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Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

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.


Once Upon a Time…


It was New Year’s Eve. I decided to go low-key and have a quiet, local dinner with friends when I met my future wife. We had lots in common and formed an instant bond. It was one of the most laid-back, easy, but fun New Years Eves  I’ve ever had. After the stressful year I’d experienced, the evening was just what the doctor ordered. It would be two years until we hung out again –though we did mysteriously manage to cross paths several times, as if fate was on our side. Flash forward to Summer, 2011. We both found ourselves single, reconnected, and began dating.  Coincidentally, we were both taking huge risks to do what we loved: the two of us had jumped ship from the corporate world. Me, to begin Ampersand, and her to devote time to creative writing and to begin an MFA program. We were two creative peas in a pod.


There’s that old saying, “When you know. You know.” And after dating only a year, we knew. We  shared the news of our engagement with our parents. They were supportive and overjoyed. We couldn’t wait for our two families to finally meet. It turns out, they were so similar and welcoming to one another, that it only solidified where our relationship was headed. Working with our friend, the very talented graphic designer Jess Robash we created a post card save-the-date that would announce our good news .

Once the save-the-dates were out, we all put our heads together again to produce a formal invitation and RSVP card. We wanted a simple, classic look that was as formal as it was fun. As for our actual wedding and reception, we knew we wanted  a DIY vintage-themed celebration that would also incorporate elements from my soon-to-be wife’s love of books and writing. Our decor was personal and 100% of it was homemade–whether made in our basement, spare bedroom, or driveway. Each decorative element was a labor of love and each piece from the string orbs that hung as ceiling decorations to the framed “author bios” that marked each table was a melding of our two lives and personalities. We worked with our talented friend, Elaine Frei, founder of Urban Soiree Chicago to assist with developing the concept, layout and the day-of planning and coordination.

On an overcast, but otherwise lovely day in late September, 80 of our closest friends and family members gathered together to watch us get hitched. Love was most definitely in the air and as the guests arrived, we felt intensely grateful and calmed by the support and presence of  people from different chapters of both of our lives. Everyone gathered together to send us off into the next phase. Let the nuptials begin!


September 29, 2012, marked the beginning of our two families becoming one.


The exchange of vows (and rings) was brief, but meaningful. We wrote our own vows and were married by my former business partner and good friend, Andy Crepeau who pronounced us married by the power of Castle Grayskull and also, the State. Why am I screaming in the picture above you ask? Because my wife stepped on my toe with her stiletto heel. Nice job, wife. J/K. I don’t even remember screaming, but I do remember exclaiming “Thank You,” to everyone before I screamed.  I know. I’m a weirdo, but I was excited.


Now it’s time to talk flowers. We worked with our friend, Jennifer Allen owner of MaRKet,  a small lifestyle boutique that specializes in both vintage & modern home furnishings, interior design, and offers floral design as one of its services. Jenn has a knack for flowers, she’s been arranging them since high school.

Paper Wedding Boutonniere - Posh Studios

I wanted to surprise my wife with this paper wedding boutonniere by Posh Studios. Cassie’s work is amazing and I wanted my boutonniere to have a connection my wife and be a keepsake. Cassie was great to work with, I sent her a picture of my shirt so she could match the color and explained that she was a writer and asked that the paper have type. I think she did an excellent job.


Picking out the ring is ALWAYS a nerve wracking experience. The ring is going to be on your partner’s hand for the rest of their life. No pressure. To make a long story short, picking out my wife’s ring was something I put off for a long time. She kept saying to me, “You’ll know, I trust you” and on the inside I was a wee bit nervous. She was right, though. I stopped into Cambridge Antique Market, spotting what I was certain would be her ring. The next day I tricked her into coming back with me to take a look. We stopped in, I casually was like, “Hey, just take a look so I can get an idea of what you’d like.” She agreed and of the dozens of rings in the case, she immediately commented on how beautiful this ring was. I asked if she wanted to try it on and believe it or not, the ring fit. Perfectly. Did either of us know her ring size before she tried it on? Miraculously, no. For me, the ring picking experience was excellent and lasted all of five minutes. Don’t be jealous.

For my ring I wanted something simple since I work with my hands all the time but I didn’t want it to be a plain boring band. I came across Adzia‘s custom fingerprint engagement and wedding bands and instantly knew that’s what I wanted. My wife’s fingerprint is engraved both inside and outside. The inside is what feels the most special to  me.


