Jessica & Ryan’s Composed, Collected Apartment With a Chill 1970s Feel
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Jessica and Ryan are no strangers to the challenge of fitting a busy life into a small space. The two creatives have managed to live and work out of a 700-square-foot apartment for the last six years. Jess deals in vintage housewares and furniture, splitting her time between running her Etsy shop and working at a Danish Modern furniture shop, while Ryan works for online research databases by day and runs a record label by night. Their penchant for plants and vintage finds could easily leave their home feeling cramped, but with an edited aesthetic, they have found the right balance between functionality and coziness—creating a welcoming space perfect for both work and relaxation.
I have followed Jess’ shop, Houseworking, since I first discovered her dreamy Instagram feed. With a discerning eye, Jess curates a collection of goods she is aesthetically drawn to and wouldn’t mind seeing in her own home, because thanks to the lack of available storage, the items she gathers for her shop first decorate her living space.
Having just celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary and “seven years of real good love,” the couple’s style is seamless. Jess and Ryan share a strong love for “Mid-century style that leans towards a chill ’70s feel, with a focus on goods made from natural materials.” The couple incorporates mature plants, unique artwork, and musical elements, which make the space undeniably theirs. Jess and Ryan’s nest is perfectly laid-back and comes across as so effortless, it is hard to imagine it any other way.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Nearly everything has been found at thrift stores, flea markets, junk shops, and used bookstores, which has definitely given our home a “collected” look. In general, we love Mid-century style that leans towards a chill ’70s feel, with a focus on goods made from natural materials.
Inspiration: Terence Conran’s The House Book, TRUCK Nest, Handmade Houses, Apartamento magazine, greenhouses, California.
Favorite Element: Though it’s only three rooms, it makes a world of difference that the apartment is spread over two floors. Having our bedroom and office on a separate floor than the living and eating space makes the place feel much larger than it is.
Biggest Challenge: 1. We sometimes get the Tiny Kitchen Blues. We love to cook, but doing it together can be pretty tough in a space that only has room for one butt at a time. 2. Running two online businesses from home—messes abound.
What Friends Say: We hear the word “cozy” a lot.
Biggest Embarrassment: Please don’t look in the closets.
Proudest DIY: When we moved in, the floor downstairs was yellowed, scratched old linoleum. After trying to cover it all with rugs for far too long, I installed a new faux-wood vinyl floor while Ryan was at work one day. Surprise! The project cost next to nothing and was such a massive improvement on the whole space. Next time I’ll invest in some knee pads, though.
Biggest Indulgence: Our sectional sofa feels like a very indulgent thing to have in such a small space. After trying a couple of different sofa + chair configurations over the years, a friend offered us this (free!) sofa that she was getting rid of, and we took a gamble. Getting it in here was certainly a challenge, but it sure paid off—we can both lie down while watching a movie!
Best Advice: Drive a station wagon, be sure to always have some space in it for unexpected finds.
Dream Sources: Truck Furniture in Osaka, Japan.
PAINT & COLORS
- Wall colors are all Landlord’s Special!
- Big Bow watercolor: Alexandra Emmons
- Danish Modern wall shelf: vintage
- Plant: One of our first plant purchases was a little rubber plant in a 4” pot. It’s grown into this big ol’ thing that’s now as tall as we are! We’re pretty proud.
- Salinger print: Book/Shop, Oakland, CA
- Turntable: Pendleton x Crosley
- Turntable stand/table: thrifted—this was once a floor lamp/table hybrid, but I removed the lamp and gave it a new, simpler life.
