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.

 

AIRBNB-Living-Room-Corner
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!

xo jam

Skowhegan Quality Goods

I recently visited Skowhegan Quality Goods in downtown Portsmouth. Have you been? This is the couple that owns the place; Katie and Todd. Cute, right.

skowhegan couple
This photo is from their Instagram page.

skowhegan1The place is chock-full of stuff. If you visit, take your time and ask about the products. Many of the items have a good story behind them.

skowhegan2They have novelty socks which I’m kinda obsessed with right now.

Skowhegan4They carry beauty products. I bought a charcoal cleansing sponge.

Skowhegan5

skowhegan7They’ve got some good old fashioned toys for kids.

skowhegan6My favorite products in the store are the cleaning products. Not sexy, I know. They carry The Simply Co. detergent, dry mops and dusters by Sladust (not pictured), and Bog Berry dryer balls.

Skowhegan3

Good solid stuff. You should check them out.

xo jam

Sustainable Style Gift Giving

reduce-reuse-recycle1More every day I hear people who care about sustainability stressing that “reduce” is the “R” that needs the most focus. We need to reduce our consumption. The holidays is the time of year when consumption is bananas. I am going to give you permission to buy far fewer gifts of far better quality. The answer is Kickstarter.

kickstarter-logo-k-color Kickstarter attracts independent makers. If a product doesn’t attract buyers, then the project isn’t funded. Also, some of the things on Kickstarter aren’t things. You can support a local musical group make their first album and give the perks to your friend that loves music. Just go to Kickstarter and type in your home state and see what you find.

After a quick search, I found a successfully funded book project in Maine called Knitting Maine. The book includes:

KnittingMaine_1024x1024“four brand new, mostly seamless sweater patterns, and a worsted-weight, drop-stitch shawl—all knit using yarns from Maine-based farms or yarn companies with eco-conscious practices.  It includes “a review of each farm/company, detailing the processes that their fiber goes through, and how those processes help sustain our earth.”

This book would be such a great gift for your friend who loves to knit. It also supports local designers, farmers, and makers, and builds community. To learn more about the author click here.

Sign up for the Kickstarter newsletter. Each week you’ll receive an email with projects that are handpicked by the staff, plus projects that are growing in popularity. If you want to use Kickstarter as a place to find inspiration for holiday gift giving then you’ll want to start browsing early in the year so that you can support a project and potentially have a gift to give when the holidays roll around. Below are three projects that I supported and gave as gifts during the holidays.

I got the Exploding Kittens card game set for my 12-year-old son. It comes in a sturdy well-designed box that, when opened, meows like a kitten. It still startles me every time I open it.

I got the NeoLucida for my 15-year-old son (last year). Very cool geek gift. We’ve had fun playing with this as a family.

I got a set of Things Could Be Worse mugs this past Christmas. I supported the project early in the year and received the mugs in the mail a few weeks before Christmas.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.45.39 AM

I gave two mugs to my in-laws (they love them!), one to my brother-in-law, and kept one for myself. I love the humor in this design.

You should also know that Kickstarter has curated pages which allow you to → “Discover projects curated by some of the world’s foremost creative communities.” Here is the RISD curated page. Careful – this page is addictive.

 

xo jam