Then the party began. We entertained our guests with yard games and music. My wife’s sister is a musician and introduced us to the Brazilian Jazz band, The Jerrod Cattey Trio. They were the perfect match for our cocktail hour. We both love jazz and they brought that perfect, breezy Latin sound that was an important element to my wife who is from Central America.

We did a few passed hors d’oeuvres and watered our guests with wine and kegs of our favorite craft beer supplied by our local favorite, The Craft Beer Cellar.


Then the night fell, dinner was served under the big top…


My wife’s sister made a simple but amazing cheesecake for our wedding cake and our guests enjoyed individually plated strawberry shortcakes, my wife’s family favorite. The cake toppers were custom made by LavaGifts since they didn’t currently have the pink ones in stock. It was on short notice and they turned it around in no time.


What’s with the saw you ask? We like magic tricks. No, no. It’s a German tradition called, Baumstamm Sägen, “log sawing.” It represents a married couple’s first difficult task together. You’re supposed to have a nice small log but oh no, not us. My wife’s father is an arborist and special ordered a beautiful silver birch for this special occasion. He also called in several favors to get the beautiful antique logging saw pictured above. I think he likes me. With both our fathers holding the log, the crowd breaking into an impromptu chant of “saw that log”, and my serious attempt to stretch it out while they reset the log helped us get through it. It takes a village to saw that log apparently.

I’ve mentioned on the blog that I love to dance so this part of the night was one I was really looking forward to. We had worked sooooo hard to pull this off and it was finally time to cut loose! My wife used to be a music critic and she tasked herself with finding the DJ. We wanted to find someone that could blend our love of old school tunes and the contemporary with the aim of having the dance floor packed the whole night. There was just one rule, no cheesy traditional wedding songs. My wife knew DJ Monster Carl and just said, “trust me.”  One word, WOW. You can see from the pictures that it was pretty rocking and I wasn’t even on the dance floor the whole night but one thing I remember was the amazing energy on the floor, the smiles on everyone’s face, and at least five times where people were down on their knees and shakin’ what the good lord gave ’em.

It was so hard to narrow down the pictures to a select few because the pictures from this part of the night are truly epic.

It was so hard to narrow down the pictures to a select few because the pictures from this part of the night are truly epic.

…and the outtakes. Go ahead and laugh at us, we did.

Vintage Wedding Outtakes Vintage Wedding Outtakes

This story would not be possible without the amazing skillz, yes with a “z”, of Zac Wolf. Actually, he made this story hard to tell because his photography was amazing and narrowing the photographs down to tell this story was quite hard. Check out all of his amazing work here at Zac Wolf Photography. He also provided us with a bit of danger, The Danger Booth that is. Our guest got to pose the night away in the photo booth and he handed us a thumb drive with the nights antics before he left for the night. It was a lot of fun looking at all the fantastic pictures the next morning.

Danger Booth Zac Wolf Photography

D.I.Y. Project: Paper Christmas Tree Garland from Vintage Books

Paper Garland Made from Vintage Books

Decorate your Christmas tree with this great DIY paper garland made from vintage book paper.

Here at the Ampersand headquarters, i.e. mi casa, we finally got our Christmas tree up and I had the idea to recycle the paper garlands from my wedding around the house. I’m lucky enough to be friends with  the talented Elaine Frei, owner of Urban Soriee Chicago. Elaine originally made these paper garlands from vintage books for my wedding. I know, some of you are still waiting for the wedding posts, fear not, you’ll get our first installments in January! Anyway, I thought I’d share how reusing the garland turned out and I must say, I’m quite pleased, it really added a nice rustic touch to the tree.

To assemble these garlands, you’ll need just a few items, some of you crafters may already have them lying around the house, but for those of you who don’t, they can be easily procured at your local craft-store.

DIY tools for paper garland for the Christmas tree made from vintage books

Ingredients and Implements of Construction

  1. Glue gun.
  2. A generous supply of glue gun sticks.
  3. Books you’ve already read and are willing to sacrifice the pages of.
  4. Scissors
  5. Twine or string, crafter’s choice.
  6. Large paper punch

This is a very easy DIY project that has many variations to it so you could customize this project to fit your needs, I’ll follow up the instructions with a few of these alternate design ideas. Just follow the simple steps below, complete with accompanying photography.

