Virginia Chamlee and Tom Canfield toured at least a dozen homes in Jacksonville, FL before stumbling on the listing that would eventually become #projectbelvedere. The 1920s house offered everything that Virginia, a writer, and Tom, who works in the banking industry, had been looking for — a lovely neighborhood, plenty of historical accents and charm, a comfortable living space and the large kitchen that Virginia had always dreamed of. “Plus, I wanted something that could be a project — which it definitely was,” Virginia adds.
Turning their historic house into the right home for them didn’t come without hiccups. Shortly after buying the house, the couple decided to undertake a big kitchen renovation. Midway through, they discovered extensive water damage in the walls of another part of the house. The walls had to be taken apart and reconstructed entirely — “it was a worst case scenario kind of thing,” Virginia says. Just about a week after the damage had been fixed, Hurricane Irma hit Jacksonville. Even though Virginia and Tom were smack in the middle of their renovation and had no floors, they decided to seek refuge in their new home, since it was located further inland than the apartment they still lived in. “We lost power for over a week, and had some leaks, but fortunately didn’t see too much damage from the storm. Weathering a storm like that helped cement the fact that this house was our refuge (quite literally, in this case) and made me fall more in love with it. It’s nearly 100 years old, so it’s been through a lot. That makes it even more magical a place,” Virginia shares.
As the editor of Jacksonville Magazine, Virginia feels very connected to her city and is devoted to capturing its pulse. Experiencing a natural disaster like Irma really proved that something good can come out of even the most disastrous events. “The community really banded together after Irma struck— once the water receded, local businesses opened their doors so people could charge their phones or just grab a cup of coffee. We were new to the neighborhood and still felt very connected,” she explains.
Virginia found the two 1970s lithographs by artist Nancy Denison at an antique store. To make them pop, she chose Cole and Son Orchid wallpaper as the background. The chandelier is vintage, a piece that Virginia bought when she was 18. “I swore to put it in my future home. It sat in storage until we moved in,” she shares.
The uniquely shaped sofa was a Craigslist find and was designed by Vladimir Kagan. “The windows in this room are one of my favorite pieces of the house,” Virginia adds.