The best thing about Instagram is when you discover a new account and find yourself scrolling through endlessly feeling like you are connecting with a long lost friend. For those of you following Andrea Siwiec @acquired_by_andrea on Instagram, I’m sure you know just what I’m talking about, and if you don’t follow her yet, you are in for a very special treat!
Andrea and her family live in a beautiful 1929 Georgian Colonial Revival located in Buffalo, New York on a parkway designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead. Purchased in 2018, the Siwiecs have spent the last two years restoring their 6,000 square foot home. After the covid shut down, Andrea decided to start documenting the home’s transformation on Instagram as a way to connect with friends, family, and like-minded design enthusiasts…. and she already has over 34,000 followers! I was surprised to learn she has no formal design training, in fact, Andrea is a full-time high school guidance counselor. I am delighted to welcome her today for a Style Profile Q&A along with a tour of her exquisite home.
Q: Please tell us about your beautiful home and when you started your Instagram account to document?
A: We purchased our Georgian Colonial Revival home in 2018. It’s located in Buffalo, New York on one of Fredrick Law Olmstead’s celebrated historic Parkways. The views outside of our windows are incredibly picturesque. Often times you’ll see couples picnicking, teenagers playing a game of catch, families biking or folks cross country skiing. Built in 1929, with only one original owner before us, the house was in desperate need of a refresh. We began restoration work on the 3rd floor and worked our way down to the basement. Certain rooms like the kitchen and master bathroom needed a complete overhaul. We instantly fell in love with the house from the moment we first walked in because of all the historical elements, character and charm it boasted. Four wood-burning fireplaces, numerous sets of French doors, commanding floor to ceiling windows, built-in bookcases and china cabinets throughout and an original water fountain in the marble solarium were just a few distinct features that captured our hearts. As daunting we knew it would be, we were ready, willing and eager to restore our beloved home and so happy we did. It’s been a true labor of love!
It took us close to two years to restore our 6000-square foot home, which we completed about 3 months prior to the pandemic. We love to entertain but had to take a 2-year hiatus due to the work that was being done on our home. When we finally finished the project, we were anxious to have people over again, especially to see the reveal of our house. We hosted some great dinner parties just before shut down but there were still so many family and friends who didn’t get an opportunity to see the house. That’s when I decided to share and document our home journey on Instagram ~ it was a way for family and friends to see our house continue to transform (especially the decorating phase, which is still in progress!) during the pandemic who couldn’t see it in person.
Once our house was restored it was so refreshing and liberating to have a blank canvas to begin the interior design process, which meant “acquiring” all new furniture and home décor to match the home’s classic and traditional personality. I began taking pictures (all from my iPhone, mind you!) to showcase the splendid features of our home but to also document the process in which I acquire home décor in particular antiques and vintage items to style my home. And that’s how “Acquired by Andrea” developed and came about.
Q: How do you describe you style, and do you have formal training as an interior designer?
A: I describe my design style as classic and traditional with a touch of regency glam. I am definitely not afraid of color, or bold colors for that matter. The color scheme I like to infuse throughout my house is pinks, greens and blues which are just happy colors to me and brighten any mood. I also love mixing the old with the new to create a look that feels warm, welcoming, loved and lived in.
I do not have any formal training as interior designer ~ I’m actually a full-time High School Guidance Counselor. Since my very first apartment, I have always loved interior design and décor, it’s become a passion and a fun outlet for me.
Q: Who are your favorite interior designers – past and present?
A: There are so many fabulous and inspiring designers so it’s hard to just name a few! I tend to gravitate towards interior designers that share that same sense of style as myself ~ classic and traditional, timeless and elegant. Some of my favorite designers past and present are: Bunny Williams, Anna Louise Wolfe, Mark Hampton, Mario Buatta, Dorothy Draper, and Carlton Varney ~ who I had the pleasure of meeting last fall at The Greenbrier Resort ~ a true gentleman who has the most fascinating stories to tell.
Q: What are your favorite resources for decorating your home? How do you achieve the such perfect blend of old and new?
A: I have acquired some of the most beautiful and heirloom quality furniture and décor pieces for my home through second hand sources. Some of my go-to places are: antique galleries, estate sales, consignment shops, and even local thrift stores which are a great way to find unique pieces while supporting the community. There is something so thrilling and exciting, and maybe even a tad addicting, to be on the hunt for one-of-a-kind-items. I have also acquired many antique and vintage pieces through on-line sources such as 1st Dibs, Chairish, Etsy and ebay. Instagram also has some wonderful accounts that sell curated home décor such as @shopsplendorinthesouth who is one of my favorites. I often tell people to look in their own basements or attics, or even their parent’s or grandparent’s, and dig out some of the pieces that have been passed down to them ~ nothing is more special or sentimental than displaying a piece of their own family’s history. Some of my favorite décor pieces are those handed down to me.
