Suzanne and Steven have been married for nearly 19 years. They have 3 kids – aged 16, 12 and 11. They are born & raised New Englanders — he, Massachusetts; her, Connecticut. They met at flight school!! They have lived in many places from Maine to L.A. Once highly active in the local bicycling community, they now have retired to more casual rides. Suzanne went back to work 2 years ago and teaches Kindergarten at Highland Presbyterian Weekday School. Steven works IT for a company out of Seattle, traveling back and forth.
1. Suzanne, we know that you have or have had multiple Rolodexes (or is it Roledices?). What is that draws you to them? And, we know that you do have an odd/special story about the one you got at Greenhaus? Can you tell us that story?
Rolodexes sounds about right, but I feel like Rolodie could work too! But yes, I am definitely drawn to old school office supplies. This attraction probably dates back to when my sister & I would visit my dads office. He worked in NYC and trips into the city were always fun, but the highlight was often getting to go into the office supply room to pick out a snazzy pad of notepaper, some pens, pencils and envelopes. I still love office supply stores and have got a thing for freshly sharpened pencils. Don’t even get me started on my search for an old-school typewriter.
So, when a friend took me to Greenhaus a while back, one of the first things I noticed;after swooning over the air plants, wall of wine & shelves of beer — was the groovy desk in the corner with an old school office vibe, and among other things on the desk was a big, groovy Rolodex with a flip top cover. It immediately reminded me of an address book that my grandmother kept next to her phone on the kitchen counter. Hers had a lid and along the side were the letters of the alphabet with a slidy pointer thingy. When you moved the lever down & pointed it to the letter you wanted, the lid would flip up & voila - you were at the page you needed. So as I was flipping through the Rolodex to make sure there were blank cards and that all the letters were there, the woman in the shop said “There’s just one entry in there”. And sure enough, I got around to it: Rita 937-0658. Rita was my grandmothers name. Needless to say, that Rolodex was mine.
2. How has your style grown or evolved along with the growth of your family? Is the decor in the house selected democratically? How much interest do your children show in the home?
Now that the kids are bigger, we feel like we can make some upgrades and not have to worry about anyone coloring on the couch. (The daughter that once did most of the couch & floor coloring now applies her talents to canvas & we proudly display them on our mantle and on the walls!)
Generally speaking though, as far as house is decorated & arranged; Steven is really good with the big picture, and I’m good with the details. While he leans more toward the modern and I lean towards the classic, we both totally share the same vision for the overall look and vibe of our home. Having a home that is warm and welcoming and truly lived in and loved is really important to us.
3. With both parents working full time, and three kids, what about your house works for you and how have you adapted it to work best for your family?
This is an old house with absolutely zero storage space - both inside and out. Through lots of trial and error and rearranging, we’ve figured out how to make things work. We’re big fans of dressers, armoires, baskets & open shelving to hold all our stuff!
Our front hall is set up to make getting out the door on time for school and work as efficient as possible. Everything has a spot & it’s all to (theoretically & ideally!) ensure that we’re all not running around looking for something.
4. Youve moved many times and finally settled in Louisville. What if any pieces have you carried with you through these moves and why are they special to you? (not just furniture, we’re also thinking of your wall of photos).
When we were first married, we lived in Rockport, Maine. A teeny little Harbor town in which there was just a little diner, a boatbuilding school and an antique store just down the street from our apartment. We actually lived on the first floor of an old shipbuilders’ home. There was an entire wall of corkboard in one room where the shipbuilder would put up all of his blueprints. We had no idea what to do with it, but slowly just started pinning photographs on it and soon enough, the entire wall was covered in photos. After we moved, we sorta missed the wall of photos & found ways to recreate it in each new home. We love it & so do the kids — its a conversation piece when we have folks over and even just among our family, the pictures always trigger a conversation or a fun memory. I actually just very recently found a photo of the original wall of photos in that apartment & added it to the wall here!
Many of the first pieces of furniture that we ever bought together were from the antique shop in Rockport. The Shaker table at our front door came from this shop. We remember buying each & every piece - much of it with wedding money — and sometimes, agonizing over it - will it fit? Can we afford it? If we weren’t sure (about either) the owner would just tell us to take it home and see how we liked it and then when we inevitably liked it, he’d tell us we could pay him when we had the money. We called it the Joe Castalucci payment plan. We’d go up each week with some money to pay for our furniture. We still refer to the pieces as “The Joe Castalucci Dresser” or chair, or table.
After our stint in Rockport, we moved down to Portland & both worked for a wholesaler of direct imported furniture and home accessories. We took advantage of the employee discount and were able to get some really gorgeous pieces that we’d probably never have been able to afford otherwise. The green painted cabinet in the dining room is from India - in other homes of ours, it usually served as a closet; but we like it as a liquor cabinet best.
5. Maine has such a distinct style, New England but also it’s own. Do you feel this has resonated with you? Why has this style in particular stayed with you?
We lived in a lot of places in Maine & I’m not sure there’s a particular style that has resonated with us so much as an approach to how we do things in our house. New Englanders are resourceful and purposeful. I think we just naturally try to find the most efficient use for something & when adding anything new; making sure it serves a purpose — which sometimes results in a little rearranging and/or purging. We definitely have things that are a little nod to our east coast life - collections of rocks from favorite beaches, paintings from an aunt of the Maine coast, and a driftwood garland that remains on our mantle year round. We’ve got a mix of styles and a mix of old and new & just try (hope!) it all works together. We’re super big on making due, and working with what we’ve got and finding something totally groovy that’s second hand or vintage is how we like to roll.
6. If each of you had an animal spirit, what would it be and why? Could you name an animal spirit for the family as a whole?
Animal sprit? Okay, that one caught me off guard! I don’t know. It’s not something I ever really think about. Maybe for us as a couple; and this is totally cliché, but I feel like we can get away with it cause we met in flight school - I’d say birds. You could say that we left our nest of New England a long time ago & made a new life for ourselves here. As far as the family as a whole, again - not sure … I always see the five of us as very tight. We come from a very large extended family & we are the only ones not living on the east coast — so, whatever sort of animals leave the mother land & travel together as a tightly knit pack — that’s us.
Photography by Marife I. Bautista firstname.lastname@example.org
question by megan and daniel