House Tour: A Cottage for the Old Soul, Part I

With an eye for flair and a soft spot for old things, shop owner Marcela Cavaglieri’s passion is apparent through her living and surroundings. Take a peek inside her home to unlock a portal to old world cottage style.


Marcela’s farmhouse table came from an antiques shop and is surrounded by a set of chairs acquired at a flea market. The hutch holds her collection of blue and brown transferware. Marcela placed the hutch in front of a window because it was the only wall that could accommodate the large piece and the many other windows still provided ample light.

Marcela Cavaglieri didn’t learn from her mother or her decorating magazines the joys of shabby country furniture. She just likes old stuff. It’s a declaration her young daughter is versed in explaining, and Marcela often tells the story of the time when her daughter brought a friend over after school and gave fair warning about what lay inside their neat suburban home in the pristine streets of San Clemente, California. “Just so you know,” her daughter explained to her young friend before opening the front door, “We’re not poor; my mom just likes old stuff.”

Among Marcela’s collections are brown transferware and variations on the    letter “C.”

Originally from Argentina, Marcella moved to the United States with her sister 20 years ago. “When we left Argentina, no one there knew anything about old vintage style and antiques,” she says. “Our parents were not into old items either—back then people wanted nothing to do with beat up things.” However, young and broke, the two sisters turned to vintage items and street-side castoffs because it was the best way for them to furnish their home. “We came from nothing and we had to furnish a house,” she says. “We learned of garage sales and we were blown away with the kinds of amazing things we saw on the street on trash day.” They would refurbish and repaint their finds, making items that were more than presentable, they were impressive and charming. “People would come over and compliment our things and we began to learn that this type of thing existed. We went to our first antiques markets and we learned that there was a name for what we do,” she says. Soon, the two sisters encouraged by their friends and motivated by the passion they had developed for finding and transforming antique and vintage items struck out to forge their own business finding and selling their updated creations in their own stall in an antiques market.

Antique finds like this clock are displayed among other vintage finds like this old book.

After ten years as a dealer and the last six of it running her own retail storefront with her sister, Marcella has stayed true to her original cottage aesthetic even in her own home. Outside, her house blends quietly in with the rest of the tract homes on her block however inside the décor is anything but mass made. Her furniture is a collection of her favorite salvaged creations, many of which are amongst the first pieces she remade 20 years ago when she began building her home in America. “When I buy a piece and I bring it home I have it for a long time,” she says. “Actually one of the reasons I bought this house is because it was one of the only houses we looked at that could fit my farm table.” Marcella is an oddity in an industry where dealers swap out their furnishing as often as they find new ones on the hunt. “For me, everything that comes into the house comes in because I just cannot part with it.”

Stayed tuned for part two of our house tour!

By Jickie Torres

Photgraphy by Mark Tanner

Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel

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