Lara’s Tucked-Away Creative Haven

published Sep 9, 2015
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Name: Lara Linn
Location: Newport, Rhode Island
Size: 320 square feet
Years lived in: 4 months; Rented

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Lara knew it was time to find a space outside of her Warm, Welcoming Newport Apartment to tackle her many creative projects when she found herself surrounded by over 300 marshmallows in her small one-bedroom home. She was using them to construct a whimsical curtain for a winter white event, and they took over the counters, floors, and even her bed for two weeks.

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Lara stands in the doorway of her small creative workspace. (Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

By April, Lara was moving into a studio in a sweet little off-the-beaten-path spot just blocks from her home. Her studio is located at the end of an alley off of Newport’s famed Bellevue Avenue. Next door are a digital advertising agency and the office of an architect and landscape designer. “There are three of us who moved in roughly around the same time, and we are all in the process of crafting our space and environment. The alley has definitely gone from where the dumpster lived to a real creative nook and a sweet spot to hang out with friends and neighbors,” Lara says.

Lara wanted her new workspace to feel like an extension of her home, which is decorated in soothing colors and soft textiles like velvet and faux fur. “It needed a living room feel to it… yet nothing too dainty,” she explains. “I don’t like precious furnishings.” Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with light. Sheer white curtains and strands of warm, twinkling lights keep the space feeling soft and airy. Inspired to create “a sense of being in mist,” Lara is in the process of sponge painting a very pale sage color on parts of the wall in the front room.

Nothing makes a place feel more like a home than food. That’s why part of the back room is set up as a kitchen, where Lara uses a hot plate to make her family recipes for hearty soups like lentil or kale and white bean. If a magenta flag is flying outside the studio, her friends know to stop by for a bite to eat. Lara explains, “Magenta was the color that was closest to the word ‘mangia’, the Italian word for ‘eat’, so when friends see the magenta flag, they should think ‘mangia’.”

In addition to stopping by to say hello or to grab a bite to eat, friends are invited to join Lara for what she calls a “Creative Time Out.” If they have a project they are working on and need a place to escape the noise of everyday life, they join Lara in what she likens to the adult version of parallel play. They put their cell phones away and focus on the task at hand. “As adults, I don’t think we have enough opportunities for this,” Lara says, “so I have created a space for it… complete with sangria.”

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Living Room Meets Workshop

Inspiration: For an event in February, I made a marshmallow curtain using fishing line and about 300 marshmallows. I constructed this in my home apartment, where, in order to let the marshmallows harden, I had to lay them out on my floors, counter tops, and on baking sheets so that I could move them on and off my bed. After two weeks of that, I realized I needed a separate space! I wanted a place that felt like an extension of my home but was also a place to work on projects. When I saw this studio, it was just perfect, complete with a dividing wall that separates my cooking portion from the front work stations.

Favorite Element: My space is on a little hidden alley off of the main street. My friends know when I am here because I hang a flag when I am in. (I hang a second flag when I have soup cooking!) They can stop in for a visit, for soup, or a CTO- a Creative Time Out. It brings me great joy when a friend stops in with a project that they want to work on, or book they want to read, but they get too distracted by their own home environment/life to get into it, so they come here. We don’t chat, because then that would be a visit. I do take their cell phones away and put them in my pocket! It’s literally a Time Out. I think in preschool, they refer to this as “parallel playing.”

Biggest Challenge: The bathroom. I have been wanting to create a room that feels like you are in a Moroccan tent. I thought I would experiment with this bathroom, which is small and a bit boring. The problem I ran into was that it was not feasible to have fabric hanging from any of the walls. So I decided to use paint to emulate the feel. It is not there yet. It’s my current Work-In-Progress.

What Friends Say: “Your place feels like those hidden spots you stumble upon while walking through SoHo.”

Biggest Embarrassment: Everywhere I have had to drill a hole in order to hang something, there’s another hole about 1/4 inch to the side of it. That rule “measure twice, cut once” doesn’t seem to work for me when I am putting holes in the wall.

Proudest DIY: The furry wall that covers the glass door on the wall that divides my neighbor’s space and mine. His desk is on the other side of it and we could hear everything the other was saying. I knew I needed to find a solution and I wanted to do it immediately. So I looked around to see what was available that would also be interesting. I had just bought a new mattress so I had an egg carton mattress foam pad I was getting rid of. I cut that to fit the size of the door and stapled it to the frame. Next I took 3 of the faux fur throw rugs I was planning to use as… rugs… and I stapled those on top. Next I nailed wood from old picket fences to frame it all out and finished it off with a strand of white fairy lights from a local hardware store. I no longer hear my neighbor and I now have a furry pet that I don’t need to walk twice a day.

Biggest Indulgence: My 1963 Morris Minor 1000.

Best Advice: My grandmother will always say: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I realize that now when I need something for the studio; my first thought is, “What do I have that I can use to create this solution?” I like that. It keeps things creative and interesting.

