Mark & Corissa's Contemporary Railroad Flat

Mark & Corissa's Contemporary Railroad Flat

Tanya Lacourse
Apr 22, 2010

Name: Mark & Corissa St. Laurent
Location: Downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 8 months — rented
Who else lives there: The elder statesmen and resident cat, Cole

Mark and Corissa live in a restored railroad flat in historic Portsmouth where they are walking distance from the state's thriving arts community, the ocean, and Maine's border. As newlyweds planning their move to Portsmouth, they decided to sell most of their furniture (read duplicate items) and start anew. They kept only what they couldn't live without and after finding this apartment, bought several new pieces of furniture to accommodate the space.

They picked this apartment not only for the location but also because of the beautiful interior. Most rental apartments aren't looked after with such care but this space is complete with historic moldings, polished hard wood floors, high ceilings, an updated kitchen with a soapstone breakfast bar, and lots of dimmable lighting. Not to mention, they have two parking spots outside their door and a large clean basement for storage.

The kitchen is painted a pale sage green and is furnished with mostly black, white and gray items with the exception of the red brick wall near the dining room. The dining room's color is accented by the deep red bookshelf and that color re-appears in the bedding and then again, as a complimentary orange variation in the living room.

These warm, bold colors are balanced with light oak floors, wooden ceiling beams, and several pieces of natural furniture. Even in the bathroom, the color palette remains consistent with a touch of orange added with the hand towel. These repeating colors make this space feel cohesive and give the space a natural flow from one end to the other.

They have downplayed the repeat of the square room by positioning a few key furniture items in the center rather than against walls and by placing furniture on different walls within each room. For example, the bed lives on a wall where there is little or no furniture in the other rooms. This gives each room a different feel.

A few of their DIY projects include adding the bird and tree decals, painting their kitchen closet door with chalkboard paint, and re-painting the kitchen cabinets.

Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our style: Mark: IKEA takes on West Elm in an epic duel to see who can best provide us with affordable, yet trendy modern comforts. The victor — TBD. Corissa: Modern and simple with a dash of whimsy from second hand, vintage, and found collectibles.

What is your greatest inspiration? Beautiful designs from nature that work so perfectly as art like peacock feathers, driftwood, coral and pussy willows.

Favorite Element: The openness.

Biggest Challenge: Mark: The layout. The front portion was built in 1850 and it runs in "train car" fashion from the front to back. We like this because you can see all the way through our home, but where can we occasionally hide from each other? Corissa: I agree with Mark, but my biggest challenge is that we don't own it. If we did, I would remodel it completely to overcome those challenges.

What Friend's Say:"Wow!" "Neat." "It's so cute!" "Beautiful!" "How much rent do you pay?" Most friends and family members think it's beautiful and cool, but you can tell the ones that aren't into the open concept idea.

Biggest Embarrassment: Mark: Our foul-mouthed ghost. Oh, and the kitchen lacks the slick and modern appliances that have become so sought-after. Nothing like steel to sharpen a kitchen's look, non? Corissa: The gross linoleum in the bathroom. Not dirty gross, but ugly gross.

Proudest DIY: Mark: I painted the cabinets a very glossy white in an effort to "modernize" them. Mission accomplished. Corissa: I think it would be Mark's decal applications. Those little branches and things can get tricky and he did an expert job without completely flipping out!

Biggest Indulgence: Mark: The couch. Since we lack a guest bedroom and harbor an innate hatred of pullout couches, we needed something friends could sleep on that would also function as a couch 99% of the time. West Elm to the rescue! Corissa: We've both moved a lot and love to travel, so we've kept things pretty minimal. A few things we love have stayed, we've bought some things we love that were relatively affordable, and we save the indulgences on travel. If and when we buy a house, we may start indulging a bit more in decorating the nest, but for now, we like being free as a bird.

Best Advice: Mark: If people are going to enter into your living room and walk through your bedroom to get to the kitchen — make them take off their shoes. Corissa: Surround yourself with things you love and have meaning to you.

Dream Source: I don't have one dream source. I like the simplicity and functionality of IKEA and the fun of finding things randomly at all sorts of shops, while traveling, and outside in nature.

Other Inspiration: Corissa: I was an Environmental Analysis & Design major, so I love space planning and am inspired by the art and philosophy of Feng Shui and Vastu. The energy and feel of a place is what it's all about to me. I'm also a sucker for decorating, design and DIY shows and I could watch them for hours!

Furniture: IKEA, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Abode, thrift/second hand

Rugs and Carpets: Home Goods

Beds: West Elm

Thanks, Mark & Corissa!

Images: Tanya Lacourse and Mark St. Laurent

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