Photo stylist redoes historic Victorian Petaluma

Santa Rosa natives and high school sweethearts Brad Villeggiante and Caroline Hall were blissful in the cozy 1,200 square foot West Petaluma Cottage they had remodeled from the ground up. But when their daughter, Cecily, arrived six years ago, the couple was inspired to dream bigger.

As in, really big. What they found was an eight-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot Queen Anne in the historic Brewster-Oak Hill neighborhood of Petaluma. The house was founded as a private hospital and was later converted into a youth group home and a tourist lodge.

But Hall, art director, stylist and independent producer, could tell the house had potential, both for a new chapter as a single-family home, and also as a new source of income as a filming and shooting location. of pictures.

“We went to an open house and watched it and loved it way more than we thought,” Hall said. “At first my husband was convinced, mainly because it was so big.”

The Hall House in Petaluma. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)
Daylight streams through gauzy curtains into the main living room, where Hall’s love of plants is on full display, with feathers, antlers and a large fiddle-leaf fig tree. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)
Hall’s love for plants is on full display. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)

Hall immediately noticed that the house, built in 1905 and adorned with large windows throughout, was much brighter than other Victorian-style homes, and still had some much sought-after original features, including wood floors, crown molding crowned, antique chandeliers and stained glass windows. -glazed windows.

“What I loved was all the amazing light,” Hall says. The couple did not want to change any of the good things. Their mission was to refresh the interior and make it more attractive for commercial photography work as well as their own family life.

Hall and Villegiante tore up the dated wallpaper, restored the floors, and repainted the entire house.

“We scratched the paint for a year,” laughs Hall. “We kind of just took one piece at a time.”

Decorating such a large space was an adventure – one that was no problem for Hall, who had a large collection of props and furniture that she had used at work and on photo shoots over the years.

The family undertook a major kitchen renovation during the pandemic. They kept beautiful original stained glass but added a great new range, honeycomb tile backsplash and IKEA cabinetry. On weekends, Hall usually has a cooking project simmering all day — often homemade soup or bread. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)

Overall, Hall and Villeggiante created an eclectic mix of Victorian industrial and ornate contemporary, like metal airplane chairs from Restoration Hardware paired with an upholstered sofa. Hall has reflected on her love of plants with terrariums, cloches, houseplants and science posters. “The house was amazing, like a sponge,” she explains. “We found a way to fill the space very quickly.”

“The great thing about Victorians like this is that they take on a lot of different styles,” says Hall.

“You get a mid-century modern house and it feels like you have to put mid-century furniture in there. With Victorian, you can get away with many different styles.

The family found uses for the multitude of rooms. Downstairs is a formal living room, playroom for Cecily, family room, formal dining room, kitchen, and guest bedroom. Upstairs, in addition to the family rooms, Villeggiante and Hall each have a home office. Villeggiante opted for a mid-century modern look with abstract wallpaper, sleek Scandinavian furniture and a restored stereo console. Hall chose a mod British urban loft look with a vintage WWII teapot lamp and flag.
Now that much of the restoration work is complete, the family can relax and simply enjoy the space. “Usually there is something cooking or being prepared all day that we work on for dinner. We both like to cook, so he often smokes something, and I like to bake sourdough bread or pizza,” says Hall.

“And we actually use the dining room every night.”

A small dining room, above, started with a mid-century table and chairs. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)
Collections of ceramics and plants form carefully curated exhibits. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)

Weekend days revolve around the garden: feeding the birds, collecting eggs from the hens and peeking into the palm tree out front, where a barn owl – which Cecily named Owl-bus Dumbledore – nests . At this time of year, the garden is filled with tulips and daffodils that they planted as a family.

Cecily creates mud projects in her outdoor play kitchen while Hall works nearby. “She’s going to hang out with me while I garden all day,” Hall said. “Everything gets a little overgrown and wild with all the bulbs in bloom, but I love it. I don’t like it when things are too manicured.

The couple see themselves staying home long-term, bonding with neighbors and fellow parents. “We’ve met a lot of people who are creatively similar to us, and it seems like so many people we’ve met here have kids our own age,” Hall says. “I don’t really know what it is specifically, but it’s special here. We feel like at home.

The Hall family in front of their house. (Eileen Roche/for Sonoma Magazine)

What’s it like renting out your house for photo shoots?

Freelance stylist and art director Caroline Hall once worked as a photography director for a major housewares company, working with location companies to find interesting homes for product photo shoots. “That was my job – looking at the pitches and booking them. I thought at first I would book this house,” she says.

Renting out your home for a photo shoot or filming can mean $1,500 to $5,000 a day of extra income. Crews take over the house for the day, forcing the owner to find another place to stay while filming.

What do scouts look for when booking a home? It’s not just architecture or design.

It’s also a nice light and plenty of room for the cameramen to move around. There is also the issue of ease of access and convenient parking. It’s nice to have neighbors on board who won’t complain about short-term disruptions. And access to gardens and outdoor space is helpful. “It’s great, especially if they’re doing stuff outside, to have a nice yard to shoot in.” Interestingly, the decor of a home is usually not as important; most crews bring their own stuff, says Hall.

Hall lists his Victorian Petaluma with two area businesses: Scout Napa Valley and Mint Locations in Marin.

To find out more, see carolineavhall.com.

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