#4SquareStyle with Sandra Cavallo

#4SquareStyle with Sandra Cavallo (@oldsilvershed)
#4SquareStyle with Sandra Cavallo (@oldsilvershed)

On Home

I am a graphic designer and feel like it’s my job to visually tell you who we are as a family when you come into our home, not only through photos around the house but by all of the elements. I love the challenge of telling our story this way. It is very personal. Using low sofas, small gathering areas, comfortable easy fabrics and natural, non-fussy design elements say “come on in and relax” and our collections give you a real sense of who we are as a family.

Our home is an intimate look at our family’s history. The collections we have here are like a blueprint of our life together. I like to surround us with things that remind us of our adventures and experiences.

Four Elements of My Design Style

Vintage-modern bathroom in a New England beach cottage.  Design by Sandra Cavallo, @oldsilvershed

Vintage-Modern Mix

I am drawn to all examples of great design, whether it’s a simple seashell or an intricate old picture frame. This has made it impossible to box myself into one design style because I am truly inspired by anything that is beautifully designed.  I have always leaned toward classic modern furniture for most of the important pieces in our main rooms. I find their simplicity and utilitarian nature easy to work with and very appealing.

Our home is newly built, but because of our location on Cape Cod, we wanted the house to feel like it was here for a hundred years and could stay a hundred more. We used classic shingle-style design rules when we built it, and added as many of the old elements from the original cottage that was here to the new house. Mixing my love for the old New England beach-cottage style with my passion for modern furniture has been challenging.

New England beach cottage living room with a collected mix of vintage and modern.  Design by Sandra Cavallo, @oldsilvershed


I am a collector, and I prefer a "collected" home to a "decorated" one. I will rarely buy something because I need it to fill a space…rather, I love something, I buy it and I find a place for it. I never know what I will collect next, and it usually goes like this: “That is a beautiful seashell, the colors, the shape, the detail. I’m going to keep this!” And because my eye has been alerted to the beauty of it, I find myself looking at all seashells in search of more to add to my collection.

One of the most important rules to collecting for me is that whatever I keep is authentic. For example, I am not one to buy the mass-produced, "deconstructed" furniture. That feels like an oxy-moron? But definitely give me the real-deal broken down chair…there is something about its honesty!

Neutral New England beach cottage living room with a vintage-modern mix. Design by Sandra Cavallo, @oldsilvershed

Neutral Palette

Living on Cape Cod and across from Buzzard’s Bay, I prefer a neutral color palette here because we have walls of windows that bring the outside in and I don’t want to fight with our view. I like to add a pop of trendy color here and there and I love to change these accessories with the seasons.

New England beach cottage guest bedroom with a mix of vintage and modern design. Design by Sandra Cavallo, @oldsilvershed

Practical Utility

I like to keep things real and useful. I’m not one to layer a million pillows on my sofa, I don’t do tablescapes because we don’t live that way and I really don’t like clutter. I put lamps where we need them, chairs where they are useful (not because they look good there) and I really think about how we live practically so our home works for us. Once that is established, it’s easy to work around it. Collections have the potential to be visually overwhelming in a home, so I keep my collections quietly in bookcases and built-ins…so if you are inclined to look closely, you can go over and see them, but they never jump out at you.