Rachael & Joe’s Sleepy Minimalism with Monumental Views

published Sep 15, 2015
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Name: Joe & Rachael Ringenberg, daughters Lux & Joan
Location: Beacon Hill; Boston, MA
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

Rachael, of Erstwhile Dear, and Joe Ringenberg, a product designer for Wistia, live in this intimate Beacon Hill apartment with their daughters, Lux and Joan. The couple has honed in on a sleepy-minimalist scheme that reflects the abundance of natural light, transforming the attic space into an airy, lived-in nest. The couple’s enviable art collection, meaningful family heirlooms, and self-designed furniture give character and context to this clean and simple slate.

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Joe illustrated the floor plan of their attic apartment. (Image credit: Emily Billings)
(Image credit: Emily Billings)
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Rachael and Joe’s home is proof that a space is what you make it. Their tiny, fifth floor, idiosyncratic attic apartment might not seem like an obvious choice for a family with two young children (and another on the way!), but the couple has turned the unconventional space into a bright and imaginative home brimming with creativity and pops of color. Adjacent to a private garden in Beacon Hill, the 900 square foot apartment hosts many enviable features, including original wooden beams, unbeatable city views, and a flood of natural light.

For a growing family, the small space requires mindful living, purging, and keeping a clutter-free approach in each room to accommodate their day-to-day lives. The Ringenberg family has created an intentional living space with carefully curated pieces they have a strong connection to and that hold a sense of history for them. That, and Joe’s ability to design small living furniture and storage solutions, has made this space truly unique.

As city residents can attest, the surrounding metropolis is simply an extension of often-limited living space. The Ringenbergs’ love exploring and blogging about Boston restaurants, strolling around town in search of pastries, finding respite in the shade of nearby parks, dancing away at ballet classes, and venturing outside the city center for weekend getaways. This young family has far more than 900 square feet to call home. Their apartment is where they nest and retreat from the city — and they truly have found the perfect space to watch the sky change through their fifth floor windows.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Lived-in, sleepy minimalism.

Inspiration: Objects with stories. The old building itself is full of idiosyncrasies that give it character, like the old roof beams that cut through our little attic apartment. We like things that show some mark of where they came from and what’s happened since.

Favorite Element: Looking out the windows and watching the sky change over the city.

Biggest Challenge: Constant purging. The big stuff we outgrow is easy to pass on, but the boring papers and forgotten library books pile up and make us feel chaotic.

What Friends Say: It feels like a treehouse. The tiny elevator that leads up to us is rickety and makes you feel like you’re going some place pretty dismal. You’re met with another set of stairs and an odd little door you have to stoop to enter. Then it’s so bright once you step inside!…They also can’t believe we’ve lived for two years without a shower.

Biggest Embarrassment: The carpet! Oh we hate it. It feels like it’s impossible to clean. But what’s a renter to do?

Proudest DIY: Joe does the best projects for me. He put together this practically vintage IKEA bunk bed that we loved because it still let all the light into the room, he added hinges and riffed on Lux’s old crib wall for the “roof” up top, and he built the art supply pegboard of my dreams. He turned a coat closet into a pantry, installed an old typesetter’s drawer in the closet, and designed a kitchen table to fit our nook for four perfectly.

Biggest Indulgence: We’re always collecting art even though we can never get it on the wall. It’s all packed in folders, in between pages of books, or stacked under our bed like an abandoned museum. It will all be dusted off and treated to a good life… some day.

Best Advice: Keep a paper bag in the closet earmarked for Goodwill.


(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Flowers: Boston Pollen
  • Orange enamel kettle: Poketo
  • Dining table: Joe picked up this old Eames table base on Craigslist and used to find a carpenter to make the top.
  • Chairs: Eames molded plastic side chair, from DWR
  • Highchair seats: the most functional, adjustable chair of all time, designed by Peter Opsvik for Stokke
  • Stool: Ikea
  • Wood burl bowl: RootWorks
  • Metal animals: India ink on sheet metal, by Stephanie Morgan Rogers
  • Dunkin’ Donuts screen print: Brad Johnston
  • River project print: by Christo & Jeanne-Claude
  • Ginger Snap: recipe by grandma Agnes Cusack, illustrated by Brim Papery
  • ICE print: Union Press
  • Bunny grocery list: trusty list by Rachael, illustration by Joe
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Pegboard: Joe designed this pegboard pattern and had it milled by RADLAB. The tin cans are hooked to regular pegboard hardware, which was all spray-painted bronze.
  • Wooden chair: grandmother’s vintage Eames
  • Girls’ table: IKEA
  • Rug: Brimfield antique market
  • Desk: white panel via IKEA’s as-is section, file cabinets via craigslist, bronze handles by Period Furniture Hardware Co
  • Map of Rome: Giambattista Nolli, 1748, reproduction by J. H. Aronson
  • Mobile: Poketo
  • Silver pouf: Land of Nod
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • Bed: It was made in Vermont, but has no label and I bought it a long time ago from a store that was closing.
  • Lamp: Artemide from DWR, broken during a pillow fight and fixed with a hose clamp
  • Side table: Cambridge antique market
  • Knobs on side table: Anthropologie
  • Banjo: old beater
  • Felt message board: from Alphabet Signs, lyrics from “Home on the Range”
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


  • North America map: eBay
  • Silver fans: Restoration Hardware
  • Trunks: both from Brimfield antique market — the green one is metal painted to look like alligator skin.
  • Lux’s bunk bed: old IKEA, via Craigslist
  • Joan’s crib: IKEA
  • Shady Fox Selling Watches: woodcut by Brad Johnston
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

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Thanks, Rachael, Joe, Lux, and Joan!