The only thing standard about Hillary and Burgin Kent’s home is their standard poodle, Camee, who rules the roost. “My house is all about my poodle,” Hillary laughs as she points out her poodle-themed towel and the abstract painting of her and Camee hanging in the kitchen. No one can leave Hillary’s home without noticing at least three things: vibrant artwork, treasured antiques, and a sweet poodle.
Hillary has had the good fortune of having a wealth of beautiful antiques handed down to her from Burgin’s family. Many people mix family heirlooms with contemporary pieces of their choosing, but even much of the Kents’ modern art comes from family members.
Burgin’s cousin, Kent Walsh, who studied art in San Francisco, created the abstract artwork featured in the den, kitchen, and above the mantel. The late Betty Kent, Burgin’s mother, painted the bold pieces featured in the living room and dining room. “She was very influential in helping me with my house because all of her work is very contemporary,” Hillary says of her mother-in-law. “She had a real eye for color and design.”
Previous generations of Burgin’s family also had an eye for design, which can be seen in the stunning pieces that now fill Hillary’s home. The family had an antebellum estate called Mount Ida that was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in the 1950s. Luckily, many of the Empire antiques were saved from the property.
A gold-striped silk, rolled-arm Empire sofa that once sat in the entrance hall of her Burgin’s grandmother’s home now greets guests in Hillary’s entryway. An Empire secretary sits gracefully among the bright surroundings in the living room, and an eye-catching Empire bed from the 1830s now steals the show in the master bedroom. It was a wedding gift from Burgin’s grandparents and is just one of the many sentimental pieces that Hillary says she feels so grateful to have acquired.
What first attracted Hillary to the home 19 years ago, before she feathered it with her eclectic style, was the private screened-in porch. The tops of trees and a creek below have set the stage for many meals enjoyed on the porch and on the deck that the Kents built.
The kitchen of the 1960s cottage was gutted upon the Kents moving in, and nearly 20 years later they have renovated it once again. The sleek kitchen now features crisp white cabinets, sleek countertops, and a subway-tile backsplash for a seamless blend with the cottage’s contemporary décor.
Instead of out with the old and in with the new, Hillary has designed her home so that the old and new pieces enhance each other. “If you walked into a room that’s nothing but antiques, I think you’d look around and say, ‘Oh, what beautiful antiques,’ but I don’t think it would have the same kind of affect as going from room to room and seeing something that pops out that’s really interesting and blends with things that you’ve been given, and I’m really grateful for that.”