Jill & Charlie’s Collected, Historic New England Style in Cambridge

Jill & Charlie’s Collected, Historic New England Style in Cambridge

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Emily Billings
Apr 1, 2016
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Charlie and Jill Bent and their two children
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Size: 1,800 square feet
Years lived in: 13 years; Owned

Jill and Charlie Bent live with their two teenaged children in an 1899 Victorian house on a sleepy street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their home is a labor of love, thanks to high-impact renovations paired with carefully collected furnishings—from family heirlooms to found pieces and vintage textiles that have been transformed by Jill. Thanks to her critical designer's eye, the house has become a comfortable family home, inspired by New England country antique furniture and reflective of the couple's pared-down vintage style.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

The couple purchased the Victorian over a decade ago from the original owner’s family, whom their street happens to be named after! It was apparent that the 1899 three-story house was in need of major renovations, having not seen a face-lift since the 1950s. Tackling the project with two young children was an ambitious undertaking but one Jill and Charlie embraced. “It had great Victorian charm, but was dark and dreary and in need of a lot of repair. We stripped wallpaper, plastered walls, and painted everything ourselves at night after we put the kids to bed,” Jill shares.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Five years after the initial cosmetic renovations were completed, the couple decided to hire a contractor to solve the structural problems they had discovered in their 1920s kitchen and to remodel it in a way that felt appropriate to the home’s New England aesthetic ancestry. As their children grow and their needs expand, Jill and Charlie have continued renovations down to the basement level. Most recently, the couple installed a much-needed second bath and renovated laundry room that allows the home to function even better for this family of four.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

The formerly dreary house is kept light and bright with white walls and trim that allow the family’s heirlooms to stand out. Coming from talented family lineages of craftsmen and artists, Jill and Charlie have filled their home with tasteful antique furnishings full of stories and memories from previous generations. Jill enjoys pairing the inherited pieces of the home with a collection of vintage homewares she sources throughout New England and sells in her own online shop, Jill Bent Handmade & Vintage. Since they live in a home that is over one hundred years old and only onto its second family, it feels fitting for the Bents to honor their heirlooms and maintain the integrity of this historical home with their own stories and objects that have been passed down through the generations.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We love a mix of pared-down antique and vintage style. Light and bright walls and woodwork highlight our antique furniture, colorful textiles, and vintage art work. We've been lucky to inherit some great furniture from our families and have mixed them with flea market finds and few new sofas and chairs.

Inspiration: New England country antique furniture. Simple Scandinavian interiors. Mixing old and new. Vintage textiles and artwork. Travel!

Favorite Element: My father is a cabinet maker who specializes in antique furniture restoration, and over the years he and I have designed and built cupboards, tables, and armoires out of reclaimed wood and antique furniture parts. We work together on the design and my dad does the cabinet work. Every room has a piece of furniture has has built or restored. You can find more about his work here.

Biggest Challenge: Restoring our house by ourselves when our kids were little. Our house was built in 1899, and we are only the second family to live in it. When we bought it, nothing has been done to the interior since the 1950s. It had a great Victorian charm, but was dark and dreary and in need of a lot of repair. We stripped wallpaper, plastered walls, and painted everything ourselves at night after we put the kids to bed.

What Friends Say: Wow! There's no clutter. Are you always so neat? Answer: Yes. I love de-cluttering! And despite the fact that I love, collect, and sell vintage stuff, I'm really a minimalist at heart.

Biggest Embarrassment: The holes in the old horsehair plaster walls as the result of having active kids... mostly we patch them up or hang a picture over them until we can get around to repairing them. Or sometimes we just manage to overlook them.

Proudest DIY: Stripping the 1950s wallpaper out of every room in the house and re-plastering and painting it all ourselves.

Biggest Indulgence: Our kitchen. When we moved in the kitchen hadn't been updated since 1920. It was sort of charming, but very old, with a lot of structural problems (freezing cold in winter, leaking ceilings, and an ant infestation every spring). After living with it for 5 years, we hired a contractor to renovate it. We cook almost all of our meals at home, so having a kitchen we love spending time in has been worth the investment.

Best Advice: Antique and vintage furniture is often better made and less expensive than the new stuff. Frequent flea markets, antique shops, and your local thrift stores. You'll be amazed at what you find!

Dream Sources: Flea markets and antique stores all over New England. Todd Farm Flea Market in Rowley, MA, is a favorite. For vintage housewares, Etsy is amazing.

Resources

PAINTS & COLORS

  • Walls: Benjamin Moore White
  • Trim: Benjamin Moore Linen White
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

ENTRY

  • Black antique table: flea market
  • Small cherry table: flea market
  • Rug: Little River Rugs
  • Antique gold mirror: Bowerbird Antiques
  • Small antique wooden mirror: from Charlie's great-grandparents' home
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa: Crate & Barrel
  • Sofa slipcovers: DIY by Jill using vintage grain sacks
  • Armchair: Crate & Barrel
  • Sisal rug: Crate & Barrel
  • Floor lamps: Crate & Barrel
  • Striped wool Peurvian rug: Pod
  • Antique tray: painted by Jill's great-grandmother
  • Coffee table: hand-me-down from Jill's aunt, painted white
  • Gas stove: Hampton Stove Company
  • Kilim pillows: Istanbul
  • Vintage wool blanket pillows: Jill Bent
  • White grain sack pillows: Jill Bent
  • Built-in TV cupboard: built by Jill's dad
  • Antique drop leaf table: flea market
  • Antique wooden mirror: flea market
  • Stained glass window: original to the house
  • Chandelier: original to the house
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

DINING ROOM

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

KITCHEN

  • Wooden cupboard: designed by Jill, built out of antique wood and furniture parts by her father, William Triplett
  • Wooden butcher block table: designed by Jill, built out of antique wood and furniture parts by her father, William Triplett
  • Ironstone china and stoneware pottery: flea market finds collected over the years—Jill sells similar pieces on her vintage homewares shop.
  • Wooden pig cutting board: Dana Southworth
  • Dishtowels and aprons: Fog Linen
  • Baskets: flea market finds available on Jill's Etsy shop
  • Pear oil painting: by Jill's grandmother
  • Seasonal Fruits of California print: Claire Nereim
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

BEDROOM

  • Bed: antique, restored by Jill's father, William Triplett
  • Chest of drawers: made by Jill's father, William Triplett, for the couple as a wedding present
  • Small chest of drawers/bedside table: made by Jill's father, William Triplett
  • Chair: thrift store, with custom-made slipcover
  • Wall sconces: Schoolhouse Electric
  • Antique gold mirror: from Jill's grandparents
  • Rug: antique store in Cambridge
  • Bedding: Garnet Hill
  • Curtains: made by Jill from antique linen they inherited from Charlie's great-grandmother
  • Vintage Kantha pillows: made by Jill, also available on her Etsy shop

DAUGHTER'S BEDROOM

  • Chest of drawers: restored by Jill's father, William Triplett
  • Scandinavian prints: collected by Jill
  • Mirror: from Jill's childhood
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

STUDIO/GUEST BEDROOM

  • Bed: bought at an auction
  • Work table: from Jill's parents—it was their original kitchen table when she was little.
  • Painted blanket chest: antique inherited from Jill's grandparents, painted by Jill's great-grandmother, Mary Headley
  • Chairs: flea market
  • Baker's shelf: curb find from Cambridge

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Thanks, Jill & Charlie!

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