She Shares Silver Shed Stories by the Seashore
Peek inside Interior designer Sandra Cavallo’s Falmouth home that has captivated her followers.
It may seem like a tongue-twister, but for hundreds of thousands of online followers of the Old Silver Shed Instagram account, the stories Sandra Cavallo shares from her charming home across from Old Silver Beach in Falmouth, each post is a moment of delightful satisfaction. Cavallo, an interior designer with a robust clientele of homeowners across the Cape, Southern New England, Long Island and beyond, publicly answers the question: What does the design professional’s own home look like? Now due to the enigmatic allure of Instagram and the immediate and vast communicability the digital age has wrapped around us, that question is answered, discussed and shared, sometimes even before we have formulated the thought.
Cavallo, whose life is a stitched together kaleidoscope of Cape memories–bohemian summers as a teenager spent camping in Truro, weekends as a young couple in love at her boyfriend’s (now husband) home in Falmouth as they buzzed along the coast of Buzzards Bay in his Porsche, busy summers as a young mother of twins who had just re-located from California to a small, breezy ranch in Falmouth when seemingly every West Coast friend took them up on a visit to the Cape. And as they started to build their Old Silver Shed, a new home that feels anything but, the memories of raising a family, welcoming guests in memorable and meaningful ways, the vignettes of her warm and beguiling home have become a digital, influencing, evolving personality of their own.
Cavallo’s hashtag, #welivehere is not only a true statement, but succinctly captures her straightforward approach. “I originally started to post images of our home and design choices on Instagram not to promote anything–not myself, not my business, not our project–but rather to share a story,” Cavallo explains. “This home, every last thing in it, is the story of our life, our travels, our friends and family, and the evolution through the years of our family.” That all sounds simple, but like most things, the complexity and richness is found in the details. To illustrate Cavallo’s point, a large heart-shaped rock found on a local beach by her son when he was a child, holds a place of honor in one of the beach stone fireplaces that are found throughout the home. Or the framed opera promotional posters that line an upstairs hallway, which remind the family of every performance they attended while living in Zurich, Switzerland. Or the countless collections Cavallo and her family have accumulated throughout the years: folk hearts collected in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, where she tries to buy two (acknowledging her twins) whenever she can, or the crisp white coral that adorns a shelf above her kitchen sink, or the new collection of shells found while vacationing in St. Bart’s this year—these are all pieces in the patchwork of memories Cavallo and her family hold dear.
Cavallo’s knack for blending old with new seems effortless. Case in point, their home was built on the site where a dilapidated, almost condemned antique Victorian once stood. Unable to resurrect or restore the home, she and her husband dismantled the structure and saved every last thing of interest. Doors, moldings, fixtures, hardware; they were all put in storage and utilized in the newly built home they designed themselves. Whether the actual item has found a place in the new home, or was used to create profiles for newly crafted pieces, this new house channels the past like a an omniscient medium.
“We met with a variety of architects when we decided we couldn’t make the old house work, but no one seemed to understand what we were after,” Cavallo shares. “So, one night at dinner down the street, I sketched it out on the back of a placemat. Our site is like a promontory that stands watch over Old Silver Beach and the precious marsh across from the beach. Yet I didn’t want to loom over all that natural beauty. I have enough appreciation for how imposing, unassimilated structures can ruin your day at the beach, I didn’t want any part of that.” As a result, the new home seems to have sprouted from the earth, as the canopy of the established trees provide visual interest and just enough shade for the deck that is used and enjoyed with great frequency.
Ubiquitous and iconic blue hydrangea blooms, that seem to command center stage in many of her photos, are set in antique planters or a collection of slightly mis-matched bud vases or spilling out of an antique crate. Mismatched china seems to have been paired perfectly and deliberately, antique linens and soft pelts and hides grace rustic natural furniture to give it an approachable ease and softness. The color palette throughout takes it cue from the natural world only a stone’s throw away.
Sandra Cavallo’s home, while referred to as an Old Silver Shed, is actually a warm and inviting story that has been in the making for the past 18 years; as her son and daughter have navigated their way into adulthood, as her friends from the West Coast and beyond drop a line or send a text to see if they are still welcome, as she and her husband write their next chapter. As she says, she doesn’t share her home with the world to get a reaction, she is just sharing her story.
Julie Craven Wagner is the editor of Cape Cod HOME.