Katherine and Josh's Northern Comfort With a Southern Sensibility

Katherine and Josh's Northern Comfort With a Southern Sensibility

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Emily Billings
Nov 10, 2015
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Katherine Hysmith and Josh Gantt and their cats, Eleanor and Maxwell
Location: Belmont, Massachusetts
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; Rented

When Katherine Hysmith, The Boston Globe contributor and founder of the food blog The Young Austinian, left her native Texas to pursue a graduate degree in gastronomy from Boston University, she brought her Southern roots with her. Her current home—shared with her husband, Josh Gantt—is a mix of family heirlooms, vintage finds, and a growing collection of cast iron skillets that are older than she is. With a Southern sensibility that blends the clean lines of Donna Hay with the organized clutter of Jane Austen, what more could one knead?

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

The couple’s 1910 home, as Katherine is quick to point out, is not without its fair share of quirks. She says, “A home is built over time. When you’re in your mid-twenties with a young adult budget—like my husband and I—it’s easy to get wrapped up in the look of other people’s perfectly decorated spaces. Filling out your home takes time (and let’s be honest, money) in order to have it just as you’ve always wanted it. I find that my home feels more authentic if I take time to find the perfect piece, incorporating the right finds here and there as we grow older and our tastes develop. So I try not to worry about the remaining IKEA pieces, unsavory hand-me-downs, and things that we can’t replace just yet.” That thoughtful process makes the space feel homey, well-lived-in, and genuine. The couple has prioritized decorating their apartment on a budget—a feat involving equal parts patience, imagination, and taste.

While Katherine's career has kept her busy in the kitchen, she has also been busy laboring away on her most important recipe yet: a bun in the oven! Katherine and Josh’s firstborn is due any day now, and they have created a space that will be soothing to both mother, father and daughter, full of books gifted by loved ones, a neutral palette, and a window-side crib bathed in perfect light to photograph the little one in when she arrives.

As they eagerly await their daughter's debut, the two have fully embraced the autumnal spirit; between the scarf weather, pumpkin-scented air, and nesting preparations, their space is undeniably cozy. Katherine and Josh's ability to make their apartment both unpretentious and comfortable some 2,000 miles away from their hometown is telling. And the cherry on top? Katherine, showing her inner Southern hostess, was quick to indulge me with a glass of freshly-brewed iced tea and a slice of homemade pumpkin pie—a dash of Southern sensibility that goes to show a home is truly what you make of it.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: One part food photographer Donna Hay with clean lines and lots of white; two parts Jane Austen-era knickknacks, stacks of books, and organized clutter; and a dash of Southern sensibility.

Inspiration: Dog-eared Anthropologie catalogs, the Weasley family Burrow, and the great outdoors.

Favorite Element: A combination of wood and metal. The two seem to keep each other in check.

Biggest Challenge: Hanging picture frames level. I’m incredibly impatient and simply refuse to take the time to measure everything out. The walls and floors of our very old rental (built in 1910!) are already so crooked you can’t tell anyways.

Speaking of really old rental properties, our other challenges fall into the realm of what I expect most semi-temporary renters deal with: bad paint jobs, loathsome linoleum countertops in the kitchen, unfortunate lighting situations. All of which are either too cumbersome, costly, or just silly to mess with as a renter. We’re definitely looking forward to owning our own home in the future!

What Friends Say: My sister-in-law says she always feels most at home in our house, which is nice to hear. I’ve also been told that certain nooks look Pinterest-worthy, so I guess that’s a good thing? Others say it reminds them of a well-kept curio cabinet with perfectly-placed knickknacks, lots of old books, and little collections of things.

Mostly everyone likes the big open kitchen; though it has its rental property quirks, it is a great place to sit late into the night chatting and catching up over cups of tea and leftover pie.

Biggest Embarrassment: The old hand-me-down couch and chair combo that has suffered the wrath of several pets and several thousand miles of travel. Also, not my fault or choice, but the brown and tan tile in the bathroom.

