While a young Czech girl spent her summers at a family cottage built by her great-grandfather in the country outside of Prague, playing hide and seek with her great-grand mum and eating cherries right off the tree, halfway around the globe a young Florida boy, immersed in the world of NASA, was developing a lifelong love of space travel. Three decades later, Daniela and Damon’s disparate pasts come together in a home filled with collections of sentimental objects that keep their individual histories very much a part of their everyday lives.
An extensive collection of Czech art and meaningful objects from Daniela’s past keep her connected to her family and transport her back to precious moments from her childhood. The original lock and key set from her beloved family cottage hangs amongst a grouping of metal items carefully displayed on the wall below their staircase. Her grandmother’s bundt pans decorate the kitchen walls. “Looking at the bundt pans that my grandma used,” she says, “brings back that smell of fresh-baked bundt cake and my grandfather’s aftershave; such distinct smells just flood in.”
Drawings of astronauts and rockets, autographed by the likes of Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn, and an entire wall display of photos and images related to space tell of Damon’s connection to NASA. Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and step-father, who have all worked on space-related projects, Damon spent two years working at the Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Hall of Fame, where he was able to meet many of the astronauts he grew up admiring.
Today Daniela, a sailing event coordinator at a yacht club, and Damon, a sailmaker, are creating a new history of their own in the City-by-the-Sea. Unique nautical touches – curtains made by Damon with sailcloth and a powder room they wallpapered together in nautical charts and outfitted with a porthole mirror – speak of the their shared industry and love of the ocean. Their joint love of antiques and salvaged materials, coupled with impressive DIY skills, makes for a home filled with one-of-a-kind pieces. The talented duo have either built, refinished, or repurposed much of their furniture. Their dining room table top is an old barn door, painted and distressed by Daniela and resting on legs and a frame built by Damon. Oak planks, left behind by a previous owner, are now radiator covers, a wine rack and bookshelves. An antique post office sorting unit is now shoe storage in their mud room.
Although their home is filled with numerous collections, everything seems to have a place. Daniela’s milk glass collection is housed in a china cabinet they lovingly transformed from a Pepto-Bismol pink to a soft yellow and lined with blue toile. A built-in wall unit in the living room, custom-made by Damon, holds books, photographs, small artworks and ceramic statues made by a friend of Daniela’s grandfather.
Now Daniela and Damon have created a new world of their own, imbued with the spirit of their ancestors, to raise their daughter Sidonie. An oil painting Daniela always cherished, gifted to her and her new daughter by her grandfather when Sidonie was born, ensures that the past will live on into the future. Daniela’s deceased grandmother, painted in a striking pin-up style in the 1940‘s, stares out from a canvas on the Burton living room wall. “In all the photographs we took when I was younger at my grandparents’ house, that painting was always in the background. It’s wonderful that it is now in the background of our family photographs.”
You can see more of Damon and Daniela's home and read about their style and inspiration on Apartment Therapy.
Photos and text by Jacqueline Marque