Sun-Filled Coastal House Tour With Mary Swenson

Great news! I've got a sun-filled house tour for you today. I know you'll love it. Mary Swenson of Pretty Good and t.ruffle girls moved into a quaint house in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 2006. Newburyport is a historic coastal town and their house is over 200 years old! It's located downtown, where the houses are squeezed in tight and have teeny-tiny yards, making for a great little community. I think the whole place sounds so charming.

Mary, my first question is what's your favorite room in the house?

I'd have to say our kitchen. It's a long galley-style kitchen, which makes it a little challenging for entertaining, but we knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, so that makes it a bit more open than it was before. I'm just such a foodie and love to cook and entertain, so I really love being surrounded by everything that reminds me of those things. It makes me happy.

You can see the whole light and bright tour when you click through.

I love these shots of the front hallway. What a neat display to great guests when they visit. Please tell us all about it.

Our front hallway has gone through about a zillion different incarnations before I found something that worked. I love this mirror made from driftwood (bought from Red Bird Trading), and it's really brought much-needed light to the area. The table, which I painted white, was a gift from my mom. 

The old bottle crate was found on eBay; the Swedish horses are from Simply Scandanavian in Portland, Maine. The rug is Dash & Albert and the blue jars and bottles are a combination of ones that used to belong to my Grandmother and ones that I've found at yard sales or antiques markets. The mirrored plate was bought locally.

The living room is so clean and cozy. Looks like a great place for relaxing and having a good chat. Tell me about that amazing flag.

Our living room is more like a small sitting room when you first walk in. The old, battered Swedish flag has been in my husband's family for years now (it flew over a police station in Sweden) and rather than keep it hidden away, we decided to frame it. It's definitely a conversation piece! The couch is from IKEA, the table is from Hammertown Farm, the lamp is from West Elm, and the rug is from Pottery Barn.

The white tray holds little seaside bits and bobs, and the vase is Jonathan Adler.

This chair is one of two that used to belong to my grandmother. They both have pumpkin orange upholstery, so we opted to have slipcovers made. Everyone who sits in them comments on how comfortable they are; they've got great bones.

The painting above it is by my friend and neighbor, Margaret Bernier. Side table is from Red Bird Trading. The box on top was made by my neighbor out of driftwood, and I filled it with succulents. The "hello" pillow is from Olive.

How neat to have the dining table near the fireplace. What do you like best about the dining room?

The period details in our house can be most seen in our dining room. It's great to have a fire going during dinner with friends in the winter!  :) 

Our dining room table is hands-down my favorite piece of furniture in our home. We bought it from an antique store in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and it was handmade by a father for his family of 8. I absolutely love the fact that it seated his family for a generation -- imagine the conversations and the meals that took place at that table? I so look forward to carrying on that history with my own family someday.

The chairs are from IKEA, the light is from CB2, the rug is Dash & Albert, and the big letter "S" is from Hindsvik.

Oh goody. Kitchen pics! I love getting a glimpse of a pretty kitchen. Tell me about that table -- it must have a great story.

We found the butcher block table in our kitchen in Portland, Maine, and it was love. at. first. sight. I went gaga over it. Aesthetically, it's everything I love: chipped, white paint and weathered wood. And it clearly was used by someone who stood in front of it and propped up his/her foot on the metal bar that joins the front legs together, because it's got a bend to it. I love that! It worked perfectly in our kitchen because we have so little counter space to prep food on. We use this table to chop veggies, roll out dough, let baked goods cool ... you name it. We slid a bread board onto the metal rungs on the legs and it holds much of my white serveware.

The calendar is by Claudia Pearson. And, yep, that's a Keep Calm and Carry On poster ... I know everyone's sick of it, but I love it. It's a great little daily reminder for me, and the red and white pop in my kitchen.

Because the houses in our neighborhood are so close together, my kitchen window view looks right into my next-door neighbor's kitchen. I put up a pretty fabric shade (Pottery Barn from years ago) and propped up a big white serving tray on a plate stand.

We painted a wall that covers an old chimney in our kitchen with chalkboard paint. To the right is a little counter that we use as a coffee station and to house all of my cookbooks.

