Sometimes the small details in a home really do make all the difference.
When Lyda Cort, her husband Andy, and their young son moved into their Noe Valley home, the previous owners had already made some of the big changes other new homeowners might have to tackle — a new fireplace, hall carpeting and wall-to-floor kitchen cabinetry.
So rather than knocking down walls and reconstructing the interior, Cort has used art and an eclectic collection of vintage objects to bring warmth and her own personality to the spacious two-story house.
Her collection is in part objects and art whose stories she knows well. Cort trained as a textile artist at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and many of the prints in the home — such as a series of framed, paperback-sized prints that runs along the crown molding in the dining room — were made by friends who are also trained artists.
“Most of my friends are printmakers and I love their work,” she said.
Other objects — a vintage French wedding crown display, a brittle and colorful antique collection of ceramicists’ glazes — have histories closer in age to the Victorian-era house itself.
If renovations come later on, Cort expects to be circumspect about the changes.
“I also have a hard time with throwing perfectly good materials away,” she said. “I think if I was younger I would have probably ripped everything out by now!”
Now, she said, she’s more aware of waste and reuse.
“You have a kid and you just start worrying about that stuff more.”
On looking closer each room is also full of surprises — like the arrangement of tiny antique mirrors hidden on a rear wall of the bathroom.
Other decorative touches solve problems.
Cort covered a noisy bathroom fan vent with a vintage floral painted metal flue cover — the vintage piece also complements two picture book-sized antique framed floral prints on the same wall.
A large antique table and bench spans a window at the end of the dining room, which is otherwise largely free of furniture, opening up play space for her son.
A difficult narrow section of kitchen wall pops with color from three bright, powder-coated magnetic noteboards, wall-mounted one on top of the other.
“We always had magnets on our fridge,” Cort says, but because the new fridge isn’t magnetic the family had lost that display space in their new home.
Favorite pieces: Dining room farm table, buck lamp in bedroom
Favorite room: Dining room
<strong>Favorite colors: Green, blue
Favorite stores: Zonal in Hayes Valley and Tail of the Yak and The Gardener in Berkeley
Favorite artists: Francesco Clemente, Starn brothers