When a Millenial goes Colonial: Apartment Living in a 300 Year old Newport Home

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This past summer, in between working on stories about people and places in Newport for Puddingstone Post, I had the chance to photograph my own apartment for an article written by editor¬†Meg O’Neill.¬†Although my¬†attempt to remain an objective photographer for this one failed spectacularly, the project evolved into a¬†loving¬†documentation of the place that has been at the center of my¬†life for most of my 20s, so I thought I’d share¬†some photos if you’d like to see.

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Aesthetically, my apartment,¬†which occupies the upper¬†floors¬†of a 300 year old colonial house in the Point neighborhood of Newport, is a steady experiment that will never really be finished.¬†Every¬†corner¬†has fallen together slowly – many a morning coffee was had¬†while contemplating¬†the light and the feel of each¬†room.¬†Over many years, I got to know the house and my own routine within it, buying or changing things only when I felt I¬†knew what the house truly needed.¬†I mixed family heirlooms with pieces gleaned from travels abroad, or my neighbor’s trash pile¬†dressed with a¬†fresh coat of paint.¬†Ever conscious that I was working in a very traditional space, I opted for white on the walls,¬†and¬†a few choice¬†modern pieces, to keep things from looking too frozen in time.¬†

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Psychologically, my relationship to¬†this space is¬†not so easy to describe. In all seriousness,¬†I’m turning¬†3o¬†next week and¬†I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the last decade of my life.¬†I don’t think I would have¬†grown into the person I am¬†without¬†the steadfast, welcoming walls of this dwelling place. It has been my anchor and my creative bubble, it has been light-filled and cheerful even when I have not, it has stood by¬†patiently when¬†I have left it¬†to explore the world, and it has held me through raging hurricanes, tearful breakups and the mind-boggling pain of chronic illness. Yet, despite the years that I have filled the house with¬†friends, roommates, lovers¬†and pets, our time together is no more than a blip on its long history.¬†

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I recently heard¬†something intriguing on NPR (I wish I could remember what story it was a part of, please tell me if you know!): ¬†we frequently talk¬†of¬†the ephemerality of objects. Yet, if you consider that good design and well-made structures have the¬†tendency¬†to persist beyond our lifetimes, then in¬†a¬†sense, we¬†are the ephemeral ones.¬†We barrel into¬†the quiet lives of these houses¬†and¬†these things, and then¬†one day we leave them sitting and¬†waiting for their next occupants or possessors. I rather love this idea. Here I’ve been thinking that this space was mine these past 7 years, when really, I have¬†been¬†its guest all along.

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If I can share¬†one piece of homemaking advice, which I read somewhere once, to anyone¬†kind¬†enough to have made it¬†this far, it is¬†to¬†take the time to truly know your space before you¬†do anything.¬†There¬†is a¬†bottomless rabbit hole¬†in space-making today: pinterest, home decor stores, magazines, and blogs (this¬†one¬†included),¬†offer a limitless¬†blue sky for the imagination to ponder,¬†but you¬†shouldn’t¬†lose sight of the space that you actually have. For example,¬†drooling over sparely furnished¬†Swedish apartments with soaring, 20-foot ceilings is something of a pastime for me, but what works in those spaces¬†does¬†not necessarily translate to the more intimate proportions of a New England colonial. Embrace ¬†your reality and its inherent parameters, such as budget, regional¬†history, sustainability, and the quirks of your home: they will help you wade through endless¬†possibility and hone in on a design¬†that makes sense for your life, while honoring the space¬†in which you are, for a time,¬†a guest.

Tiny villages made of birch

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Working on a series of New Years notecards inspired by friendly neighbors, winters in the north, and the myriad of colors that exist within the layers of birch bark. Since each one is unique, I figured I better document them before they make their way to friends across the globe.

 

Ms. Duke Will Not Be Home for Christmas: December at Rough Point

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2016 has been a year of many exciting projects and collaborations, most of which I am very behind in sharing, but among my favorite images are the ones I was able to take for the¬†Newport Restoration Foundation this Christmas. Rough Point, the seaside estate of tobacco heiress Doris Duke, has been¬†curated for the holidays the way it would have actually looked during Ms. Duke’s lifetime: shuttered for the winter, as Doris spent¬†Christmas¬†at Shangri La, her house in Hawaii. Rough Point’s¬†sole occupants would have been her staff, thus the staff wing¬†has been decorated to reflect their own holiday celebration. I found the interior spaces, draped with white sheets, rather eerily inspiring, and thought I’d share.

There’s still time to check out this exhibit, entitled “Undecked Halls,” which will be open for the last viewing on December 27th, 2016.

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My abode, post Konmari tidying

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Photos from my recent article for¬†Puddingstone Post,¬†in which¬†I reflected on¬†my experience following the advice of Marie Kondo, author of¬†The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you’re interested, you can read the piece¬†here.

Sarah

My friend Sarah is an artist and wood worker in her second year at IYRS (the International Yacht Restoration School) who possesses an exacting eye and a wonderfully lighthearted design sensibility. ¬†I don’t know how else to describe her work: everything she makes is just so HAPPY, but with enough subtlety that it doesn’t become too cute. ¬† Her craftsmanship, perfectionism and attention to detail imbues each piece she makes with a quiet elegance, something that has made her work stand out since our days in the art department at Brown.

I’m always inspired by people who learn through an immersive experience, perhaps because this is how I most enjoy learning as well. ¬†Sarah literally lives and breaths the life of a woodworker, and you can tell how much she is getting out of the program because of it. ¬†She even served me grilled salmon the other night which was flavored by cedar scraps rescued from the shop! ¬†Here are some photos from a little shoot we did this weekend, which includes the chair she made for her summer project and drawings of the shelves that she designed and built for a coffee shop in DC. ¬†I am dying to have her make one for my apartment some day- they remind me of the Life Aquatic, I think because of the bubbly corners. ¬†I am also obsessed with her tools, some of which she made (like the backing out plane with an inlaid heart and the brass bevel gauge) in her first few months at school.

To inquire about custom furniture work, email Sarah at sarahannegoldstein@gmail.com