Name: Alana and Joe Hearn
Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; Owned
The first thing you see when you enter the living room of Joe and Alana’s 19th century Newport home is a dynamic multimedia painting of a woman. Head thrown back, pink mouth wide open, eyes crinkled shut—you can almost hear her laughing. Her hair, made of repurposed piano keys, sticks straight out as if an electric current is running through her. The artwork, aptly named Party Central, captures the essence of this delightful couple and their merry home.
Joe and Alana like to surround themselves with things that bring them joy: punchy colors mixed with bold patterns and beloved objects that capture their youthful spirit. The orange exterior—paired perfectly with a front door painted a deep shade of blue—makes it clear the people who live inside are anything but boring. Wooden robots, a pair of robot pillows, a stuffed panther, and favorite children’s books are proudly displayed in their den. A drawing of Mr. T and E.T. riding a bike, titled Besties, hangs on a wall. When a four-year-old visited the couple this summer and described them as “the adults who like kid things,” they took great pride. “Well, if that isn’t the hugest, best compliment ever, I don’t know what is!” Alana says with glee.
The Hearn home masters playfulness without sacrificing sophistication. Beautiful built-in shelving, pocket French doors, and custom woodwork by Joe complement the lovely bones of the 160-year-old structure. Before the couple took on a major renovation in 2012, the room that is now their den was their bedroom, and the second story was a separate apartment with very little natural light. Many years of working as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity all across the world—more than 25 years for Joe—prepared the couple to do the majority of the work themselves. The exquisitely serene master bedroom they created shows no signs that it was once a small, dark living room and kitchen. The room–painted a soothing grey, with custom closets and cabinets, a small makeup sink, and a gas fireplace–is worthy of a magazine spread.
Check out Alana's fashion sense → Alana's Real-Life "Fun and Packable" Style
“Our home is often filled with friends, noise, and laughter,” says Joe. The house includes two guest bedrooms, added during the second floor renovation, that get a lot of use. Their dining room, filled with sentimental furniture and a chandelier inherited from their grandparents, is a place where new memories are always being made. “We love hosting dinner parties knowing that they once laughed and dined in the same chairs, beneath our chandelier,” Joe says. A typical weekend with guests includes food, cocktails, living room dance parties, and bike rides. “We’re very blessed to have dear friends who value mischief the way we do,” says Joe.
If you’re thinking life is all fun and no work for these two, you’d be wrong; they each have demanding jobs that require them to put in long days. Alana is a partner and executive producer at Identity, a TV commercial production company, and TRIPTENT, a creative agency. Both companies are based in New York City. Joe is the founder and president of Advanced Remarketing Services, which focuses on end-of-life vehicles and helps to raise money for charities through car donation programs. His company is based in Warren, Rhode Island. To be together, they travel between the Big Apple and the Ocean State, an arrangement which requires them both to work remotely at times. The couple converted a closet in their den into Alana’s Newport office. “We loved the idea of having a work space that can be easily hidden rather than always inviting her attention,” Joe explains.
See more of Alana's closet office here → Inspiration and Resources for a Compact Closet Office
Whether it’s work, play, or building a home together, Joe and Alana always remember to have fun and not take life too seriously. Joe explains, “We don’t really get caught in the work/life balance dilemma because our work and friends and family all roll into this one life rather than being compartmentalized. It’s all one big ruckus for us.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Our home is often filled with friends, noise, and laughter, so we tend to acquire things that make us laugh or bring a smile. As we travel a lot, and are back and forth between New York and Newport, having small spaces in both places keeps us streamlined. We try to only surround ourselves with things that bring us joy or which we know to be necessary. That said, there is a hidden trunk beneath our window seat which is bursting with costumes! (We consider this to be absolutely necessary.)
Inspiration: Alana pulls inspiration from different places: our travels, her obsession with Remodelista, bright punchy colors, and the quirky patterns of clothing designers like Ted Baker. We also like the clean lines of Mid-century modern furniture, but try to remain loyal to our small, 160-year-old home.
Favorite Element: Our bedroom—the second floor was an apartment until 2012. What is now the master bedroom was once a small living room and kitchen. We were able to keep the plumbing and gas and used them to introduce a gas fireplace and a small vanity with a sink.
Biggest Challenge: Our 2012 remodel—aside from some incredible help from our friends Spencer McCombe, Jim Moreau, and, later, Joe Carey, we handled a major renovation ourselves, all in the midst of planning a wedding. It was a relationship-challenger to be sure.
Since the 2nd floor of our 160-year-old home was a small space with low ceilings, our most limiting factor was "volume." We demo’ed the entire second floor, cut out the rafter ties, and carried the ceiling right up to the roof line. The added volume changed the energy and lighting significantly. The space which previously was dark and confined is now much more comfortable.
What Friends Say: “Do you have any more rum?” “I love the colors.” “Your house feels so much bigger than it looks.”
