
Gold – This metallic color makes my heart happy.

Blue and white – I love this combination whether it’s on old English china, napkins, or in ticking stripes.  

Watercolor – I love using watercolor printables and pillows to update a home’s décor.

Color – Pops of pink and yellow and lots of green are always in style.

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