I love cookbooks and actually sit with them and read them cover-to-cover as if it were a novel, planning dinner parties in my head and flagging recipes I want to try, but I am super-picky about which ones I buy, due to the limited space we've got. My criteria? They have to be filled with recipes that I'll actually make more than once and have great photography.

Just seeing this table makes me want to get my craft on. Tell me about this great space.

I have so many spools of ribbon and scraps of fabric, and I always use them for wrapping or projects. I like to be able to see what I've got and wire baskets were the perfect (and vintage-y) choice. They are all vintage and were scored on Etsy or in antiques markets. (I also use wire baskets in my closets to store cleaning supplies.) The table was found for free on a sidewalk and painted white, the chair is from Target (from years ago), and the print is by Linzie Hunter.

This family room is so inviting. It feels so seaside and sunny. And that quote is amazing. Would you mind sharing your sources?

This room is on the second floor, and because both our back and front staircases are so narrow, we had a really hard time finding a sofa that fit up the stairs. This Ektorp sectional from IKEA worked perfectly.

The seagull print is by Wayne Pate, and I made the sign myself after being inspired by this post. The quote is from Danish writer Isak Dinesen, and it sits above an old red stepstool found at an antiques store and an antique chest (inside is where my husband and I keep all of the love notes we've written to each other) bought in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

The two oars were bought at an antiques store. The table was an unfinished table from Target, which I painted white; and I cannot for the life of me remember the brand of the rug, but I ordered it through Red Bird Trading here in Newburyport. 

I am obsessed with trays, and when I stumbled on this one made of distressed wood, I snatched it up immediately. It's perfect for corralling bits and books and magazines on our coffee table.

This IKEA chair sits on the opposite side of our family room in front of an Expedit bookcase, also from IKEA. The fish and chips print is from Mr. PS, and the Valentine print is by Ettore Sottsass. The quilt is an oldie from Garnet Hill, and the wood bowl was a gift from my mom.

I'm so impressed with all the light in your home. And I can see it extends to your sunshine-y bedroom as well. I'd love to hear all about the details.

Our bedroom used to be the attic, and we turned it into our master bedroom in 2007. The bedside tables are from an antiques market, and the lamps and bed are IKEA. The rug and striped pillow covers are from Pottery Barn, and the green pillows and green and white chevron throw were found at HomeGoods.

This dresser is one of a matching set that we found at an antiques store; they both bow out slightly in the front, which reminded us of a boat. The green lamp was found at HomeGoods and triggered choosing the green accent color I went with in our bedroom.

The primitive wood box was found at an estate sale on Cape Cod, and it holds my jewelry. The tiny painting is me as a little girl, which my grandmother had done. I stash my hair dryer and other hair gadgets inside a pair of baskets from Pottery Barn.  

I am flower-obsessed. I deconstruct store-bought arrangements and place them in little containers throughout the house. This one, on my bedside table, is inside a Samantha Robinson cup -- one of three sent to me by my aunt in Australia who went to visit her studio.  (Swoon.)

Mary, I can't thank you enough for letting us have a tour of your beautiful home. I'm especially impressed with the art collection you've so carefully curated. So inspiring!

Dear Readers, if you're craving more inspiration, don't miss Mary's gorgeous photography blog Pretty Good and her print shop, t.ruffle girls. They're both on my daily "must-read" list.

bedroom, decorating, dining room, family room, home tours, inspirations, kitchen

15 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Cafe... Cafe Suzanne

It is so light and clean, I love it. The chalkboard is a great idea!

nonmember avatar Mary

Gorgeous home!  Very New England, very bright, very comfortable.  Love it!

nonmember avatar laura

I love it; so simple and beautiful!


I'll never tire of my keep calm posters either, they make me happy :-)

nonmember avatar colleen

What a lovely home, Mary! Now I have to go buy that Valentine print...

nonmember avatar Jacqui

Thanks so much for taking us inside of your home.  I love how light all the wall colors and decor are - really keeps the house open and spacious.

frysh... fryshannon34

Very nice thanks for sharing

nonmember avatar Cheney

I love white clean homes - Mary has a great simple style. 

nonmember avatar Kristin

I've been a big fan of mary's for a while now, and now I am even more! Her house is gorgeous.

nonmember avatar PS~Erin

I love so many things about your house, Mary, but my very favorite has to be that giant, red 'S'. What a great space you've created!

1-10 of 15 comments 12 Last
F