Some helpful hints:

  1. Before you start this project make sure you leave 6″ to 12″ of extra string on each end of your garland so that it’s easier to work with when you go to hang it or tie it off. We cut our garland strings to a manageable 9 feet. You can always trim the excess string down after you’ve done what you need to.
  2. Plan the number of discs you’ll need. At 9 feet, each garland string took about 15 staggered  paper discs. Remember to double this number because each circle is constructed from two paper discs. The paper punch allows you to punch everything you need rather quickly.
  3. Plan the pattern out that you’d like to achieve. When you start gluing you’ll be working quickly and it could get messy if you’re not used to using a glue gun. The more organized you are, the smoother the gluing will go. Our garlands are staggered in sets of two and three discs at a time. See the pictures below for an example of that.

Some assembly required:

DIY Christmas Paper Garland

  1. You’ve calculated the number of discs you need for your maiden voyage and it’s time to punch the circles. You can punch multiple sheets at a time– I did five at once so that the punch operated smoothly. Place the sheets in the paper punch.
  2. Position the paper punch to get the coverage you want. You may want some discs to have a border and some you may want to be completely covered in print, mix it up.
  3. After punching all the discs you need, gather them together in a pile. When the hot glue gun heats and the glue starts flowing you’ll be very happy you kept your work space organized.
  4. Time to put your pattern to work, it’s time to start gluing. Your glue gun has heated up to the point that it’s ready, this means it’s very easy to squeeze the trigger and have glue flow very freely. Depending on your glue gun this could prove very messy, make sure you have something to protect your work surface. If this is a new gun, do a little test squeeze to get the amount of pressure right. You really don’t need a lot of glue for this, you need just enough to cover the string and have the paper make contact. You know the “pinch” or 1/8th of a teaspoon measuring spoon you have? It’s almost that much glue.
  5. Quickly and carefully align a second paper disc on top and affix to the string and the first disc.
  6. Let sit for a second or two to let the glue harden slightly.

Repeat these steps until you’re done. If you need to travel with them or you’d like to keep them for another occasion, you can wrap the garlands around a tube (like the ones the post office has) and tape the ends down for easy storage. That’s the how- to of this project.  You can find larger pictures and more from this DIY project on our facebook page

The inspiration for this DIY project came from Couture By Ayca where you can purchase these original designs if DIY is not your cup o’ tea but you love the look for any occasion you have brewing. Here are a few more spins on that action to get you inspired.


Hayley Heintzelman featured on Marangelie Caballero

DIY Paper Garland

Hayley Heintzelman featured on Marangelie Caballero

Curbly Paper Garland

Paper Garland on Curbly

Yellow Paper Garland from Discover Paper

From the super fun website, Discover Paper

Paper Garland using Sewing Machine - Hey Lucy

Paper Garland using Sewing Machine – Hey Lucy

The Fabulous Garland - Sophie Cuvelier

Sophie Cuvelier, via Kelly Doust of The Crafty Minx, is the mind behind the AMAZING website The Fabulous Garland

Sophie Cuvelier on Blogspot

More of Sophie Cuvelier work on Blogspot

Use these for your wedding, to frame your fireplace or create a design element above it, in your children’s room, as “streamers” at a party. These are very worth of your time as they are versatile and can easily be reused. I’ll leave you with this one last wedding garland photo as tribute to the DIY Queen, Martha Stewart.

Wedding Paper Garland - Bride Groom Chairs

Paper Garland Decoration for the Bride & Groom’s Chairs – Martha Stewart Weddings

Quote of the Week

“Alchemist” by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa

Picture taken at MIT in Cambridge, MA of the interior of the “Alchemist” sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa

“The designers, those are the people putting their wires into our heads”
– from the documentary Helvetica

Book Report: “Found, Free & Flea”

Part of what we love about Ampersand Vintage Modern is the opportunity to resurrect old and forgotten objects from the past, shine a spotlight on them, and find creative ways to incorporate them into our own lives. A few months ago, while flipping through a new issue of Martha Stewart Living, I stumbled upon an article about Tereasa Surratt, a vintage kindred spirit.

found free and flea

Tereasa has recently written a book called Found, Free & Flea inspired by Camp Wandawega, the lake resort she runs with her husband.  The book—illustrated with beautiful photographs and fun and helpful asides by the author—tells the story of the vintage treasures they uncovered while renovating the camp and the vibrant, functional collections they assembled in the process.

Camp Wandawega is a lakeside hideaway nestled in the woods of Southern Wisconsin, less than two hours north of Chicago. The camp has seen many incarnations in the nearly 90 years since it was built: a speakeasy, brothel, restaurant, among others. The property was purchased by Latvian priests in the ‘60s and a decade later was serving as a church camp for families including that of the author’s husband, David Hernandez.

