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Posts from the ‘How We Live’ Category

How We Live: Sarah And David Cunningham

Sarah Cunningham of Walker-Cunningham Gallery, Newbury St., Boston, MA

It should come as no surprise that the owner of the fantastic Walker-Cunningham art gallery (which just happens to house the collection of one of my local favorites, Dora Atwater Millikin) has a beautifully-designed home.

Entry, open kitchen, seating area, high-top table for two.

Entry, open kitchen, seating area, high-top table for two.

What was surprising to me when I visited Sarah and David Cunningham’s home last week, though, was just how homey and laid-back the mid-century Sudbury house felt (I admit it: part of me assumes a gallery-owner would live in a white-walled box with one item per wall, straightened with a level hourly).

Color filled Kitchen

Color filled Kitchen

That’s exactly the goal the couple are trying to achieve. “We love how warm, inviting, and bright this house is,” Sarah says. “Hosting and entertaining for friends and family is very important to us, and this space is perfect for a gathering large or small; even though the house isn’t large (the 3 bedroom 2 bath is 1600 sq. ft.), we can still pack a crowd with ease thanks to the naturally open floor plan.”

Sarah Cunningham of Walker-Cunningham Gallery, Newbury St., Boston, MA

Maybe part of the reason this treasure trove of mid-century pieces and artworks—both from Sarah’s gallery and acquired during the family’s travels—manages to be both welcoming and well-designed is the integration of their stunning collection into their everyday lives.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Kid's Bedroom

Kid’s Bedroom

The Eames rocker, a wedding gift and a favorite of both David and Sarah’s, was where they rocked their 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter to sleep, and where they still sit down to read to them. DIY updates (achieved with ample help from Sarah’s father H. David Boocock, a master craftsman and builder) include new cork flooring and new cabinetry, but also windowseats to nestle into and a comfy dog bed, complete with slipcovers by Sarah’s mother. Great light through beautiful ribbon-style windows is amplified by the light, bright paint-job that Sarah and David undertook when they moved in, and which they say transformed the space from a dark “cave-like” space into its current, airy incarnation. Even their toilet-paper storage doubles as a work of art!

DIY Bathroom

DIY Bathroom

All the work has paid off for Sarah and David, who have definitely created the kind of space they were hoping for. “When we return after a trip or come home from work, it’s a refuge and a comfort to be home,” David and Sarah say. In their space, the old adage proves true: there’s no place like home.

Check out all the pictures we took at Sarah’s beautiful home on Facebook.


How We Live: Sean and Zach

In a perfect world, we would all find spaces ideally suited to our style, in our dream location, and – since we’re already engaging in some serious wishful thinking – with a rock-bottom price-tag. But Sean Litchfield and Zachary Violette’s intriguing Jamaica Plain apartment – just 400 square feet and loaded with potential stumbling blocks like a narrow entry hallway and occasionally odd angles – proves that creating a warm, welcoming, beautiful home isn’t about starting with the ideal canvas. It’s about transforming the space you have to reflect your tastes and fulfill your needs.

For Sean, a freelance photographer, and Zach, an architectural historian and PhD candidate, those needs include maximizing the small apartment’s space, since both of them often work from home, and getting the most out of their kitchen, since they enjoy cooking together. They’ve managed both with a series of ingenious workarounds, including loads of shelving and a willingness to wall-mount just about anything.

While their space may be limited, their funky style is anything but; their tastes range from Victorian ephemera to mid-century modern, with room for just about anything that strikes their fancy. Dedicated thrifters who are never above peeking into a dumpster, Sean and Zach have created a space that is personal, unique, and best of all, inexpensive. “We both have very specific tastes,” says Sean, “but neither of us would ever pay a premium for them. It’s both amazing and appalling what people throw away.”

Luckily, those peoples’ losses are Sean and Zach’s (and our!) gains. Take a peek at their own little cabinet of wonders (and if you like Sean and Zach’s unique style, swing by the store – we just happen to have a few pieces in stock right now that would fit perfectly into their one-of-a-kind space!) :

Sean & Zach - AmpersandVM How We Live

From the entrance to Sean and Zach’s 400 sqft. apartment, a wall lined with books leads all the way through to the window.

