Welcome to a very special home tour today – one that I’m super excited to share with you! Get ready to step inside Fifi O’Neill’s Florida cottage, home of the popular and accomplished international style editor, author, creative director, and photo stylist. Let me just say that I was truly honored when Fifi asked me to feature her beautiful home! I’ve been following and admiring her style for years. So without further ado, enjoy touring Fifi’s home with a heart and read a bit of her story at the end of the post.
Photos by Mark Lohman | Styling by Fifi O’Neill
To make her Florida cottage entrance appealing, Fifi spiffed it up with stone pavers and a fresh coat of sky-blue trim. Enamelware pitchers, pots, and painted benches tie the color scheme together. Boots are one of Fifi’s trademarks, not only to wear but also to use as decor. In her travels, she has picked up 36 pairs—and counting.
Though acquired on various trips – an old pail, a rusty heart and a candelabra seem made for each other and add to the appeal of her front entrance and patio.
Fifi fluffed up her sofa with an eiderdown duvet picked up in her travels and scattered with still more needlepoint pillows made by her sister. The farmhouse table is painted with pink metallic-finish paint, Ralph Lauren “Fairy Circle.” A faux zebra rug underfoot is a playful touch and keeps the room from being too sweet.
When she was in a “pink mood,” Fifi transformed an old bookcase with paint. On display are books in the same color family.
Found antlers play up the prairie vibe in Fifi’s Florida cottage. The galvanized pot easily transitions from indoors to out with contents that change with the seasons.
For most of the year, the last thing that Fifi–or anyone who lives in Florida—needs is a roaring fire. But who doesn’t love the coziness of the hearth? “I always wanted one,” says Fifi, “So I decided to make my own.”
Only pieces that truly resonate for Fifi earn a spot in her home. A dear friend did the painting to the left of the mantel. The portrait on the right is by Cindy Redman a contemporary artist whose work has a timeless quality. The horseshoe is by Leslie Hilton. The sheep pillow was a gift from Counting Sheep Antiques, a shop in MA.
To get the look, Fifi added architectural fragments to a salvaged mantel surround and painted the mirror. Finishing touches include heart-shaped candlesticks from a French flea market. Wall paint, Annie Sloan, “Antoinette.”
Fifi lined the back with and old sheet of copper and added birch logs bundled with rope to add a natural feel. I’m making a note to myself to add candles and birch logs like this to my own mantel. See? Fifi is always an inspiration!
For a farmhouse aura, Fifi added bead board to her dining room walls and ceiling. The high-backed cane chair is an antiques shop find, but the spindle chair came from a long-ago photo shoot and was previously painted in bright carnival colors. Table paint, Amy Howard at Home, “Paige Blue.” Wall Paint, Sherwin Williams, “Aviary Blue.” Chicken plates from Anthropologie were a gift.
The glass doors of the original cabinets are tacked with lacy panels for a feminine look that also hides clutter. Painted a metallic blue, a kitchen chair becomes an eye-catching focal point. The farmhouse table was a find from Posh (poshonpalm.com), a favorite shop in Venice, FL, but the lampshade is from IKEA. Rose-themed glasses echo the lace-lined cabinets.
A collection of whisper-pale pink and blue colanders reinforces the cottage’s airy palette. In the window, tea towels are clipped onto a curtain rod. “I don’t sew!” Fifi admits. “But I’m very good at tacking things on, using a glue gun, and fabric glue.” Fifi found the little cowboy boots while browsing in an airport gift shop. You just never know!
In the master bedroom, Minou the Maine Coon cat gets comfy on an eiderdown duvet by Sweet Salvage, one of Fifi’s favorite haunts in Phoenix, Arizona. Fifi has repainted the bed frame several times to suit her moods.
On the window wall, a watercolor portrait of Fifi herself by Florida artist Pat Underwood captures her sunny disposition.
A beautiful mother-and-baby sheep painting by Illinois artist Rebecca Ersfeld evokes farm life.
One day while browsing in Habitat for Humanity, Fifi came across the arched window that now presides over her bath. The claw foot tub is a rescued and refinished old cast-iron piece. She scored the tiered towel holder on a curb while on a shoot in California and shipped it back home. A found cabinet was transformed with paint and a delicate lace remnant.
A found cabinet was transformed with paint and a delicate lace remnant.
In the words of Fifi, “Every time I come home from a trip, I fall in love with my little house all over again.” I would feel the same way if I lived in her charming Florida cottage! And now that you’ve enjoyed her home, you can read a little more about Fifi’s story:
Most of the time, you’ll find Fifi zigzagging across the continent, visiting people’s homes to do her magic as a stylist for photo shoots. But even though this best-selling international author, and founding editor of Prairie Style magazine loves the fast pace and excitement of travel, there is truly nothing she enjoys more than finally returning to her own vintage Florida cottage.
“I’m really a homebody at heart,” says Fifi, who was born in Paris, France, but spent a great deal of her childhood in the lavender fields of the French countryside. Early in her career, she moved to Canada, where she raised her children in Manitoba surrounded by an enchanting rural patchwork of fields, ranches and farms. She attributes her particular viewpoint for much of her trademark Prairie Style to having fallen for a variety of enchanting prairie regions across Europe, Canada and America.
Today, though her garden grows tropical bougainvillea and angel trumpet vine, the call of the tall prairie grasses and wildflowers remains with her. And that is the inspiration for her home. “I always think ‘prairie,’” Fifi says. “It’s more than a place. It’s a way of life, a mindset that’s all about simplicity and grace. It’s also a homey, comforting style that is not about spending money.”
In fact, when Fifi is styling a home, she is known for rummaging through people’s closets, garages, basements, and cupboards for items that they might have overlooked in decorating. “You’d be surprised by how often people already have what they need in their house and they just don’t see it,” she says. “You have to approach things with fresh eyes. Maybe all you need to do is repaint a piece to make it beautiful.”
Fifi’s frequent absences actually help her to see her home afresh. So it’s not unusual for her to come home from a trip and, before she even has a chance to unpack her bags, she’s dipping into some new project, usually involving a can of paint.
Oftentimes, some small item she picked up on the road will set off a complete decorating overhaul. “I’ll get inspired by a new blanket or duvet cover. I was on a shoot in Phoenix and I came across some old-fashioned eiderdowns that made me change my bedroom and living room around.”
Not everything has to be old, of course. One of Fifi’s favorite tricks is finding new items in retail stores and mixing them in with vintage for contrast. What you won’t find in Fifi’s home are fancy antiques or fussy touches. “Homemade pieces that show their age and sentimental items like paintings done by friends are a big part of my home. Everything I own seems to have its own nice story.”‘
Thank you, Fifi, for sharing your beautiful heart and home with us!!