A Photographer’s “Found & Foraged” South End Row House

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Photographer’s “Found & Foraged” South End Row House

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Li Ward and husband Dan
South End — Boston, Masschusetts
1,380 square feet
Years lived in: 10 years, owned

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Li Ward and her husband Dan initially met through their work as computer science professionals, but after a decade in the industry, Li decided it wasn’t the right future for her. Around 2009, Li took the plunge into full-time freelance photography after seeing a West Coast friend succeeding at the same thing. She now runs Fat Orange Cat Studio here in Boston, a well-recognized wedding and pet photography business, as well as Li Wardian, a bespoke lettering and design company.

Li certainly stays busy running two businesses and creating gorgeous new work on the daily, but she graciously found time to show me around their unique South End home. Her found and foraged style stems from a love for antiquing, a modest budget, and an appreciation of the past. Many old and new elements co-exist throughout their space. Li also has a total knack for picking out the perfect accent wallpaper or color palette for each ­­room — design being another realm where her artistic tendencies come into focus!

The couple was so welcoming, as was their Maine Coon mix Bingley. He proved to be a total ham for the camera, and although friendly, keeps a safe distance (unless you have treats)! They’ve truly built a home to cherish; it’s no wonder they’ve been there 10 years and counting.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Found and foraged (including old furniture from my parents’ house) mixed in with the new.

Inspiration: So many things. I like minimal and light such as the rooms at the Wythe Hotel, on which we based our bedroom design. But I like mystery too: tendrils of smoke, Edward Gorey, the inky colors of oyster shells, lots of gold and rich jewel tones.

Favorite Element: The built-in shelves, drawers, and closet in the master bedroom. We used up what was wasted space in that part of the room for the extra storage, so it is a win-win.

Biggest Challenge: What to do with that tiny guest bedroom. We used to have my college futon in there and my husband’s childhood dresser, which was really big, and so when you folded out the futon there was only enough floor space for you to take one step in. When we finally got rid of our old furniture we shopped around for a bed replacement that would not take up too much space but look good too. A day bed? Trundle? We entertained bunk beds too! Then my interior designer friend Alina asked, “Well how often do you have guests staying over?” Hardly ever. Right. So now the guest bedroom is a dark and moody sitting room with no bed in sight.

Proudest DIY: That gallery wall on the staircase. The amount of wall space is so overwhelming that I couldn’t decide what to do with it, so for nine years I did nothing. Just over the last year I started antiquing for paintings, drawings, even embroidery, in old ornate frames which I accumulated to finally tackle that wall. To make the selection process easier I chose pieces that had faces in them. But overall I didn’t get hung up on needing everything to “match” — I have ornate gold frames mixed with minimalist black frames mixed with wooden frames. I also didn’t plan out the arrangement. I simply started with the largest piece — the lady in the big gold frame — at the bottom corner and worked my way up, fitting pieces in like a puzzle. I really love the way it turned out!

Biggest Indulgence: The wool cabled rug in our bedroom. It’s thick, soft, and so luxurious.

Best Advice: The guest bedroom need not have a bed in it.


Sofa — Jordan’s Furniture
Chairs — Mitchelle Gold + Bob Williams
Rug — Loloi, Anastasia
Pink rug — vintage, Kaya Kilims
Wallpaper — Cranesbill Castle, Anthropologie

Everything in the kitchen is as-is when we bought the house, except for the dining table/chairs, which are vintage from my parents’ house, and the island table which is by John Boos.

Interior Design — Alina Wolhardt of Wolf in Sheep
Custom built-in shelves, drawers, closet — Nick Doriss, Doriss Design Workshoppe
Wallpaper — Romo
Live edge wooden headboard — Mohr & McPherson
White mid-century night stand — West Elm
White double lamp — Jonathan Adler
Luggage side table — vintage finds from Brimfield Flea Market
Green lamp base — vintage from Brimfield Flea Market
Mini Desk — West Elm
Cable Rug — Room & Board
Small rug — vintage, Kaya Kilims
Map of Boston — Ward Maps

Interior Design — Alina Wolhardt of Wolf in Sheep
Paint — Benjamin Moore, Baby Seal Black
Wallpaper on ceiling — Omexco
Blue Velvet Settee — VintageRescues on Etsy
Green velvet chair — Mitchelle Gold + Bob Williams
Sun light fixture — Circa Lighting
Bureau — vintage, from my childhood bedroom
Small table — custom by Nick Doriss, Doriss Design Workshoppe. Top is from my childhood desk
Rug — yellow one at the bottom – Anthropologie
Rug — blue on top – vintage from Seed to Stem, Worcester MA
Fringe floor lamp — vintage
Marble side table — top and legs found separately at Brimfield Flea Market, then superglued
Milk glass lamp — Goodwill
Hangings on wall — various antique stores including Crompton Collective, Worcester MA / Ramble Market, Waltham MA / Winsmith Mill Market, Norwood MA / SOWA Vintage Market

Mix of photographs by me, painting of cat silhouettes by me, Edward Gorey prints, Picasso poster from Paris – framed by Back Bay Framery and Framebridge
Deer painting by Happy Menocal
Rest are found from various flea markets

Thanks, Li, Dan and Bingley!

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