Open House

An Elmhurst bungalow is filled with light and a welcoming vibe


When Rick Leon came across a bungalow with a “For Sale” sign on the lawn in the Elmhurst section of Providence, he couldn’t help but stop and take a look. Turns out, someone was inside painting and let him wander around. Rick knew in an instant that his wife Magda would like both the home and the area, and she did. “I love the neighborhood. It’s quiet and safe for my children to play and ride their bikes,” Magda begins. “And, for the house itself, I love how open it is, and that it has high ceilings and big windows.”

Magda, a busy mom of four and print-making student at Rhode Island College, has outfitted the home with a seamless fusion of styles including reminders of her native Guatemala, resulting in a look that works for her family and guests as Airbnb “Superhosts”. In the large chef’s kitchen, you’ll find typical farmhouse trappings like beadboard on lower walls and a double apron sink, but the open shelving displays a collection of functional Mayan pottery, 15 years in the making.

Typical to most bungalow-style homes, the main living spaces are a series of open rooms. To maintain a sense of flow, walls are painted a pale gray and accented with white moldings and trim. The bank of windows in the middle room is flanked with white panels to invite as much sunlight as possible. Funky metallic light fixtures and wall art draw the eye across, while richly patterned textiles add interest and warmth.

“I add color in bedding, pillows, and pieces I can easily get rid of once I become bored of them. This way, I’m not committed and free to change the mood throughout the year,” explains Magda. “I don’t have a particular decorating style, but you will find a lot of my heritage throughout the house.” While not a big shopper, Magda notes that she has to love something to buy it, but it can be from anywhere, be it Guatemalan markets to flea markets to Walmart.

What’s most important to Magda is for a home to be personal. “Be you, follow what you like, don’t try to follow the trends. Try to make your home welcoming, make it feel lived in, not like a museum.”