A “New England Meets West Coast” Style Home

published Nov 17, 2015
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Alice Saunders and her pup, Maisey
Location: Jamaica Plain; Boston, Massachusetts
Size: Approximately 800 square feet
Years lived in: 5 1/2 years; Rented

Alice Saunders is a prominent figure in the world of artists and makers. A native of New Hampshire, this New England gal is the owner of Forestbound, where she designs and crafts beautiful leather and canvas totes out of vintage materials sourced at flea markets, estate sales, and military shows. Stepping through the door of her one-bedroom apartment in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, Alice leans nonchalantly against the arched entry—her dog, Maisey, close by. Behind her, denim jackets hang above a line of well-worn leather boots. Not even five feet into her home, it is clear that this New England maker embodies an innate sense of style that extends to all aspects of her life, work, and decor.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Alice’s clearly-defined aesthetic—which she describes as “minimal New England meets eclectic 1970s West Coast hand-built house”—is as much about what she gravitates to as it is about what she swears off. Her space shows restraint and an edited eye; a feat not easily accomplished by someone who’s job requires weekly trips to the flea market.

The 1920s home embodies Alice’s sensibility and feels well-lived-in—but nothing can distract or detract from its classic charm. Besides the beautiful wood trim and arched doorways, the apartment has a great history all its own: Alice’s landlord, who lives in the apartment upstairs, has called the building her home since she was a 16-year-old bride, some 70 years ago.

Check out a tour of Alice’s creative business → Forestbound’s Practical New England Workspace Tour

Living in a home that has known so much love and care over the years seems appropriate for a tenant like Alice, who embraces the history of the materials and objects she acquires. She notes her inspiration is rooted in “the stories behind all of the vintage textiles and furniture that I surround myself with, the plants and artwork that I inherited from my Dad, and the beauty of New England countryside in all seasons, but especially autumn.” There is little doubt that Alice is making a quiet statement of her own. Much like all of Alice’s creations, the apartment’s visual identity is sure to speak profoundly to all who stop and listen.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Minimal New England meets eclectic 1970s West Coast hand-built house.

Inspiration: The stories behind all of the vintage textiles and furniture that I surround myself with, the plants and artwork that I inherited from my dad, the beauty of the New England countryside in all seasons but especially autumn.

Favorite Element: This is a tough one… but honestly I think it’s just the apartment as a whole. My landlord lives upstairs and she’s lived in the house since she was a young bride at 16 (she’s in her late 80s now!). We interact with her almost every day and she’s become a big part of our lives and us a big part of hers. The house as a whole hasn’t changed much since the time she moved in, but has been maintained beautifully. So I just feel very lucky to live here—it’s a special home with so much history in the middle of an area that is quickly being developed.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping the design and decor aesthetically pleasing but also practical and functional for our everyday lives. I share this small-ish apartment with my boyfriend, his five bicycles, and our dog. We have very minimal storage so we need to be intentional with basically every square foot, which can be challenging for someone like me who loves going to the flea market and bringing home new treasures every week.

What Friends Say: How do you keep all these plants alive?!

Biggest Embarrassment: The state of our windows…pretty much every one in the apartment is covered with smudges from my dog’s nose—she is a chronic window creeper.

Proudest DIY: We have a small perennial border along the side of the house that was a mess when I moved in. I spent a good amount of time and my own money on designing and replanting the space, and now, five years later, it’s beautiful and blooms throughout the year. I was very intentional with what I planted while also only buying plants on sale at various nurseries to save money. I have peonies and roses that bloom in the spring, Russian sage and catmint that happily bloom all summer, and sedum in the fall. It’s pretty basic—but makes me very happy and provides me with a constant supply of cut flowers for the apartment.

Biggest Indulgence: Marble top bistro table from West Elm. I spent a few years searching the flea market for a bistro table that was the right size and style for my small sitting/dining room and had zero luck. After too many dinners eaten on the couch I finally caved and purchased this beautiful marble top bistro table that I had been coveting for half a year.

Best Advice: Plants and fresh flowers bring so much life into a space and can act as a design element that doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent. I love incorporating different cut flowers and greenery throughout the seasons and seeing how they can change the look of a particular corner of my apartment just on their own.

Dream Sources: Brimfield flea market and the Rose Bowl flea market with a never-ending pocket full of cash and someone to carry all my finds home for me.


(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • I haven’t repainted the walls since I moved in… (That’s somewhat embarrassing to admit.)
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Rolling cart: vintage via a flea market
  • Mirror: vintage via a flea market
  • Bowl for holding keys: vintage via a yard sale
  • Lamp: West Elm
  • All Together NOW poster: vintage via eBay
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Rocking chair: found on the street, reupholstered by Trimount Ironworks
  • Wooden bench: Trimount Ironworks
  • Mirror: vintage via a flea market
  • Wood crate: vintage via a flea market
  • Lamp: West Elm
  • Pottery: vintage inherited from my dad
  • Carpet bag: vintage via the Inspiration LA vintage show
  • Bistro table: West Elm
  • Wood folding chairs: vintage via a flea market
  • Rug: inherited from my dad—it’s been in my family for many generations.
  • Shaker-style bench: vintage via a flea market
  • Sheepskin: New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival
  • Color blocked ceramic vases: Steven Alan for West Elm
  • Wood vase: vintage via a thrift store down the street
  • Woven basket: vintage via a thrift store down the street
  • Black and white fiddle leaf print: by Emily Benziger via Fine Life Co
  • Drawings: by a soldier in the US Navy during WWII via a flea market
  • Charcoal drawing: by John Grazier, inherited from my dad
  • Oil painting: artist unknown, inherited from my dad
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Couch: IKEA
  • Ottoman: IKEA
  • Pillows: Pottery Barn, IKEA
  • Wooden crate-turned-coffee table: vintage via a New Hampshire estate sale
  • Rug: vintage via a flea market
  • Lamp: IKEA
  • Painting: by John Grazier, inherited from my dad
  • Dried flower arrangement: given to me by Erin and Rose of Forêt Design Studio in remembrance of my dad—it was all fresh flowers that dried beautifully.
  • Photo collage of my dad: via Pinhole Press
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Wood and metal shelving unit: Trimount Ironworks
  • Metal peg board: vintage via an antique shop in New Hampshire
  • All glass vases/jars/cups: vintage via various flea markets, estate sales, and vintage shops
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Bed frame: Trimount Ironworks
  • Quilt: Pottery Barn
  • Woven wall hanging: vintage via an estate sale down the street
  • Bedside lamp: West Elm
  • Bedside table: West Elm
  • Ceramic vase: via the ladies of Fôret Design Studio
  • Wooden crate: vintage via a flea market
  • Woven basket: vintage via a flea market
  • Striped pillowcases: John Derian
  • Indigo textiles: vintage via a flea market
  • Black and white desert print: by Linda Benziger via Fine Life Co
  • Painted bear on metal piece: vintage WWII-era bomber art via a flea market
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The front room serves as the entry, dining room, and sitting area. (Image credit: Emily Billings)

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Thanks, Alice!