Welcome to the next installment of our Home Tour series, where we step inside the spaces of some of our favorite design-world friends to chat all things decor and learn how they’ve turned their house into a home.
We’re thrilled to take a peek inside the Cincinnati home of Jessie Salzbrun, whose Instagram account @thesalthaus offers up some of the dreamiest decor inspiration we’ve seen. Her modern-meets-traditional aesthetic pairs perfectly with the classic bones of her 1850s house, which she and her husband Andrew have worked hard to thoughtfully restore while adding their own updated touches.
Jessie’s home, which she also shares with her toddler Jett and pup Shabba, is the picture of creativity, charm, and family comfort. We’ll let her give the grand tour and spill all the swoon-worthy details!
Tell us about your style! How would you describe the look of your home and aesthetic?
I’m sure there’s a better descriptor for it, but we call our style French Modern because it has lots of similarities to beautiful Parisian homes made modern. Our home was built in 1853 and has an enormous amount of original detailing. In particular, detailed plaster molding that we maintained and restored as a part of our renovation.
What made you choose to move into this home? What were you looking for?
We toured the home with some friends without expecting to fall in love with it. It was very dark and traditionally decorated. Lots of heavy drapery, maroon, and navy blue walls. As soon as we walked in the front door, we couldn’t get past the grandeur of the space. We put in an offer later that day.
What has the process been like designing your space, and making your house feel like a home?
When you take on a whole home remodel, it’s hard to not want every space to be 100% “done” immediately. For a long time, our rooms were brightened up with paint and furnished, but didn’t have much personality. It has taken several years to add to that foundation (and it’s still very much in progress) through art, rugs, decor pieces, etc.
What is your most treasured item in your home?
The people in it. From the outside, our home may look untouched and pristine. But up close, it’s so very lived in. We don’t stress over scratches in our floor, knicks in our wall. Because no matter how beautiful a house is, it’s not the physicality of it that makes it treasured. It’s the people who inhabit it. The people make it home.
You have a young son—and he’s so cute! How has having a baby changed the way you think about your home?
Aside from baby gates on all of our staircases, having a child hasn’t changed much about the way we think about our home. We are design minimalists and even with a toddler as a roommate, we haven’t changed that. Many, many people warned me to “just wait” for our house to be overrun with noisy, plastic toys. That our aesthetic isn’t practical for a child. But it works! We cordon off the one room that is truly not baby-friendly and he has free rein everywhere else. And we just completed a nursery for him which is just as beautiful and minimal as the rest of the house—not a noisy plastic toy to be found (he doesn’t miss them, I promise).
What are your favorite things to do at home with your family? Is there a particular space you all like to gather and spend time in?
The room we spend the most time in as a family is Jett’s new playroom which we just converted from a sitting room this winter. It is a space that was designed with enormous intentionality, both for how it would function and how it would look. It’s our favorite space to spend time with Jett, to really get down on his level and play.
We have to ask about your rugs! What rugs do you have from Rugs USA, and what made them the perfect fit for your space?
My living room has the beige Diamond Chevron Bands Tasseled rug. We had an oversized jute rug in place for several years and it was so impractical. The rug shed like crazy and our dog’s claws just destroyed the thing. But we loved its thickness and cushion, so we decided to select a rug to layer on top. We went with cotton so that it was functional again—something we can sit on and Jett can play on.
Our dining room has the black Ring Around the Rosette rug. I love the idea of a black rug in the dining room because we all know how dirty rugs can get with food spills. It is just the perfect addition to that room, both in design and in function.
Let’s talk projects! What DIYs or renovations have you done in your home? What’s next on your to-do list?
Our initial renovation lasted seven months and was a top-to-bottom rehab of the entire house. Some rooms just needed paint, others were completely gutted and redesigned. That first reno was done by a contractor because it involved moving walls, installing plumbing, running new electric, etc.
But since then, I take on almost all of our projects on my own and they get more ambitious by the day. I create my own art, build my own furniture, and draw my own murals. Currently on my to-do list is a dining room overhaul. Step one was refinishing our table and replacing our rug. Step two involves installing wall molding—this is a project I’m equal parts intimidated and excited by.
It’s not always smooth sailing when it comes to decorating, especially with older homes. Can you talk about some challenges or any weird design quirks you came across?
The hardest part about updating an old home is in knowing where to draw the line on keeping its character. When we bought our home, it had been updated most recently in the 80s. I had to remind myself that removing the sponge paint on the walls was not removing any historic detail. Nor was gutting the kitchen which was also not original to the home. Sometimes starting with a blank slate (in my case all white walls and trim) is the best way to let those historic details shine.
Do you have any design tips you’ve discovered while decorating that you’re willing to spill?
Don’t deny the power of faux plants. We have a ton of real plants, some of them over 8 feet tall and thriving. But there are places in our home where plants just don’t thrive. We’ve killed more plants than we care to admit by trying to force it in poorly lit corners. So now we leverage a great mix of real and faux greenery. My favorite way to fancy up a boring table or shelf is to throw a vase with fake eucalyptus on it. I have one vase in particular that travels from room to room for photos. Perhaps it’s time I get more!
What do you love most about your home?
We as a family feel safe, comfortable, and loved here. Our home is truly our sanctuary, and has become even more so during Covid times. Before this year, we frequently opened up our house to friends and acquaintances and we can’t wait to do so again soon. But until then, this is where we spend almost every waking moment and so having a house where we can truly feel “home” is all the more important.
All photos courtesy of Jessie Salzbrun.