- Large print over couch: Phil Elverum
- Vintage nude oil painting: flea market
- Framed postcards: High Desert Test Sites series
- Antique Old Man in the Mountain print: flea market
- Antique sacred heart embroidery: flea market
- Teak coffee table: thrifted
- Old African woven tray: thrifted
- Sofa: a hand-me-down, originally from Macy’s
- ’70s leather throw pillows: Found Yesterday Goods on Etsy
- White cotton fringe pillows: vintage via Etsy
- Ikat pillow: sewn by Jess from an old Anthropologie napkin
- Vintage Guatemalan blanket: Vintage 211, Gloucester, MA
- Raffia Kuba cloth (hung on side of fridge): flea market
- Live-edge side table: Witch City Consignment, Salem, MA
- Kilim rug: thrifted
- Brass magazine/record rack: side of the road
- Mid-century modern beehive lamp, teak lamp, and ceramic hand-built lamp: various thrift stores
- Handmade dining table: Circa Vintage Goods, Ipswich, MA—I couldn’t resist when I came across this bonkers table made from a wooden spool top; there are little inlaid creatures and crop circle-esque shapes! I knew Ryan would love it, and my dealer friend offered it at a price I couldn’t refuse. It’s definitely something we’ll hang onto for a very long time! Sadly, there’s no signature or indication of who made it.
- Vintage Danish teak dining chairs: a gift from my boss at Be Modern, Ipswich, MA. I reupholstered them with new Pendleton wool yardage.
- Items on wall shelves above the table: recent thrift and flea market finds, along with bits and pieces from nature
- Kalimba and tambourine: vintage
- Richard Brautigan print: Book/Shop, Oakland, CA
- 1800s etching from a geology textbook: Etsy
- Assorted studio pottery ceramics: thrift stores
- Ceramic incense burner: BKB ceramics in Joshua Tree, CA
- Trio of Danish Modern teak candleholders: thrifted
- Tiny perpetual calendar: vintage find from Etsy—we couldn’t ever remember to flip it, so now we just leave it on our wedding date.
- Old metal locker: Diamonds and Rust, Beverly, MA—this thing houses all of our movies and video games so they’re easy to access yet hidden away from sight.
- David Hockney poster: thrifted
- Hanging textile: Found Yesterday Goods on Etsy
- Mid-century footstool: side of the road find, re-upholstered by Jess using an old Hudson Bay jacket
- New Sweater screen print: Dan McCarthy
- Record shelves: IKEA Expedit
- Desk chair: vintage Eames La Fonda chair, found at Vintage 211 in Gloucester, MA
- Eames shell chair at organ: Salt Marsh Antiques, Rowley, MA—Eiffel base is new from Modernica
- Grinnell organ: vintage
- Old Mystic Board: Salt Marsh Antiques, Rowley, MA
- Hanging fiber art: made by Jess
- Framed landscape print on wall shelf: cut from a museum brochure many years ago
- Vintage oil painting: Be Modern, Ipswich, MA
- Ceramic snake pot: Stefanie Bessman, Brooklyn, NY
- Other ceramics: thrifted
- Bookshelves: thrifted and handmade
- Collection of vintage typewriters and flashlights: thrift stores, Etsy, flea markets
- Rug: thrift store
- Desk lamp: IKEA
- Wooden globe lamp: thrift store
- Bed frame: secondhand IKEA via Craigslist
- Vintage marbled pillowcases: Etsy
- Duvet: Ralph Lauren
- Big piece of weathered wood: dragged home from the beach
- Bolster pillow: made by Jess from a thrifted table runner
- Wonky plant bench: made by Jess
- Vintage macramé hanging shelf: The Mills at Pulaski, Peabody, MA
- Planter baskets: thrifted
- Antique mirror on bureau: thrifted
- Black and white print: Liz Harris
- Pleiades (seven-fingered hand print): VIZArt on Etsy
- Vintage art show poster: flea market
- Dead Sea photograph: Antiques Alley, Northwood, NH
- Floor lamp: Target
- Bedside lamps: Target
- Brown ceramic lamp: Diamonds and Rust, Beverly, MA
- Cork lampshade: Target
- Rugs: thrifted
- Jess’ shop area: This is where I keep my shop inventory. Keeping it visible and ready-to-ship makes my life easier, and I’m not haunted by it since it’s all tucked in this little corner.
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