Lilac Guest House, Portsmouth, NH

If you follow me on Instagram then you know that for months I’ve been working on decorating an Airbnb in Portsmouth, NH. This is literally a dream job for me. Now — before you get too excited, remember that this is a decorating job in the real world, not in Hollywood. We had very real budget constraints. And that is why (I think) I was contacted. The owner wanted to reuse, upcycle, and restore as much as possible. Partly to save money and partly for the charm of vintage and upcycled things.

Below are the before photos. The house was built in 1910-ish. The previous owners were Betty and Joe. Back in the day, Joe worked at the Shipyard and Betty was the Little Harbour School librarian. Betty loved pinks and purple. The history of the house influenced our design plan. We wanted it to feel comfortable — like you are visiting family.

BEFORE PHOTOS

The design plan I pitched for the house was Olde New England meets Midcentury Modern with pops of color and upcycled pieces.

FOYER
Below is a view of the foyer from the living room. I wanted it to be colorful and welcoming. The room is a good size so I’d like it to double as a play room. Parents can be in the living room and easily watch kids playing in the foyer. We plan to put baskets of toys under the daybed. The daybed is made of two church benches that I got on Craigslist for $25 a piece. I locked the benches together with hook-and-eye latches. I sewed the cushion myself using toile fabric. The striped pillows are one of the many items the owner already had. I got the octagon table on Craigslist for like $20 and painted it green. I’m obsessed with green lately. The round rug is one of the many high points of this project that resulted from the owner and I putting our heads together. I wanted a round rug but couldn’t find one that I liked or could afford. She wanted something easy to clean. She ended up ordering a 6-foot round industrial felt rug from Route One Carpet & Decorating — for $64!  It’s soft, easy to clean, and more fun than a traditional rug.

Airbnb-Foyer
Lilac House Foyer, Portsmouth, NH

LIVING ROOM
Throughout the house, it was our goal to work with neutrals like gray, white, black, and natural wood and then use pop colors and patterns to make everything feel more fun.

LIVING-ROOM-WIDE
Lilac House Living Room, Portsmouth, NH

The owner wanted a pull-out couch so we went with the most comfortable gray couch option at Crate & Barrel in Kittery, Maine. The mustard chairs are from Etsy. We thought it was a good idea to have vinyl chairs because they would be easy to clean. Flor had a big sale at the time that we started this project. We took advantage of that and bought these checkerboard carpet squares. The art shelves feature collected art by the owner. The coffee table is from Weekender House.

 

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Lilac House Living Room, Portsmouth, NH

 

DINING ROOM
The owner wanted a big dining room table with room for everyone. I think the table can easily seat 8 people, or 10 if you squished in a couple more chairs.

VIEW-OF-DINING-ROOM
Lilac House Dining Room, Portsmouth, NH

 

KITCHEN
The breakfast nook in the kitchen is the perfect spot to drink coffee and plan your day. The table is one of my favorite scores of this project. It was $7 on Craigslist. It is a restaurant quality table, very study. The four bentwood Thonet chairs were also from Craigslist. They cost $95 for all four. The stainless steel prep table, purchased on Amazon, offers a nice clean work surface.

Airbnb-Kitchen
Lilac House Airbnb Breakfast Nook, Portsmouth, NH

 

CURTAINS
I sewed the majority of the curtains throughout the house. For the stairway landing, I made curtains using vintage linens. For the bedrooms, I used mattress ticking fabric, and for the dining room, we decided on 3/4 curtains in a crisp white gauzy fabric.

Homemade-Curtains
Vintage Linen Curtains, Lilac House, Portsmouth, NH

 

TWIN BEDROOM 
This tiny bedroom might be my favorite. The hanging drawers and octagon mirror were things the owner already had on hand but was not using. The side table is one of two small tables I purchased from Portland Flea-for-All . The portrait is of the owner’s Aunt Rita. I think this room should be called the Rita Room. Don’t you?

Front-Twin-Bedroom
Lilac House, Portsmouth, NH

 

MASTER BEDROOM
We selected more soothing accent colors for the second floor. We wanted it to feel like a place to relax. We opted to paint a soothing sage green headboard for the master bedroom. We incorporated handmade quilts from the owner’s mom’s collection. The green lamp is from Etsy. The matching nightstands were made locally from salvaged wood by Back Burner Designs in Somersworth, NH.MASTER-BEDROOM-CORNER

The lamp below is a lamp I bought at Savers for $14.99. I think it is a real George Nelson lamp. I’ve had it in a container for years waiting for the right opportunity to use it. The chair below was given to me by a friend. I couldn’t afford to have it reupholstered so instead I worked with Back Burner Designs to build the seat and back using pallet wood. You can see the before picture on my Instagram account. The seat cushion is made from a goose feather pillow the owner already had. I recovered it with new (on sale) fabric. I got the Danish stool on Craigslist for $15. LAMP-CHAIR-STOOL-MASTER-BEDROOM
There is a console table set up in the master bedroom. You can check your email on the computer or watch a movie from bed. The table was made from a metal frame the owner already had. Wood was cut to fit the top. The white bench is something the owner already owned. I recovered the top in the same toile fabric I used on the foyer daybed.

