Monday, September 6, 2010

Hillbilly Debutante of the Month (September)

I am so excited to introduce you to the very first ever

Hillbilly Debutante of the Month.

Magical - that's the first word that came to mind when I brought my vintage, pink bicycle to a screeching halt in front of Kit Gulyas' Alexandria, Virginia home. Nestled between stereotypical WASP-y Federal style homes on a shady, tree-lined street, every evening I would ride my bike back and forth hoping to catch a glimpse of the person who called this precious cottage home.

I knew the owner had to be someone confident because they hadn't succumbed to the pressure of conforming to the cookie-cutter decor of the large and stately homes surrounding her. She was someone who paid attention to detail, but threw decorating rules out the window. Someone clever with an overactive imagination - and oh yeah. She was cool, too. I was sure of it.

I was not disappointed.

When I arrived at Kit's door on a hot, sultry August afternoon she greeted me at the door with a frosty glass of fresh lemonade. Casually elegant in a pair of faded blue jeans and worn-out cowboy boots she gave me a quick tour of the house before we sat down for her interview. (Afterward she gave me free rein to roam through the house and shoot photos.)

(Kit Gulyas)

(One word says it all)

Kit's storybook cottage is a reflection of what she calls a storybook life. The oldest of nine children in an Irish/Catholic family she was raised in New York City in a neighborhood where her maternal family was on one street, and her paternal family on the next. She describes her mother as having tons of energy and one that always saw the cup as 'overflowing.' The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

(her cowboy boots are leftover from her college days. Best friend Phoenix is never far away)

It's hard to imagine now, but when the Gulyas' bought their cottage

in 1984 it was dark, confined, and very small.

"This was two rooms," Kit says as she points to the desk behind me and then motions her arms to the other side of the room near the stone fireplace. "We removed the wall and added these heavy wooden beams to the ceiling and made it into a great room."

After painting the walls a light, airy beige she set about decorating.

"It's been heart and soul. Everything is flea market and thrift shop finds."

In the day-to-day fast-pace of the Washington, D.C. area, Kit has made a conscientious decision to live life simply and surround herself with things that mean something to her.

Among her prized possesions is her assortment of colorful, vintage camp blankets.

(more camp blankets)

She had no clue that that 'heart and soul' attitude toward decorating and her obsession with antiques would soon carve out a new lifestyle. After almost 30 years of working in non-profit, like many Americans, Kit found herself jobless.

"You know I wasn't the least bit concerned," she muses. "I'd always been able to find a job easily and I thought with my experience I'll find another job in no time."

But with the current economical down-turn, Kit found that she couldn't even get a foot in the door for an interview.

"I found that every H.R. director in the city had at least 5,000 applications to weed through and most of them were willing to do my job for next to nothing. It was impossible to compete. "

Not one to sit around and wait for opportunity and with the energy no doubt inherited from her mother, Kit wasted no time. While her husband, George was out of town she listed both spare bedrooms for rent. When George returned home two days later he was introduced to two new 'members' of the family.

So now with some of her income made up and extra time on her hands, she devoted more time to decorating.

"It's a good thing I'm not blind," George said. "Everytime I come home something has been moved."

Kit admits to often waking up in the middle of the night with an idea and will jump up to completely redecorate the room while it's still fresh in her mind.

It was during one of her midnight tirades that the idea of a new business was conceived.

"Vintage Skout" was created to serve several purposes with the most important one being giving Kit something to do to burn off her excessive energy.

"The first year after I lost my job I read books, which was fine for a while, but I was so used to being productive that it was very difficult for me to just 'settle down.'"

So she decided to turn her love for decorating and shopping for antiques into a business.

Kit serves as a personal shopper for the homeowner who is too busy or simply doesn't have a clue as to where to begin. Soon, clients will be able to host 'Vintage Skout' parties in their homes where Kit loads her latest booty up and puts it on display in the hosts home (by invitation only).

Once a month passers-by can take advantage of the loot during a tag sale on Kit's front lawn, which is how I met Kit.

Next on the agenda for Vintage Skout is making her cottage available for wedding showers, baby showers, rehearsal dinners and small parties.

(a few of the primitive dolls Kit creates - she also has a line of primitive ornaments)

This room divider which stands in front of the fireplace is decorated in son Barret's childhood artwork)

(another look at her primitives on display)

This is a view of one of the guest bedrooms (currently being rented out) from the threshold.
Make a pivotal turn and this is what you see:

It's all one room!

Master Bedroom

My favorite - I am such a sucker for a sun room.

View from the sunroom into the great room.

Nothing is left untouched by Kit's creative hands! Even the back yard fence oozes charm!
If you've been searching the world over for something specific and it's alluded you why not drop Kit a line? Chances are she has what you're looking for or she knows exactly where to find it!
Until Next Time,
P.S. If you'd like to nominate someone for November's Hillbilly Debutante of the Month send to:
(October's has already been chosen!)


Sheena Simpson said...

Wow! Her home is absolutely amazing! I want to go to one of her tag sales, to bad I live in Missouri.

Ruthann said...

Hey Miss Kathy! I just popped over here to see how you were doing...and as I scrolled down, to my delight, I saw the picture of you in that adorable necklace...which looks fabulous darling!!! And I also saw our pictures together at your book signing!! Yay! What a fun day that was to be able to hug your neck! And by the way YOU are the famous one! You are a living doll! Gutsy, gorgeous and graceful all in one! Bless you darlin'! By the way, I love your new Hillbilly Debutante of the Month feature!!!!
Love ya hon,
Sugar Pie Farmhouse

bj said...

Hi, Kathy...this is amazing.
I would love to go to one of her sales.

I haven't started your book as yet. i do all my reading in the cold of winter..before my fire with a cup of something hot. I'm so glad to have your book and anxious to start reading.

Tommie Jo said...

What an interesting, fascinating lady!

trash talk said...

I love this and her. What a way to demonstrate that when life hands you lemons...make lemoncello!

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

Delighted to have found your blog thru Ruthann's! I'm the other side of the beltway and always enjoy meeting "nearly neighbor" blogging friends. Have had fun exploring your great blog, am following and hope to look around more plus find your book. Best wishes to you on what sounds to be a very tough day.

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