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Hallway

A sharp left leads into a hallway where Christmas tree lights illuminate a collection of vintage maps and Occupy Wall Street signs.

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Living Room 1

The tight quarters beg for storage solutions. This Mid-Century teak wall unit with desk helps fit two people into a small space. An additional, unique storage idea is the vintage suitcase beneath the coffee table. You can put anything inside, the hard case offers great protection, and best of all, you can tuck them in just about anywhere, since they make a great design element!

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Living Room 2

One “wow” moment in this space came when I saw the typewriters and paper cutters mounted to the wall. Such an original idea, and it really looks amazing. Check out our Facebook page where you can see the album in its entirety.

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Living Room 3

Living Room

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Bedroom
Sean & Zach’s cozy bedroom. Note the beautiful reuse of rustic windows.

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Kitchen
Views of the kitchen

Sean & Zach - How We Live - Kitchen
When you can’t spread out, spread up: it’s a great way to maximize a space’s potential!

Know someone in New England with an amazing space? Let us know about it by sending an e-mail to and it might be featured in a future installment of “How We Live!”

&VM’s “Better Half” Featured on Apartment Therapy!

apartment therapy logo

Of course, by “better half” I am referring to the beautiful, ginger-headed…REX!  Haha, I’m kidding! He is adorable, but I would really like to direct your attention to the lovely home he shares with his mamas, Clytie & Claudia.

apartment therapy clytie ampersand

After viewing this Apartment Therapy house tour, it will come as no surprise why I had to be patted down and my bag searched the first few times I hung out at Clytie’s place–there are SO many interesting and cool objects and vintage goodness around every corner!!! Starting Ampersand Vintage Modern was kind of a no brainer.

Enjoy! And let her know what you think! 

&VM’s very own featured on Apartment Therapy’s House Tours!

Apartment Therapy

Good Morning, Amperfans! In case you missed it, our very own Andy Crepeau and his husband had their home featured on Apartment Therapy yesterday! We both care a great deal about creating an interesting, yet comfortable living space, so we are over the moon and couldn’t be prouder. Check out the vintage modern awesomeness here:

Andy and Andrew’s Apartment Therapy House Tour!

How We Live: New Year’s Eve

Happy 2012, everyone!

We had the pleasure of ringing in the New Year at our friends’ Katie & Alice’s home the other night. It was lovely. They are the consummate hostesses. The night was filled with a perfect blend of great food, drinks, music, and company. Everything was made even more warm and inviting due to the exquisite way they decorated for the party.

They live in a beautiful, old Victorian house near Union Square in Somerville, MA.

countdown entryway

When we arrived, the brick pathway to their front door was lined with paper bag lanterns that counted down from 10 to 1. Very clever!

setting the table

Katie and Alice are both fabulous cooks--look at this spread! There were an assortment of delicious dips, puff pastry, and other mouth-watering finger-foods.

festive garland and tablescape

Instead of a tree that would take up too much room in their cozy apartment, they have opted for a festive garland of pine to frame the windows with greenery and light.

potent punch and stemware

The punch bowl and champagne flutes were displayed on a vintage sideboard covered with mirrored tiles. The white tree cut-outs, tiny lights, and candles provided just the right amount of shimmer.

grouping of art above mantel

The entire living and dining room space was washed in the soft, warm glow of candlelight. Above the mantel, an original Shepard Fairey print hangs beside a mixed media collage, as well as a sculptural, wire frame piece designed and created by Katie.

delicious truffles

An enticing plate of homemade chocolate truffles sits on a side table.


A little sparkle by the cheese board never hurts.

It was such a fun night! (Maybe, a little too much fun for me.) We really are lucky to have such creative and stylish friends. They are a constant source of inspiration! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into Katie and Alice’s place. I plan to feature their whole apartment in a future edition of “How We Live.”

Happy New Year!!!

Mixing and Mingling

How We Live (she said)

My identical twin sister and I bought a two-family home three years ago. We call it the twinplex, because there’s twin 1 (me) on the first floor and twin 2 (the sister) on the second floor. Also, both levels share a nearly identical floor plan.