Proudest DIY: A simple, but oh-so-helpful one is my pots and pans rack in my kitchen. When my grandfather last visited us, he helped me gather the supplies and install it. And one of my newest DIYs is the vintage-style poster frame on the Apples of New England print in the kitchen. My husband and I crafted it ourselves with bits of wood frame, brass hardware, and twine. We are quite giddy with our little project and have plans to make more, too!

Biggest Indulgence: West Elm linens for the nursery and lots of plants from great local greenhouses that we tuck here and there around the house. Little indulgences, I guess.

Best Advice: Remember that a home is built over time. When you’re in your mid-twenties with a young adult budget—like my husband and I—it’s easy to get wrapped up in the look of other people’s perfectly decorated spaces. Filling out your home takes time (and let’s be honest, money) in order to have it just as you’ve always wanted it. I find that my home feels me more authentic if I take time to find the perfect piece, incorporating the right finds here and there as we grow older and our tastes develop. So I try not to worry about the remaining IKEA pieces, unsavory hand-me-downs, and things that we can’t replace just yet.

Also, a piece of home-keeping wisdom I’ve learned from the matriarchs of my family: always go to bed with a clean kitchen.

Dream Sources: Anthropologie, Terrain, Biscuit Home, Brimfield Flea, CB2, and my grandfather—I wish I could just give him a huge budget and let him go wild with building bespoke furniture pieces. And he’d insist that I pay for his time and effort in pie and pot roast!

Resources

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

LIVING ROOM

  • Couch: vintage from family
  • Oversized chair: vintage from family
  • Ottoman: Target
  • Metal bookshelves: IKEA
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Coffee table: IKEA
  • Bike prints : Black Ink
  • Plants and handmade terra cotta: Snug Harbor Farm
  • Butler’s cabinet items: a mix of vintage pieces from thrift shops and SOWA, family heirlooms, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn finds, and hand-thrown pottery picked up in little Colorado shops—plus plenty more not pictured in the drawers below the cabinet!
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

KITCHEN

  • Table: IKEA with DIY chalkboard paint top
  • Yellow stools: Target
  • Baker’s rack: IKEA metal shelving with thrifted wood slab top
  • Apples of New England art: Folding Nature Guides
  • Frame: DIY
  • Bundt pans: vintage from various sources
  • Cast iron skillets: passed down from Katherine's great-grandmother and dad
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

BATHROOM

  • Soap dispenser and soap: Follain
  • Linens: Target
  • Shower curtain: Target
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

MASTER BEDROOM

  • Four poster bed: passed down from Katherine's great-grandmother
  • Shoe shelf: Target
  • Window frame headboard: from neighbor’s house rebuild with DIY paint
  • Bird cage wall art: UncommonGoods
  • Moses basket: Restoration Hardware
  • Linens: Target, vintage quilt
  • Hanging ivy: Wilson Farm
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

SECOND BEDROOM/NURSERY

  • Bed: vintage from family
  • Linens: West Elm
  • Pillow covers: IKEA
  • Rug: Target
  • Bookcase: IKEA with added thrifted drawer pulls
  • 1942 typewriter: found in the basement!
  • Crib: IKEA
  • Rolling cart: IKEA
  • Dresser: handmade by family member with added brass corner brackets
  • 1920s rocking chair : Dick’s Place antique shop (on our evening walking route)
  • Silver trophy antlers: thrifted
  • Ceramic feather mobile: Anthropologie
  • Baby’s first canoe paddle: L.L.Bean
  • Artwork: Rifle Paper Co., vintage nature guides, historical maps, family art
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

OFFICE/STUDIO

  • Desks: IKEA
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Dresser: IKEA
  • Bookshelf: handmade by Katherine's grandfather
  • Wood and leather desk chair: found in the basement and given a good clean!
  • Orange chair: passed down from Katherine's great-grandmother
  • Turntable: reproduction vintage Crosley
  • Record cabinet: vintage from family
(Image credit: Emily Billins)

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Thanks, Katherine & Josh!

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