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.
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.)
"It's been heart and soul. Everything is flea market and thrift shop finds."
Among her prized possesions is her assortment of colorful, vintage 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.
"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.
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)
It's all one room!
View from the sunroom into the great room.