Name: Keith Ellis & Rebecca Greenberg-Ellis
Location: Guilford, Connecticut
Size: about 900 square feet
Years lived in: 2
After living all over the world, from Peru to San Francisco, Eastern Europe to Kenya, these two (soon to be three!) travelers have now nestled into a cozy cabin in Connecticut, just outside of New Haven. They've picked up curious items from all over and now these worldly goods come together in the most lovely way.
Keith and Rebecca's home envelopes you with warmth, love and personal history, right as you enter the space. The cabin is made of natural materials, and is surrounded by dense trees, marshlands and the ocean. The setting is remarkable, with great access to local hikes, dog walks on the beach and long bicycle rides. The home is a relatively small 2-bedroom, but feels absolutely spacious with lofted ceilings and storage above. The open floor plan is inviting and social. One person can putter about with local produce in the kitchen while another relaxes on the couch around the corner.
The most wonderful aspect of this home is how Keith and Rebecca have organized all their precious objects, collected while adventuring, into a cohesive look. It's not cluttered, but it's very personal. One gets a good beat on who these two folks are by spending just hours in this tender abode. Each painting, map, photo, object, mask, book, and sparkle bears a story, memory and a laugh. They live in the ultimate conversation starter! One never gets bored spending time here. Don't you want to cozy up in a wool blanket and explore this place? And buy a plane ticket to some exotic locale? Absolutely!
Our style: A minimalist marries a collector.
Inspiration: Our life together. Everything we have was collected/bought/found from a trip or an adventure that we've done individually or together. We have a lot of "objets," trinkets, found items, curios, and random pieces of art, but each one has a story.
Favorite Element: The giant 1920's map of South America that we got at a flea market years ago. After spending a year in South America together, I wanted to stitch a thread into the map that showed our route, but I can't bring myself to touch it. It's so awesomely tattered as it is.
Biggest Challenge: We're renters, and the place came mostly furnished. So blending our stuff with our landlord's furniture was tricky. We had to be really brutal about what got used vs. being stored in the loft. We also can't paint, renovate or make any other major changes.
What Friends Say: Most say that our place feels like a "real home" now. After being so nomadic for the last ten years or so (college, backpacking, early 20's in San Francisco) we've really settled into this place and made it a home. I think it partially feels this way because we moved from the West Coast and had to sell/donate most of our old stuff before the big move (Ikea furniture, etc). So what we have now is what we truly value.
Proudest DIY: The yellow elephant rocking horse that Keith painted for the baby! But we didn't get any pictures of it.
Biggest Indulgence: Our Pottery Barn collector's coffee table. It houses so many bizarre and nostalgic pieces of clutter. It's a great way to tell a story through a display of stuff. It also forces me to corral my millions of tiny objects! It has my childhood turtle collection, Keith's grandmother's stethoscope (they're both nurses), a trophy I got when I turned six for being "the best little girl in the whole wide world," my great grandmother's gorgeous wire-rimmed gold glasses, a Mexican slingshot, Kenyan wrist cuffs, etc.
Best Advice: Be curatorial and brutal! If Keith weren't a die hard minimalist at heart, our house would be overflowing with knick knacks of every shape and size (the international souvenirs that cost less than $1 collection had to go).
Green Elements/Initiatives: We have a container kitchen garden, and a worm bin that processes our green waste!
Furniture: Mostly Craigslist and second-hand, with a few Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma Home leftovers from when I was a buyer and got a great discount!
Accessories: Our travels.
Lighting: Same as furniture.
Rugs and Carpets: Lanlord's
Artwork: Almost completely our friends!
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(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)