In 2004, Tereasa and David purchased the camp and soon began sifting through the layers of history. They unearthed decades worth of materials that inspired the look and feel of the new retreat they were creating together.

camp wandawega site map

Site Map. Photo credit: Camp Wandawega

To honor the humble origins of Camp Wandawega and tap into the nostalgic, vintage feel they were after, Tereasa came up with the decorating rule that would eventually become the title of this book: found, free & free. In other words, they would not employ any thing at the camp—object, piece of furniture, or decoration—unless it came to them as found (already on the premises), free (given to them at no charge), or flea (purchased for little money at a flea market, antique shop, or online). It is a very fascinating and frugal philosophy, and one that Tereasa stuck to with very few exceptions.

The result of this labor of love is the warm and inviting new Camp Wandawega and this wonderful companion book. Found, Free & Flea is chock-full of colorful photographs and great ideas for living with and displaying vintage collections. From a collection of vintage railroad lanterns clustered in the canopy of a pine tree, to a grouping of old cameras on a side table, to a wall covered in antique kitchen tools; every page you turn to evokes that quintessential vintage camp vibe (imagine living in Moonrise Kingdom).

found free and flea pennant display

This was the image that jumped out at me from the magazine. LOVE this idea for displaying vintage pennants! Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living.

camp wandawega hudsons bay chair

Recover a chair with a vintage Hudson’s Bay blanket…genius! Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living.

found free and flea bottle openers

Collection of bottle openers…cool. Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog

found free and flea pie tins

Vintage pie tins! Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

found free and flea vintage place setting

Use one of those pie tins as a charger in a vintage place setting…nice! Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living.

found free and flea vintage kitchen utensils

Antique kitchen utensils as wall art! Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

found free and flea souvenir shot glasses

A collection of souvenir shot glasses makes for a very happy hour! Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

found free and flea thermos collection

Vintage tartan thermos collection. Photo credit: A Very Modest Cottage Blog.

One of the great points that Tereasa reiterates throughout the book is that these “decorative items” are all functional and all put to use on a regular basis. It’s a principal that we wholeheartedly agree with! What’s the use of having an amazing collection of Fiesta ware or camp blankets if you’re not going to enjoy their use?!

I highly recommend this book. It is not only great eye-candy, but a terrific resource for anyone who loves vintage! In the 200+ pages, you will be inspired to tap into your inner-cheapskate and see if you can’t duplicate some of the perfectly displayed collections on your own and without breaking the bank.

camp wandawega ad

Image credit: Tereasa Surratt

Quote of the Week

mid century modern globe

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

~John Dewey

Decorating with…Vintage Pulleys!

vintage pulleys at ampersand vintage modern

Displayed on their own or as part of a grouping, vintage pulleys can become really cool, sculptural pieces of art. The combination of the distressed wood and aged patina on the metal adds a rustic and industrial element to any room. We recently added a selection of old pulleys to the Ampersand Vintage Modern shop.

large iron pulley at ampersand vintage modern

wooden pulley at ampersand vintage modern

vintage pulley collection at ampersand vintage modern

While they serve as artifacts and evoke a bygone time in our history, vintage pulleys aren’t just nice to look at—they’re incredibly functional. Granted, you probably won’t be hooking them up to use on a ship or to lift bales of hay, but there are interesting and unique ways they can be used as decorative options around your home.

Something as simple as propping up books on a shelf looks amazing with pulley bookends!

vintage pulley bookends

Photo credit: Mamie Jane’s blog

These upcycled lighting fixtures made from old pulleys are pretty awesome (and probably would be pretty easy to duplicate)!

vintage pulley lightvintage pulley light 2

vintage pulley light 3

Photo credit: wendyumanoffstyle blog

vintage pulley light 4

Photo credit: Benclif Designs

Anytime something needs to be suspended from your ceiling or wall, adding a pulley makes it way cooler.

vintage pulley art display

Vintage pulley art display. Photo credit:

vintage pulley mirror hanging

Bathroom mirror installation. Photo credit:

vintage pulley pendant light

Hanging a pendant light. Photo credit: Cottage at Rooster Ridge

vintage pulley and lantern display

Great way to display two collections: pulleys and lanterns. Photo credit: Serendipity Refined.

However you decide to use or display these old pulleys, they’re a great conversation starter and an easy way to add a little history and industrial charm to your decor. Thanks for looking!

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