We had been looking for a while, and I was becoming discouraged. I never thought we’d find something we’d both like. She had come back to the listing multiple times–drawn in by the pink ’50s bathroom tile. As for me, I love period details and the vintage stuff, but pink trumps all in the dislike category.  My sister kept saying she had a really good feeling about the place; she knew that it was our home. I just sighed and told her to go look at it. If she loved it, I would go with her for a second viewing.  Needless to say, she loved it. When I went to look at it, she warned me that while the second floor was lovely, the first floor was…interesting. Interesting, because it was obvious that a hoarder lived there. The three things I remember most were: how dark it was, that I couldn’t even get into the closets, and that there was a cat box in every room, but not a single cat (that I could see anyway). Thank god for the second floor and the beautiful backyard I viewed at sunset. As the closing date arrived, we did a final walk through. The closets were even bigger than the second floor which was great news but there was a hole in the kitchen floor and a hole in the wall of what would become my office. We had our work cut out for us.

Fortunately, I had just started dating a landscape architect and RISD grad who truly opened my eyes to a whole new world of design.  I must attribute the curated-like beauty of my home, and the design aesthetic I developed in the course of the relationship, to this brilliant person.  I truly believe that this was the second biggest milestone/experience that I needed to push me towards this new endeavor in my life. If you missed my first, you can read about it here. My home is now a mix of reclaimed barn pieces, mid-century love, vintage wares, and industrial accents.  My photos are more of my favorite objects and accent pieces and less of my furniture, due to the inventory that packs my house at the moment–I really am living and breathing &VM 24/7! So, without further ado, this is how I live…

When I walk into my home, I’m greeted by both of my grandfathers. They are tucked away on the beautifully caned bottom shelf of a mid-century side table I found at an antiques market.  The glass containers are from my grandfather’s hardware store and the duck decoy dates back to my other grandfather’s hunting days. I love that they sit together…

vintage duck decoy and vintage glass hardware store container

Sitting above this in the entry is another reminder of my grandfather and  my father. The flag is from the the 12-Meter racing yacht, Enterprise, the 27th contender built for the prestigious America’s Cup. My father and grandfather built this boat as a contender to another 12-meter that they built, Courageous, that went on to win the Cup the year I was born. I found the C in an old building I was doing some environmental monitoring in for my “pay-the-bills” job.

vintage letter C and 12-Meter Sailboat Enterprise flag 27

To round out the sailing history, here is a cut-aluminum, skeleton model my father made of one of the 12-Meters. It hangs from my back porch and is just wonderful to look at…

aluminum 12-meter model sun behind
aluminum 12-meter model up close

From the entry way, you turn directly into my living room. Displayed on a window sill, is this early ’70s seagull from the late Cape Cod artisan, Susan Davis. The brown glassware held chemicals from my grandfather’s photo developing days.  The opposite corner of the window holds a vintage crab meat can from my great, great uncle Herb’s crab meat packing plant in Maryland, called Sadler’s Crab Meat. The can holds old paint stirrers sold at my great grandfather’s hardware store, Sadler’s Hardware. Who knows, had Andy not decided to join me on this adventure I probably would have called it Sadler’s Vintage Stuff!

Susan Davis Seagull and brown chemical bottles
vintage Sadler's Crab Meat can and vintage Sadler's Hardware paint stir
Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of things from the natural world during geology trips or regular old hikes.  Finding a way to integrate them with other found objects in my home has proven to be quite fun. You will find all sorts of rocks, corals that were washed ashore, and an old rotted out cactus mixed in everywhere…

metamorphic rock with coral on a vintage scale

cactus globe and industrial green medical cabinet

coral on display
My favorite room in the house has to be my butler’s pantry. I love how the white shelves pop against the Chelsea grey walls which makes for the perfect spot to place brightly colored accents!

yellow owl trivet, vintage Skat can and a collection of vintage matchbooks

Ampersand with Pyrex mugs

These photos are a sneak peak into how I live. You can browse the entire collection, including more photos from my backyard, dining room, bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, in the How We Live (She Said) photo album on our Facebook page!

How We Live (he said)

Whenever I find a design blog or website that I like, I am always drawn to the house tours of real people’s homes and apartments. There’s something about seeing the way creative, artistic, and design-oriented individuals live and decorate their spaces that’s part inspiring and part voyeuristic. My own style is constantly evolving, so it’s interesting for me to see how others approach decorating and design, and borrow ideas to keep things fresh.

