Elizabeth’s Urban Artist Retreat

published Jan 12, 2012
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Name: Elizabeth Duvivier
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 5 months — rented

Elizabeth’s 2-bedroom apartment embodies all the those ephemeral qualities that transform an empty shell of space into a real home — it’s artful, personal, comfortable and above all, designed for actually living.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Elizabeth, founder of Squam Art Workshops — week-long art retreats in a stunning New Hampshire setting, is no stranger to making art and nature a part of everyday life. From her thoughtfully curated art collection, to the her diy furniture transformations, to her sweet vignettes of natural objects, a sense of creativity sparkles through every room. Mostly white furniture, pops of color, and the warmth of rugs over hardwood floors make the space feel airy and cozy at the same time — exactly the kind of relaxing retreat that a home should be.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Artful living

Inspiration: Swedish country — white floors and simple lines

Favorite Element: The sunlight, original wood floors and crown molding

Biggest Challenge: Office/studio/guestroom is one 14×14 space

What Friends Say: “I want to come visit.”

Biggest Embarrassment: I would have said, “bathroom sink drains really slowly” but the property manager just came and completely replaced the sink and faucet so it is brand-new and I’m kinda thrilled. (Also? Really good feng shui to have well-functioning plumbing — woot.)

Proudest DIY: Almost everything in my home has been repurposed so this is a hard choice. I would say the birch branch curtain rods and the recovered wicker bench came out as I imagined they could. Both were brought into being because of huge help from Terri Dautcher and Lauren Olaksen.

Biggest Indulgence: 18th century hand-woven linen, Italian sheets

Best Advice: If you love a piece it will work. If you have something in your home for any other reason (it was gift, you inherited it, you can’t afford to replace it, you don’t like it but it’s functional) — it will be a jarring note. Get rid of everything you don’t love — if it is not a yes, it’s a no.

Dream Sources: Loodylady on eBay. She has the best source of vintage textiles. I can’t believe I am sharing this with all of you.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


  • blue antique hutch: from second hand store


  • Painting: Dominique Fortin (possibly my most favorite living artist), “Crawling into the Unknown” from Galerie Saint-Dizier in Montreal
  • Bench: from second hand store (was black — painted it white) made cushion cover in 18th century linen with antique mother of pearl buttons
  • Bucks County Hutch: from second hand store
  • White table: from second hand store, solid mahagony but I don’t like dark furniture so I painted it white. It was in my studio for years so is covered with paint drips — but I have left it like that cause I like it
  • Rug: found it in a basement sale of a high-end rug store. Nobody wanted it because it was so primitive. But I loved the story: it was made in a village where they were relearning the old traditions — so this one is super basic. I think of it as a child’s sampler learning to do stitches, but it is awesome cause all the wool is made with vegetable dyes.
  • White chairs: inherited, they had preppy plaid fabric and skirts. Reupholstered in 18th century linen
  • Pottery collection: mostly from south of France, two big white urns are gleena
  • Low bureau with mirror: from second hand store, solid mahogany but again, painted it white


When I moved in, this room had hospital green walls, yellow counters and brown cabinets. The landlord allowed me to paint it all white. My niece helped me and it was her idea to cover the counters with contact paper, which worked really well — we picked it up at the local hardware store. See the before & after in Yankee Magazine.

  • Old green hutch: second hand store
  • White table: from a yard sale, is solid mahogany, painted it white
  • Kitchen rug: Pakobel (I have had excellent experiences buying second hand rugs from Pakobel. Best deals I have ever found — and quality is always high.)


  • Both the queen bed and day bed (in studio) are from Bedworks in Cambridge MA. Fabulous quality — hand made, hard woods and super affordable. I like the clean lines and the fact that there is space underneath for storage.
  • Painting: Lucille Marcotte, I am absolutely besotted with her gestural work from Galerie Saint-Dizier in Montreal


  • Rugs: hand-hooked by my grandmother

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Elizabeth!

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