Dream Sources: I would love to drive cross-country again. This time in a bigger truck and hit all the yard sales, antique shops, and farms that are replacing some furnishings.


(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)


  • All walls: Benjamin Moore White
  • All outlets: Rust-oleum Chrome spray paint
  • Front room: I have started to paint the wall behind the tufted loveseat with Behr Country Mist. I am sponging it on in random spots to create a slight feel of being in a cloud.
  • Bathroom stripes: Ralph Lauren Persimmon (metallic), Ralph Lauren Garden Twilight (metallic), Behr Empress Blue (matte)
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)


  • Shoe rack: hardware store, spray painted Chrome
  • Painting: local artist Willie St. James
  • Four-drawer dresser: NYC Flea Market
  • Robin’s nest ring dish: I made it in pottery.
  • My pet fur wall: I created it using throw rugs from HomeGoods, wood from picket fencing, and fairy lights from local hardware store
  • Velvet storage bench: HomeGoods
  • Frames, windows, misc. wood findings: flea markets and curbside treasures
  • Loveseat with nail-head trim: HomeGoods
  • Pillows: HomeGoods
  • Blanket: is actually a body pillow cover from Target
  • Gold storage crate: curbside treasure I then embellished with variety of purple paints and polyurethane
  • White Rock wooden crate: Brimfield Antique Market
  • Silver trash can: is actually a planter from HomeGoods
  • Vanity mirror: NYC Flea Market, bought for my very first apartment- I have since sanded it to its current state
  • Stool with nail-head trim: HomeGoods
  • Writing desk: Brimfield Antique Market- I needed to raise the desk so it now sits on a section of a wooden fence draped in a gray throw rug from HomeGoods and a purple faux fur throw from Ikea. I dyed the rug using Rit clothing dye.
  • Birch necklace racks: I created them from birch wood I found.
  • Mala-inspired beaded necklaces: I created them using material from various sources.
  • Chandelier: West Elm
  • Curtains: Ikea
  • Bookshelf: Long Island, NY, antique store
  • Sea-foam sitting cube: HomeGoods
  • Mirrors: HomeGoods- I sponge painted one frame with various white paints.
  • Tibetan wooden side table: Gustave White auction
  • Tufted loveseat: HomeDecorators
  • Wooden columns: New Paltz Antique Market
  • Steamer trunk coffee table: The trunk was given to me by a friend- it was her grandmother’s. I added wheels to one side to create a movable coffee table/storage trunk.
  • Brown nesting end tables: HomeGoods
  • Turquoise and gold glass bowl: HomeGoods
  • Amethyst crystal on pillow: I bought the crystal in South Dakota while on a cross-country trip; I sewed the pillow from some scraps of material and filled it with flax seeds.
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)


  • Table: Long Island, NY, antique store
  • Window: glass window frame curbside treasure from when neighbor was replacing their home windows, strung with lights from local hardware store
  • Wall sea urchins: Target
  • Birch wood and trees: curbside treasures, Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Silver storage seat: Ikea, spray painted Chrome
  • Blue wardrobe unit: bought from a friend in Venice, CA
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)


  • Kitchen counter: I bought a used door from a friend and propped it on a fridge/freezer, then added a storage shelf from my great-grandmother and one I picked up from a local hardware store.
  • Mini fridge and freezer: Home Depot- it was important for me to have a larger-sized freezer. When I am working, I like to make soups and invite everyone over.
  • Kitchen appliances: Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Large soup pot: Boston thrift store
  • Shelf for glasses: Ikea
  • Salt and pepper pinch pot sets: I create them in pottery, using recycled wood
  • Spice rack: I made it out of found birch wood and picket fencing
  • Napkin box: It’s an old 45 record holder I purchased from a Boston antique market
  • Dubl Handi washboard: It was my great-grandmother’s that she actually used into her 100s!
  • Silverware containers: Farm to Table oatmeal canisters- the oatmeal is organic and it is the best! Plus, the 1st edition canisters make great silverware holders.
  • Pottery: a mixture of things I have collected and things I have made
  • Storage cubes: local hardware store
  • Glass door with moveable pane: curbside treasure
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)


  • Curtain: Ikea, embellished with ribbons from Michaels
  • Copper Moroccan lantern string lights: One Stop Hardware, Newport, RI
  • Wooden boxes: various antique markets
  • Strainer: Marshall’s
  • Copper mirrors: HomeGoods
  • Wall crystal decals: Michaels
  • Framed picture: a postcard I picked up in Paris, France
  • Towel holders: drawer pulls from Ikea that I mounted onto picket fence tops and secured to the wall
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)


  • Cooler/storage seating crate: HomeGoods
  • Planters: Home Depot
  • 1963 Morris Minor 1000: purchased from a private owner in RI
  • Flags: BestFlag
  • Flag pole: Home Depot- I painted it to match the flags and then applied polyurethane.

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Thanks, Lara!