I love collecting antiques and vintage items because they have a rich history, soul, and tell a story. I would say 60% of our furnishings, accent pieces, rugs and décor are antiques ~ not only do we love the look of antiques but we love that these pieces are of exceptional quality and craftsmanship that can be passed down to our sons and their children one day. However, achieving the perfect blend of old and new is like an art form. It has to be done right or else it will look mismatched. A room that successfully combines old and new is cohesive, calm and balanced, and produces the perfect juxtaposition. For example, in one of my son’s bedrooms we have a 100 year-old Heriz Persian rug, with an detailed antique mahogany Kittinger desk, mixed with a modern clear acrylic Eiffel chair and abstract oil painting – the harmony between his old and new pieces work splendidly. Another example is in our solarium where we have a late 18th century hand-carved Italianate library table that we paired with sleek modern lamps with clean lines.
Q: Do you have any favorite collections or antiques?
A: Oh, boy do I! I could list so many but I’ll stick to my top favorites!
1.) Majolica pottery ~ Whenever I am antiquing or at an estate sale I’m always on the hunt for whimsical hand-painted vegetable ware. From cabbage plates and bowls, to asparagus platters and cups, to cauliflower pitchers to multi-vegetable soup tureens, I have at least 100 vintage pieces of majolica that are displayed in my built-in china cabinets. I try to stick to the pink and green colored glazing to complement the chinoiserie mural wallpaper in my dining room. They are just a joy to collect.
2.) Cookbooks ~ I love to cook and bake so I am always searching for the perfect recipe. I have well over 350 cookbooks, many of which are vintage, that I have displayed on a floor to ceiling built-in bookcase in our master bedroom. I read cookbooks like they are novels! I am always excited to find an old cookbook with handwritten notes from the previous owner. Some of my oldies but goodies are the Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.
3.) Staffordshire Dogs ~ In my opinion, every traditional style home needs at least one pair of authentic Staffordshire Dogs to display on a mantel or shelf. I went to an estate sale about 4 years ago and the gentleman of the home had a collection of over 200 Staffordshire Dogs – it was amazing – I acquired five pairs from the sale and that’s what started my expansive collection.
4.) Antique rugs ~ my husband has an affinity for really old handwoven rugs from all over the world. Most of the rugs in our home, as well as our ski house, are 75 years or older ~ and some would argue they look brand new. Well cared for rugs can last generations and become priceless heirloom pieces. All of our sons have antique rugs in their bedrooms and our hope is they will become beloved pieces in their homes one day.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: The Glam Pad of course!! The Glam Pad has been incredibly instrumental in helping me seek inspiration for styling and decorating my home. There is nothing better than waking up to one of your blog posts and reading it with a cup of coffee in hand ~ so thank you Andrea! I also love following hundreds of home décor accounts on Instagram ~ I have developed such a wonderful network of talented friends who are so inspirational to me each and every day!
Q: You always post the most delicious recipes and menus on Instagram! What is your secret to elegant cooking during the workweek?
A: My secret to elegant cooking is the ambiance that is created around it. It doesn’t matter if you are making Coq Au Vin or Pizza ~ light some candles, play music, use cloth napkins, pull out the good china and crystal stemware, add some fresh flowers, and eat in the dining room ~ even if it’s a Wednesday! It only takes an extra few minutes to make a weeknight dinner special and memorable. Since my three sons were toddlers we always made sure that family dinners were a priority even during busy weeks. My husband and I made a point to get into the habit of making our meals feel like a special event. Dinner is something we all always look forward to. We also encouraged our sons to get involved in the cooking process since they were young so we all had an active role. My son Nate developed such a talent he earned a spot as a contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped Junior television show a few years ago! It’s really the small details that make a big impact.
Q: When you aren’t busy decorating, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: I have three handsome teenage sons and a wonderful husband, so I enjoy spending as much quality time with my family as possible. We love to travel. Prior to the pandemic we would spend one month each summer traveling the globe. The cultures, architecture, and fascinating people we have met through travel have been so priceless to us. We also enjoy spending winter weekends at our ski house in Ellicottville, NY and also enjoy dipping our toes in the sand at our beach house in Melbourne Beach, FL. I love gardening, entertaining, strolling antique markets and even pampering myself at the spa from time to time.
Q: What do you most look forward to resuming, post Covid?
A: Hands down travel and entertaining. I feel like a part of my soul is missing without them.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: If I can offer any advice when it comes to decorating a home here it is ~ It takes time to procure a space and it should be done in layers not all at once. Once of my favorite interior designers, the late Mario Buatta once said it best: “A room has to come together the way a garden grows – a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow and the rest when the spirit moves you.”
Thank you so much for having me and allowing me to share my home with your readers.
Thank you, Andrea, for joining us today, and for the kind words! 🙂 Your beautiful home and gracious living are truly an inspiration!