Real Homes- New England edition

I want to purpose to show more “real homes” in some future blog posts…homes I have consulted on but not done”full service expensive remodeling or decorating consults” on, just mini consults or “fluffing” here and there…sure these are very nice homes, and they may be anything from historic homes to lived in suburban or 1950s ranch style, whatever the case it does not matter.  All houses and homes have assets and things that can be tweaked and played up or down. My goal is show some non-perfect, non-Pinterest “real life” living and  photography in all of its BEAUTY and NORMALCY. And yes I know “normal” is subjective but let’s remember what real life, lived in homes look like without professional photography and perfect styling..they are still lovely, and this one is really lovely!


Indeed this one is a treat, straight from New England!

The email from the homeowner went like this

       I am interested in design, but I am looking for someone to help me finish my living room, family room, dining room, stairs, etc.  I have most of my furniture, but I need help with pillows, accessories, paint colors, lighting, etc.  I just bought my house three years ago.  It is our forever house, so I am taking my time to decorate it.  It is a sea captain’s house built in 1825, but renovated in around 1910.


Of course she had me at 1825 and Sea Captain’s home! And then she randomly showed me a photo of the kitchen (wish I had it, it was pre the lights and very lived in looking but i could see the beautiful bones beyond the backpacks and shoes…

I helped with pillow fabrics and pulling together the living room etc with a few accessories and coffee table. And a choosing new lights for kitchen. Online consults can be as big or little as needed!


You notice my favorite combo and starting points but evolved into more pattern and blue which was fine!… Ticking stripe for slipcovers, coffee table ideas and of course blue and right and neutral paint, the art is by a local artist Alison Hill, some of the other art in the room is by the family!

Online consults include basic boards but also some “crazy boards” with notes to illustrate and ideas for narrowing in on patterns and colors.  Some honest back and forth saying “you know I don’t love that KW ikat” or “I do!”


When you are working online sometimes choosing fabrics can be a bit of a puzzle but it is possible for sure especially with etsy and the willingness of showrooms and vendors to send samples! And lots of email!


Another real life aspect to these photos, which are simply phone pictures from the client, is they also show REAL LIFE transitions, meaning one picture shows her new rug in place and others show the temporary natural jute rug in place.  Because real life means sometimes you have to move the nice new red rug to the dining room until you find one for that space! It’s a good and reminds me how homes are always evolving and shifting!



And the kitchen oh the kitchen!! Once the homeowner sent me a random phone picture of the kitchen I was REALLY smitten with this home.  The kitchen addition/remodel is exquisite with the beams and floors and now with the new lights!


Look at the floor boards and beams…they did an amazing remodel..all I did was choose the lighting for island which the homeowner then ordered over phone and email with Cindy at True Blue Home.  I love working with True Blue  because they are true blue Visual Comfort retailer, unlike some of the flash sales sites that sell similar lights.   When you order through True Blue Home in Texas you get the full guarantee of Visual Comfort and more personalized customer service if there are any hiccups!  And wow that brass with the beams and look she has mixed finishes..brass lights (gilded iron to be specific) polished nickel on the kitchen hardware and bronze on the stools..and boy does it work!


Sometimes all you need is a few new pillows, a ticking stripe slipcover on an old chair, a rug or lights in kitchen…it is a process and it takes time but when it eventually starts to take shape it is so worth it.  My client’s husband is an artist so she already has some great art and of course the bones of an 1825 house doesn’t hurt!


And the big point is not to compare..her real life kitchen is amazing and her home is full of history but I bet she lacks big bathrooms and closets?! We all have different assets in our homes that we can play up..for some it is a kitchen or a porch or natural light or location.  Embrace the positive and try to downplay the things you love least.


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  1. Love this beautiful home and new series, Holly! So many people come into the shop and are often intimidated or hesitant about reaching out to you. Maybe they don’t want full-blown consulting but just need a boost to get them going or to give them confidence that they’re moving in the right direction. This perfectly illustrates how well an online consultation can work! Please keep these stories coming!

  2. Thank you! I love the honesty of life you openly share. Beautiful!!!

  3. I am so happy that you are going to start doing these posts. I miss the earlier home design and DIY blog posts that were “normal, natural” looking spaces. Thank you Holly!

  4. Holly, I’ve loved every project I’ve seen you share. This one is gorgeous to begin with and your tweaks just add to it. Share more and keep up the amazing spirit. 🙂

  5. Holly, I LOOOVE that red rug! Is it vintage? Is it possible to share the source?
    Love this post.

  6. I LOVE this post! I just commented the other day on another blog about how bloggers/designers need to post more about these kind of redesigns instead of the huge budget/complete reno that is not realistic for many, many people. I love how you shared with us the details you shared with your client & how its not about comparing, but about playing up your home’s strengths! And just today, I received a new sisal rug for my living room, so the old rug went to my husband’s office and his cowhide rug came into my office. Just those switches really freshened up those 3 rooms! That is real life design! Love your style and your perspective, Holly!

  7. Melanie Winter says

    Holly, thank you for featuring a real home! It is beautiful and I love the touches you added! Classic and within reach!
    Could you tell me if the paint color in both the living room and the kitchen is Edgecomb? Did she use Revere Pewter at all?
    By the way, love your blog!!

  8. Alison Connors says

    Love these posts, Holly! I too miss the earlier home design and DIY posts. Look forward to seeing more of these! Thank you!!!

  9. you are amazingly talented. Thank you for sharing. I love this type of post.

  10. Holly,
    What a lovely home. The history would be a bonus. I used to support a local high school with the house tour fundraiser each autumn. The homes that were always top on the list for me were real-life homes. Touches of the personality of the family makes a home. I know I will love this series. Great job!

  11. Leigh Rhyne says

    Absolutely beautiful Holly! This has inspired me to finish my family room by the end of the year. (Hopefully.) I’ve been working on styling my new built-ins. 12’x10′ requires a lot of thifted books. Looking forward to more of this series!
    Leigh R.

  12. Holly, what a grea post! I’m so happy you’re going to be featuring more “real life homes”, this is so helpful and fun! This house is gorgeous and I love your suggestions.

  13. I love this post, Holly! I consulted with you 3 years ago, and I love the plan you worked on for my family room. Soon after I was diagnosed with brain cancer and I have not been able to complete the design yet. I love the fact that the plan you worked up for me is something I can work on gradually. It is a “Cindy” plan and not something that looks like a pinterest room. Your designs are incredible! You are so talented, and are an inspiration to many! I also love how you share your faith, but yet are so transparent about your life. You’ve blessed me through the years sweet Holly. Seems like I know you. 🙂

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