As Clytie and I were first coming up with the concept for this blog, we knew that we wanted to feature images of our own homes. Not only because of our mutual admiration of each other’s design aesthetic, but also to lend a certain credibility to our focus and mission in starting Ampersand Vintage Modern. We sell what we love. Without trying to sound too much like a Ralph Lauren ad, our merchandise evokes not only a vintage, industrial, modern feel, but a lifestyle.

In establishing this “How We Live” section of the blog, we plan to feature our spaces, as well as friends, designers, artists, and creative folk who share a similar and/or unique point-of-view. So, without further ado, this is how we live…

Andrew and I moved into this apartment in Somerville about three and a half years ago. It’s a large space that’s part of a classic, three-family that was built in the early 1900s. We were immediately drawn to the high ceilings, wide pine floors, and period details. It was our first place together, and we got married in the backyard.

When you first step foot into our apartment, you’re in the dining room. Directly opposite the front door is a Danish modern teak chifforobe–the first piece I ever bought at an auction. The “Keep Calm…” poster has become pretty ubiquitous, but we still love it. The orangey-red is very welcoming.

We like to decorate with things that are not only interesting to look at, but also have some meaning or significance to us. We have a lot of friends who are artists and work in the design world. It’s nice to reap the benefits of their amazing creativity. This glow house lamp was made by our friend, Katherine Elliott.

Andrew is a terrific cook, and we like to entertain, so our dining room has seen a lot of action. We chose our table and chairs accordingly. We wanted a table that could seat ten and we wouldn’t be afraid to spill wine on. Likewise, we wanted chairs that you could sit in for hours and still be comfortable. The table is IKEA and the chairs are vintage Eames.

The “hose monster” centerpiece was a window display from a jewelery store in the South End. The rock is from a recent GeoTour in Marblehead.

Two things there isn’t a shortage of in our apartment: books and maps/globes.

The side chairs in our living room were a Craigslist find, probably thanks to Keyse at Crocodile Tears. The new cushions were a wedding gift from my mother-in-law.

Like I said: books and globes! The antique mirror on the mantle belonged to Andrew’s great-grandmother, and the small framed photo is an elementary school photo of my mom. Andrew “borrowed” the oar from the boat house at Silver Bay where he worked a few summers in upstate New York. Joel Green made the awesome bomb lamp.

Our bedroom is the only room where we painted the walls: Benjamin Moore, Lido Green. Our dresser is vintage Russel Wright for Conant Ball, and the framed Vitra poster (it’s a little crooked) depicts the entire Eames collection in silhouettes. You might recognize the Aalto chair that was recently re-covered at upholstery camp.

Off the bedroom, and between the dining room and kitchen, there is a strange, pass through we call the “half room”. It presented us with the greatest decorating challenge, because of it’s strange location and shape. It’s not big enough for a bed, and since there aren’t any windows and it doesn’t get much light, it would be depressing to spend any amount of time in there. So, we decided to use it as closet space. (You can kind of see it in the dining room photo above.) A friend noticed this vintage coat rack at a local thrift store. It’s one of those wooden racks that you’d find in an old school or church hall. It’s on wheels and has hooks on both sides. Since none of the closets came with hanger rods, it’s perfect for hanging our button-down shirts–mine on one side, Andrew’s on the other.

This vintage secretary bookcase is from the same Danish modern auction as the piece in the dining room. I really like the look of open storage in a kitchen, and this does the trick for displaying cookbooks and our colorful collection of vintage Pyrex. It’s a large piece of furniture that you wouldn’t normally find in a kitchen, but it does wonders for warming up an otherwise cold, generic space in a rental.

We totally lucked out finding a place with a huge outdoor living area. Off the kitchen is a large patio where we can grill and entertain. Andrew loves to garden, so there are raised beds off to the side and pots filled with herbs and succulents scattered everywhere. The backyard was an overgrown mess when we moved in, but with a lot of friend-power we were able to clean it up in a weekend.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the tour of my home and the first edition of “How We Live.” Stay tuned for more, and please feel free to leave some comments!

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