Master-Bedroom-Console-Table

QUEEN BEDROOM
I imagined the room below was for that Aunt who needs time to get away from family for a little bit to just read a book. Once again we opted to paint the headboard. The owner did this herself. Isn’t it adorable? I think of this as the “Aunt Room”.

 

Back-Queen-Bedroom
Lilac House Queen Bedroom, Portsmouth, NH

There is a whole other bedroom with two twin beds that I didn’t feature and many details I haven’t included but that is certainly enough info for one blog post.

The detail I do need to include is that the owners did all the hard work and for some reason picked (lucky) me to work with them on decorating this gem of a house. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

The other detail that I must share is that the BEST thing about this Airbnb rental is the LOCATION. It is literally steps from the Portsmouth Farmer’s Market (hence the cloth shopping bags hanging in the foyer). It is in the loveliest neighborhood on the planet. Is it a nice short walk to downtown Portsmouth. If your family or your gaggle of bridesmaids are looking for a getaway — check out the Lilac Guest House in Portsmouth, NH and tell them JAM sent ya!

UPDATE — the listing is now on VRBO.

xo jam

20th Century Women Style

I just watched the movie 20th Century Women. So good. It’s deeply moving and well acted. I especially appreciate the care that went into the design of the movie. I love the color combinations and how scenes are composed.

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Certain scenes feel inspired by the photographer Stephen Shore. Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 10.37.58 AM

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I noticed all the wall colors, lamps, and fabric choices.
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I love the wardrobe choices for the character played by Greta Gerwig. The character tells us that she decided to color her hair red after seeing the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth. (BTW — we have that DVD at the library)

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A few times throughout the movie they use this 3D coloring effect. It makes it feel so real to the time period. I was 11 years old in 1979. I clearly remember wearing paper 3D glasses as a child and looking at photos that looked like this. Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 10.49.06 AM

The librarian in me appreciates all the references made to books and movies throughout the film. The image below is from a New York magazine article where the filmmaker, Mike Mills, shares seven things that inspired 20th Century Women. Check it out.sisterhood book

Jimmy Carter’s Crisis of Confidence speech plays an important role in the movie. It’s worth a re-listen. I ♥ Jimmy Carter.

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Jimmy Carter’s Full “Crisis of Confidence” Speech (July 15, 1979)

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The movie is set in a time before the internet. People got together and talked face to face. Let’s all resolve to have more dinner parties —  but without the cigarette smoking.

xo jam

New Pant Suit

It’s around this time of year that I write my Spring Style Inspiration blog post. Usually, the long winter has me day dreaming about gauzy linens and modern pale pastels. This year is different. This year, all I can think about are pantsuits.

A few days prior to election day I went secondhand shopping for a pantsuit. I wanted to wear one on election day in solidarity with other progressive women. Unfortunately, everything I found was just. not. me. Following election day there were more important things to worry about than a lack of pantsuit options.

For weeks after the election, I was in a fog. It’s still hard to believe what happened. Fortunately, the fog has started to lift. I want to get on with living, loving, working, and laughing. This next stage calls for a new modern pantsuit. I want to feel comfortable, strong, and stylish. I want my feet firmly planted on the ground. I don’t want anything binding or pinching me.

I live by the mantra “secondhand first” so the first thing I did was return to the thrift stores in search of a vintage suit. I got lucky and found a decent basic black suit from the ’90s with the tags still attached. The suit is at the cleaners now. I am having the pants hemmed short.

BLACK-SUIT-UP

I’ll wear my black suit with oxfords or loafers. I’m eyeing these Bass loafers with crepe soles. I like wearing a loafer with no socks. One less thing to think about.

In addition to my basic black suit, I’d also like a statement suit. Something that is almost too loud for me. Something that forces me to be present. I like seeing creative women strut their stuff in a statement suit.

statement-suits
Jill Soloway, St. Vincent, Annie Lennox, Beyonce

It’s not like me to buy something new but drastic times call for drastic measures. I bought this gingham suit [below] from Banana Republic. I hope it fits! Instead of wearing orange-red high heels like the blogger [below], I’ll wear orange-red lipstick for a pop of color.

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via Art in The Find

It’s good, right!?

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via Honey in My Heels

I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for new pantsuit options for women. Follow my New Pant Suit Pinterest board for updates.

 

new-pant-suit-roundup
Coltrane / Zara Pink Suit / Floral Suit from Top Shop / Beige Suit

 

Keep hope alive!
xo jam

UPDATE: I got the Banana Republic gingham suit in the mail. It is awesome. If you like the look you should check it out. The fit was off for me and so I did return it. If I was in a store I would have tried the next size down (in the jacket). The pants fit me but are mid-rise which just makes me feel like I want to pull up my pants all the time. I have a longish torso so when I wear pants like this my blouse always is coming free and I have to keep tucking it back in. I’d rather just get higher waisted pants. I tweeted Everlane a while back. I bought a pair of pants from them that I really like. I’d love a suit jacket to go with them. In the meantime, I’ll wear my secondhand suit and cross my fingers that Everlane comes out with a blazer for women.

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