Relax and stay awhile
Learn how one couple turned an old garage into a cozy, French-inspired guest cottage.
The Arnoldis transformed their run-down, dirty garage into a French-inspired guesthouse.
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Jeff and Kerry Arnoldi’s home tells a story. It tells of their travels and the years they lived in Alaska and Russia. It tells of their childhoods — Jeff’s love for his grandfather, who played a key role in his life, and Kerry’s creative spirit fostered by her paternal grandmother.
The home also tells of their passions. Jeff, a retired chemical engineer, collects slide rules and scientific apparatuses. Kerry, a certified home stager, is a master decorator and loves to refurbish furniture.
It seems the two couldn’t be more different. But, in love and in decorating, their story is one where opposites really do attract. Kerry has masterfully combined their heirlooms, collectibles and individual styles to create a home full of history, warmth, comfort and beauty.
“(Our home) is a real combination of him and me,” Kerry says.
The same can be said for the couple’s guesthouse, formerly a run-down, dirty garage with quarters, which the couple remodeled with the help of contractor Paul Belongia, into a space that artfully displays many of their mementos.
“The carriage house was a total dump, but it had a good foundation,” Kerry says. “It had possibilities I could see immediately and, when I walked in, I said, ‘This is exactly what I have been looking for.’ I saw the finished result in my mind right then. The process, however, was not so quick, but it was worth it.”
The “little house,” as it’s known to the Arnoldis, is nestled at the back of their downtown Tulsa property and is surrounded by a pristine pool and lush gardens Kerry tends herself. One look at the picturesque cottage with its black and white awning and bright red doors, and you think you’ve stepped into a quaint French village.
Ever the gracious hosts and compassionate caregivers — the couple cares for three disabled family members — their goal for the guesthouse was to create an open, bright and cheerul place for their family and friends to enjoy when they need a respite. It’s a space where those they love can come for what they like to call a “Kerrycation.”
“It’s just a place to recuperate or get away, feel better or get happy,” Kerry says.
Happy is exactly what you feel when you step into the little house that sleeps five. White-washed walls featuring wood planks original to the house and large black and white square tiles reminiscent of a ’50s-style diner provide the perfect backdrop for Kerry’s colorful design aesthetic in pops of red, yellow and blue.
Her inspiration started with a single Souleiado scarf she found in Provence, France, and kept for years until she knew exactly what she wanted to do with it. Kerry bought a piece of the colorful linen in every French village she visited and eventually turned the scarfs into pillow shams and a tablecloth into a bed coverlet.
“I already had all of the French (linens) folded up,” she says. “I had been collecting them for a long time and I knew that this could be the place (for them).”
Ask her where she bought the rest of her décor and, while there is a story behind just about every piece, Kerry’s answer will be “a junk store here” or “a flea market there.”
“My style is different because we travel and go to flea markets, and we just pick up stuff,” Kerry says.