Biggest Embarrassment: Over 4th of July weekend 2012, we were sweating it out while staining our bedroom floor. It was four months into the renovation, and two months before our wedding. Alana cracked and started crying. For the sake of our marriage, we halted work and went to the beach. We called Joe Carey of Carey Floors the next day, and he came to our rescue. However, there is a tiny spot on the bedroom floor left by the salty tear Alana shed that day…
Proudest DIY: We each have our favorites.
Joe: It’s the credenza I built as a Christmas present for Alana. I built it using salvaged timber leftover from the demolition.
Alana: The 10 furniture and fixture pieces I painted throughout the house. Joe introduced me to the paint gun and I instantly fell in love.
Biggest Indulgence: Betty Ford, our 1973 Eldorado….
Best Advice: Listen to the house. With an old house, you can’t impose your will in all cases.
Find a way to work together. Doing DIY projects with two equally strong- willed individuals can make for some "interesting" exchanges. Finding a way to divide the labor helps.
Dream Sources: ABC Carpet & Home in New York City–it's a perfect inspiration pool (and time-waster) for a Sunday afternoon; Remodelista; the black hole that is Pinterest.
PAINT & COLORS
All paints Sherwin-Williams, but we used color swatches from Glidden, BEHR, and Benjamin Moore
- Entry: BEHR Misty Morn
- Hallway: BEHR Misty Morn
- Trim: BEHR Bridal Veil
- Living room: BEHR Ozone
- Dining room: Glidden Liberty Blue
- Kitchen: BEHR Delicious Berry
- Master bedroom walls: BEHR Dolphin Grey
- Master bedroom cabinets: BEHR Bank Vault
- Master bedroom floors: Zar Custom Light Grey Tinted Acrylic Floor Stain
- Bathroom: Martha Stewart Salt Glaze
- Office/den: Glidden Warm Grey Flannel
- Exterior trim color: Benjamin Moore Steam
- Exterior color: custom orange
- Exterior foundation and fence: custom grey
- Couch: Room & Board
- Love seat: DWR
- Light fixtures: eBay
- Ottoman: Overstock.com
- Side table: secondhand
- Moroccan pouf: One Kings Lane
- Knit pouf: La Casa de Coto on Etsy
- Bookshelves: built by Joe
- Pillowcases: C. Wonder
- Party Central (multimedia painting): by Chris Wyllie, courtesy of Kristen Coates
- Lion Tamer (small art piece): by Paul Smith
- Purgatory Chasm (print): gift
- Artwork above fireplace: street artist in Valparaiso, Chile
- Table, chairs, and sideboard: belonged to Alana’s grandparents and were a wedding gift from her aunt
- Chandelier: belonged to Joe’s parents and was repainted red by Alana—we love hosting dinner parties knowing that our families once laughed and dined in the same chairs, beneath our chandelier.
- Colorful table runner: Anthropologie
- Wine cupboard: secondhand
- Photos: from various volunteer trips in Haiti, Bolivia, Cambodia, and Africa
- Elephant collage: by John Hung Ha
- Other pieces: various travels
- Bed: built by Joe
- Gas fireplace: Empire Comfort Systems
- Makeup sink: IKEA
- Cabinets: built by Joe
- Closets: built by Joe
- Lighting: Kartel
- Bench: One Kings Lane
FIRST GUEST BEDROOM
- Dresser: secondhand, repainted by Alana
- Bench: secondhand, repainted by Alana
- Desk and desk chair: secondhand, repainted by Alana
- Bedding: Moroccan designer
- Bedside cabinet: secondhand, repainted by Alana
- Doorknob: Anthropologie
SECOND GUEST BEDROOM
- Cabinet: built by Joe, painted by Alana
- Bedding: West Elm
- Pillows: Etsy
- Shark artwork: by John Hung Ha
- Surfer photograph: by Jason Evans
- Bench: secondhand, repainted and upholstered by Alana
- Window seat: built by Joe
- Bookshelves: built by Joe
- French doors: Joe
- Closet office: built by Joe and Alana
- Rug: One Kings Lane
- Bookshelf: secondhand, repainted by Alana
- Lamps: Terence Conran for JCPenny
- Round table: secondhand, repainted by Alana
- Besties: by Kelly Puissegur
- Super Ass vs Bad Chair: by Graham Roumieu
- Wooden robots: thoughtful wedding gift from our friend Cindy Llamas—they are a scaled rendering of the robots on our wedding invitation.
- Robot pillows: another thoughtful wedding gift from Alex Lose, Katie Bigham, and friends from Alana’s work
- Stuffed black cat: His name is Anniversary Panther, a favorite of ours... He was an anniversary gift from our friend by Gino Gianneschi.
- READ sign: Found while pulling down the ancient horsehair lath and plaster ceilings on the second floor—most of the ceiling was attached to an old wooden sign that was roughly split and repurposed. We were able to assemble three sections of what was likely a very large sign. The remnants spelled out "Goff’s Reading Room." The third section of four rough pieces could be assembled as READIN. We decided to mount and repair all three signs. We shortened the third to READ and hung it above the pocket door we installed in the den. The other two signs are reassembled in our basement waiting for a home someday. (Newport Historical Society could not find a reference for Goff’s Reading Room in Newport; we remain pretty curious.)
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