An Old Schoolhouse Attic Is Now a Rustic Yet Modern 5th-Floor Walk-Up

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Credit: Brynna Lee
Nathaniel's grandmother's table and chairs from the '50s. This was her first big purchase right after getting married and it holds a special place in their hearts. It's solid cherry wood and we can fit a lot of people around it! It fits perfectly in this apartment with the matching wooden beams.

Name: Brynna Lee and spouse
Location: Danvers, Massachusetts
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 1,050 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months, renting

Credit: Brynna Lee
Our living space is centered around our big, very old coffee table. It welcomes lots of conversation and coffee stains. We thrifted this forever ago knowing it would serve us well. Whenever I find a new cool looking rock I will line it up with the others on the wall. I love to cultivate little collections of items that tell the story of our days.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Our home was recently renovated from an old schoolhouse attic into a rustic yet modern fifth floor walk-up! My husband and I moved in on June 1st with a very clear vision of what we wanted this space to become. We both love anything thrifted and vintage, so immediately we were looking at all the thrift shops (and Facebook marketplace posts) we could. Our home is almost completely furnished and decorated from thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sale finds, which makes it that much more special to us.

Credit: Brynna Lee
This little hallways separates the bedroom from the bathroom. We have our vintage map of Boston hanging up there and this was our very first purchase when we came to New England in 2017. We love the timelessness of this map. The chair is an also a thrifted vintage find and holds the changing seasonal florals that come and go.

Because our space is the old attic of a schoolhouse, the ceilings are very high, which makes the apartment feel so open and allows for sound to carry beautifully, which gets us singing and dancing all the time. Additionally, we get to have two huge sky lights that light up the entire apartment and open up easily to allow us to look out from the roof… pretty magical! One thing that we love most about this apartment is the perfect mix of modern and rustic. The designers left the old wooden beams and pipes, while refreshing the walls and windows with fresh paint and glass, getting that amazing mix of old and new that tells a story so effortlessly.

Credit: Brynna Lee
Our bedroom is also very airy, yet rustic. The other skylight is right above our bed and makes it real easy to wake up! We love the simple airiness of this room and it creates the perfect sense of calm. The art is thrifted and the florals change seasonally.

Is your identity reflected in your home (art, color palettes, accessories, etc)? Nathaniel and I both love to have our down/quiet time. With him being a past theology student and myself being a past English student, we love our books and retreating to a calm space to unwind. We don’t have a TV, so this is something that people first notice when coming into the space. Our living space was constructed in such a way that we wanted people to be facing one another, centered around the table, which always brings us together. Our living room is definitely pretty minimal and only really filled with things that tell a story, have a very special place in our heart (i.e. Nathaniel’s grandmother’s oil lamp, a “Creation of Adam’ cropped print, and thrifted items that we love).

Credit: Brynna Lee
Our thrifted "Creation of Adam" cropped print. This was a Goodwill steal! It really anchors the whole apartment and sets the tone for anyone who walks in. Throughout our home there is a theme of hands, which is a little strange but I just love the sculptural feel of human hands and how beautiful they are.

The main piece in our living room is a “Creation of Adam” cropped print that we thrifted. This art piece brings us so much peace every time we look at it and reminds us of the peace and love that God brings to us all, and that’s what we want our home to be centered around. Lastly, I (Brynna) love seeing collections of small items around one’s home that always beckons questions from visitors. I love to create vignettes of nature all around our space as we love to be outside and are both from the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and feel that these nature elements reflect that part of who we are. I am constantly gathering sticks, stones, and wood from the outdoors to decorate our home with. I love being outside and all the gifts that God has given us through nature, and I want that to be the main art that I decorate our home with.

Credit: Brynna Lee
This is our amazing deep-silled window in the kitchen. I use it as a space to create a "gallery of nature." It's always evolving. I love this window so much. I love watching the changing seasons through the window.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Curated, Danish, and rustic minimalist.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the living room. I love how it is flooded with light from sun up to sun down. I love that it’s minimal and my favorite plants and art print are the main focal points of the room. I love that all of the furniture in there was scored either on the side of the road, on Facebook marketplace, or at a thrift shop. I also love that the minute you enter it you have a sense of calm and peace because of the light and natural elements. It is always evolving and shifting through the seasons, too.

Credit: Brynna Lee
This is the chair that we found at the yard sale, the other is in our bedroom. The vintage stool was a Goodwill find that I immediately scooped up and fell in love with. It adds good texture and color to this minimal space. I love the mix of vintage and earth tones with the modern, cooler colored sofas.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing we found was a vintage mid-century wooden chair from a yard sale. We bought one of them (there was a pair) and walked away wishing we had bought both. Later that afternoon, we walked by the house that had the yard sale and everything they didn’t sell was on the side of the road for free. Lo and behold, the second chair was sitting out there! So we ended up bringing both home: one for the living room, one for the bedroom.

Credit: Brynna Lee
Our home is really centered around the light it lets in. I love that we wake in this huge array of light and can wake naturally, which was tough at first but we gradually got used to it and it's been good for us. I love the look and feel of linen and try to incorporate that as much as possible to give our space more of a natural/rustic feel mixed with the modern elements.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Don’t try to have everything complete and finished quickly! Good things take time. Only collect items you love and that help tell your story. Be mindful of how your home feels to you rather than how it looks. Beauty will be formed slowly but surely as you focus on the feeling it cultivates in you and your guests. Also, don’t be afraid to break rules!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.