The moment Dan Gazzana stepped into a 1910 California craftsman in Racine, he realized he found his home. “The first time I walked into this house I was incredibly overwhelmed by its beauty,” he says. “By the time I got to the walk-up attic, I knew I wanted it.”
That was 11 years ago, and Gazzana has since transformed the roomy abode into a showplace of style, sophistication and extraordinary comfort. The 10-room house features 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a welcoming sunroom and a cozy den any homeowner would envy.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the house, however, are the thousands of fine details in décor. From exquisitely refurbished antique furniture and multiple sets of china and crystal (all on display) to original artworks and miniature figurines, the home is truly a feast for the eyes. Each item is placed with museum-like care and thought concerning light, color, texture and how it complements the area that surrounds it.
“The den is a great example of what you can do with a small space,” says Gazzana. “My realtor told me it was originally used as a cigar-and-brandy lounge for gentlemen. I added numerous accents that layer on texture, giving the tiny room depth. It’s a great spot to settle in on cold nights, particularly when I have the fireplace roaring.”
When asked his secret for displaying items without creating clutter, Gazzana laughs. “Doesn’t it look cluttered to you? But seriously, it can be a challenge to form vignettes that create interest. You have to take your time with them. Many of my guests ask if they can walk through the house just to take it all in. I consider that a compliment.”
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Restoring Resale Finds
What guest don’t realize is that the majority of the home’s furnishings, accents and art came from antique shops, estate sales and resale stores. “I’d say 95-percent of the items you see are from secondhand sources,” says Gazzana.
“When I first moved in, shopping for bargains was a necessity. I needed to be frugal and realized I could find high-end items at a fraction of the retail cost. I can’t explain the high I feel when I discover artwork, silver or crystal for next to nothing. My favorite find was a grandfather clock for $25.”
Gazzana quickly became a pro at refurbishing pieces, and a striking dining room chandelier is a shining example of his no-fuss restoration know-how. “I came across a chandelier for $50 but it was missing nearly half the crystals,” he explains. “I later found another chandelier and I picked it up for $25. I scavenged the crystal from the less-expensive fixture and filled in the missing pieces on the chandelier I wanted for the dining room.” The final result created a spectacular focal point for the room that would likely sell in the upper hundreds.
Decorating with upcycled items can be tricky, and this homeowner has some advice for those new to antiquing. “Try to have a plan before shopping,” Gazzana recommends. “Know what you’re looking for and take your time. Try not to feel rushed to make a buying decision.
“Look over your cart and think about your purchases before heading to the cashier, otherwise, you could end up with buyer’s remorse. I have an entire attic full of buyer’s remorse,” he laughs.
“Today, hitting up local resale shops is a hobby for me,” says Gazzana. “I still collect Haeger pottery, slag glass lamps and vintage barware, but I don’t shop nearly as often as I used to. The house is pretty set as is.”
Gazzana’s guests would likely agree. Based on its beauty, extreme detail and extraordinary interest, there is little that could be added to make this house any more impressive than it already is.