A home is more than just a lot of land we occupy. It is A place to offer security. A place to awaken the senses and inspire. it is something we all seek out. And, regardless of income, it is something we can all create: a place to call our own. Our daily Getaway.
Photography by Monica Winters
I’ve always had a thing for Spanish casitas. Maybe it’s my personal Spanish heritage coming to the surface or my aesthetic draw to bright, colorful, terracotta tiles, but I’ve been swooned by the architectural style my whole life.
Historic Spanish homes are few and far between, hidden amongst the shadows of oak trees in our Southern town. Frederick Trimble, a prominent American architect in the early 1900s, is credited for pioneering the Spanish Colonial Revival style in Central Florida. With the rich history of Spanish influence in Florida, Trimble wanted to create an architectural design that incorporated that stylistic history with a functional Florida-style home — la casita.
Seen as gems amongst the ever-popular Craftsman bungalows, if you have the opportunity to own one of the few Lakeland Spanish casitas, you should consider yourself blessed.
I had the opportunity to sell Andy and Haley Osborn their Spanish casita in 2015 and have always admired their home. With its flat roof line and stuccoed exterior, this home screams bungalow characteristics, charming features, and Central Florida history. I sat down with my friends two years later to chat about how they’ve put their own mark on making this historic charmer their home.
Paige Wagner: What first drew you to this home?
Haley: When I stop and think about our home being almost 100 years old, I think about how many families have called this place home before us. There are not only our memories that are made in this home, but memories before us and memories after us. It’s truly special playing a small part in Lakeland history by owning this home.
PW: Having lived in the home, what is your favorite part about it?
Andy: Not the office, because who ever uses the home office?! I love my kitchen built-in bar, because I built it myself and that’s pretty cool.
Haley: All the natural light! People think it’s creepy that we have very limited window treatments because the norm is to always close up your house, but we love exposing the 150+ original window panes this home still holds and allowing it to breathe.
PW: What is the most charming feature of the home?
Haley: The thick stucco walls. When people come over for the first time, they always tell us that our walls look like “icing on a birthday cake,” and I always joke that that’s exactly what we were going for!
Andy: For me it’s the original hardwood floors. I appreciate that these are the same floors that were laid when the home was built, and that so many people have walked on them adds a deep history to the home.
PW: With the house being just shy of 1,200 square feet, does it ever seem too small? Or does the character and richness of the home make up for it?
Andy: The house is proportioned really well. With only having six rooms, each room is allocated a healthy portion of space. The home only feels small when you visit a friend’s house on the south side of town and you’re reminded that 1,800 square feet is the new normal. So my advice is stay amongst the historic districts and you’ll think your house is huge!
Haley: When you understand why the home is small and proportioned different from what we think is normal, you appreciate it more. When we purchased the home, [Paige] explained to us that the closets are small not because people didn’t have a lot of clothes in the 1920s, but that homeowners were taxed on closet size. So they built smaller closets to keep taxes low but then would have large wardrobes to store their clothes. I now don’t despise my small closets because I understand the history in its purpose.
PW: Do you feel a part of the history of this home? If so, how are you leaving your mark?
Haley: We want to preserve the historic 1920s’ features while also stripping the home of the decades of decor that do not blend with the original style. We felt our calling was to remove all 1970s’ residue from our kitchen. We painted all the brown paneling floor to ceiling and brightened up the space, making it feel airy and light again like it would have been in the 1920s.
Andy: The exterior paint started chipping on our back door, and you can see layers of paint from years past. We love that we can leave our mark by being another layer of paint added to the history of this home. Even if it’s small changes like paint or adding a breakfast bar, it’s our piece of legacy we get to add to the history book of the home.
Aside from the casita’s beautiful hardwood floors that flow throughout the home and the large original windows that allow natural light into the space, the interior design of this home significantly adds to the charm and feel of the space. Distinguished designer John Saladino writes, “A house is much more than a shelter, it should lift us emotionally and spiritually.”
When I walked into Andy and Haley’s home, I felt a sense of individuality. In the same way that their Spanish casita is one-of-a-kind, I “felt” one-of-a-kind in the home. There is not one ounce of cookie-cutter stigma to this Spanish casita, including the people in it. Everyone holds a uniqueness and design that is unmatched, including the 93-year-old brick and mortar that truly lifts this feeling of individuality.
A huge attribute to the emotional and spiritual feeling of this home is the interior design. The Osborns have done a flawless job maximizing the use of smaller space while adding a modern flair to the home’s historic accents.
PW: What is the vision of your interior design?
Haley: We like the mid-century modern feel with the straighter lines and tapered furniture legs. The more streamline the furniture, the less space it takes up in our home. If you go around the house, there are different pieces and decor from all around the world. This platter dish on our dining room table is from Egypt, and our rug in the living room is from Morocco. I travel a bit more than Andy for work, but he brought a candle back from Key West, and it’s the best candle ever! We love adding a part of our life story to the design of the home.
Andy: We also prefer repurposing furniture or buying local as much as possible. We love local artist Juliet Lapham’s Lakeland prints and have them scattered around the home, and we also have a few locally crafted pillows from Rane Made.
Owning a house and making it your own can be intimidating with a brand-new home let alone a 93-year-old historic home with its original wood frame and heavy stucco-clad walls. Andy and Haley jumped feet first into the historic home experience, making their first home this Spanish casita with all its charm and challenges.
PW: How did you come across your furnishings?
Haley: We are suckers for West Elm furniture and love their take on modern design. Like most people though, we can’t always afford all West Elm furniture, so our house is an honest mix of 40 percent West Elm and 60 percent Target (West Elm copy cat)!
PW: If your house could speak, what would it say?
Andy: Well, I’m not sure what the Spanish translation would be … I think of a house as protection and safety, but this house is also fun, so I think our house would be the “Cool Dad.” I really do see our home as a part of our family. Homes are human in a way because as they get old, they wear like people. The beauty of a home, especially a historic home, is that as you age with them, they age with you. As you care for them, they care for you.
Haley: I think the house said, “Thanks for painting me; I really needed it!”
PW: What advice would you give someone thinking about living in a historic home, or specifically a Spanish casita?
Haley: DO IT. One of my favorite things about living in our historic home is no one’s house looks like mine. I love explaining my house as the “bright pink Spanish house half way down the street. Not everyone can describe their home like that.
Andy: I think I like newer-construction homes more then historic homes (Haley sucked me into this). But as I’ve realized through the process of living here, it is a special thing to be part of something you are constantly learning about. I consider myself a lifelong learner, and this home keeps me learning and growing as a person and a homeowner.