sneak peek: alethea morrison


if you’ve ever had dreams of backyard chickens, miniature goats or just becoming a better gardener, chances are you’ve picked up a storey publishing book (confession. i have two of their chicken books and i don’t even have a backyard!) three years ago, alethea morrison, now the creative director of storey publishing, her husband mars vilaubi and son xavier moved from san francisco to their own little plot of land in williamstown, ma. the couple had spent their entire lives in cities, but they’re all adjusting to life in the country just fine! and it’s giving alethea a chance to try out some of those storey books! {thanks alethea, mars and xavier! and special thanks to mars for the lovely photos!} amy a

[Before we moved to Williamstown, I was desperate to get settled in a permanent home to ease the transition, but most of what we saw was a depressing assortment of dark houses with low ceilings that contrasted unfavorably to airy California spaces. The very last possible house we looked at was like a gift. Having just that day come on the market, we were the first to see it, and we bought it immediately. What I like most about the plan of our house is that the living room, dining area, and kitchen are all one big open area. It makes the space feel modern and is just plain convenient. I also love the exposed beams, the use of salvaged wood for architectural details, and the wide-plank pine
floors.

photo above: I have a longstanding design crush on Angela Adams, who designed the rug in my living room. My favorite piece of furniture in the whole house is the mid-century Scandinavian sideboard. Art on the walls is, from left, by Hatch Show Print, John Wischmann, Yee-Haw Industries, and decals by Blik. The pillow is by Crispina ffrench. I keep meaning to digitize my record collection, but I’ll keep the vinyl all the same if for no other reason than loving the cover art. My dog Chico was born and raised in San Jose and can never get warm enough in this colder climate.]


[The ladderback chair and basket of pine cones at the foot of the stairs are from my grandparents. They were dyed-in-the-wool Yankees, and it greatly relieved my grandfather that I moved back east before he passed away. There’s another Angela Adams mini rug. On the windowsill I keep a little nature shelf of pretty stones, driftwood,et al that I find here and there.]


[photo above: I bought this teak table and eight chairs for $100 at a tag sale my first summer here. Mars and I reupholstered all the chairs ourselves with Maine Cottage fabric, which taught us that we don’t like to upholster furniture. It took us almost nine months to complete. What I do like is vivid color and bold patterns – vintage Harlequin dishes, workaday Fiesta, and Orla Kiely for Target fit the bill. I bought the enameled milk jug and wire egg basket at Brimfield. I can’t say enough good things about these Modern-Twist silicone placemats: they are easy to clean, feel silky to the touch, and are beautifully designed. The ceramic fish trivet is something my grandparents bought when they visited Norway. I treasure it beyond reason. The art on the wall is a vintage Scandinavian plate and a print by artist Jen Skelley.]


[photo above: For our bedroom, I made portraits of Mars and me out of vintage wallpaper and housed them in Victorian frames. We have a lot of sock monkeys that we’ve rescued from flea markets and adopted. I had to put the kibosh on getting any more. There are only so many mouths you can feed. These two are named Gypsy and Harpo.]

CLICK HERE for the rest of alethea’s sneak peek after the jump!


[photo above: I made the rug in our bedroom myself out of recycled sweaters during a three-day workshop I took with artist Crispina ffrench. She made the runner on top of the dresser. The quilt is designed by Denyse Schmidt.]


[photo above: The counters in our kitchen are made of soapstone, which is the same material used in science labs. It’s totally impervious to heat, has a pretty, smoky-grey color and a chalky finish. I keep my dish soap in a vintage seltzer bottle with a barware pour spout. It keeps the soap handy but still looks nice. I’m a design victim with my Dualit toaster. I like the color and shape of it, but I hate in on a functional level. The matching vintage colander I got at Brimfield. My dad has been doing a lot of woodworking, and he made us the cutting board for Christmas. He also made the vase on the bar back in the 70s when he was a potter.]


[photo above: Xavier’s room has its share of sock animals as well. I covered corkboard squares with fabric and nailed them on the wall so Xavier could tack up his drawings. He keeps his own nature shelf on the windowsill. The pillows are by Jonathan Adler and the wool serape is vintage.]


[photo above: When we moved, I promised Xavier I would redecorate his room in a bird theme. Since he was a baby, it was decorated in a cowboy theme, which he was never into. We hung a large twiggy branch from the ceiling, and I made birds out of plant-dyed wool roving. The needle-felted nest and eggs is by local artist Lauren Gottlieb.]


[photo above: From our years in California we have lots of Western and Mexican decor, which has mostly now gathered In our guest bedroom. This bed is crazy. It even has wrought-iron barbed wire details. The vintage suitcase was my samples portfolio the last time I looked for a job. It has a new life as a bedside table, resting on an antique suitcase stand from my grandparents.]


[photo above: All the old cowboy stuff from Xavier’s former bedroom lives in the guest room now. The mirror I bought at the Grand Nationals Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. It’s made of salvaged wood that’s been branded and studded with with horseshoes. In the reflection is a paint-by-number horse.]


[photo above: And lastly, the chickens. I’ve gone native and now keep three egg-laying hens in my backyard. My hen house is an Eglu, the first and only chicken coop to be featured in ID magazine. My next homesteading adventure is beekeeping this spring!]

  1. Crazy- I have a cinnamon + sugar shaker that match those yellow canisters in the kitchen. it was my grandmothers. i’ve never seen them any where else!

  2. Coran says:

    I have the same vintage suitcase on display in my house that is used as nightstand in the your guest room! lovely home.

  3. I love the dining photo and all the color going on the with bright dishes and the gorgeous covered chairs!

  4. Marguerite Vierkant says:

    You have done a beautiful job in decorating your new home.
    I especially like the tree branch and birds and nest. Xavier is very lucky to have such a creative Mom!

  5. Sarah says:

    Great use of color…especially love the green in the living room. The only thing I didn’t like was the Blix decals over the fireplace, but that is just my personal dislike of decals. I would love to see the same idea rendered in paint with a single large branch coming in from one side of the fireplace–I think it would be far more visually arresting in that stunning room.

  6. Nice chicken house. Is that available for purchase or not yet. If so how?
    Think about cat house, it can be very useful for cat lovers and it has market.
    We have some design, if you can built it just let’s start.

  7. kaarina says:

    sounds like you’re adjusting very nicely to life in the country! Hope to hear about your beekeeping next season…I just bought mason bees for our garden so hopefully our pear tree gets pollinated this year (fingers crossed). The xavier’s room is so great- I love those birds and the nest.
    Oh, and your dad seemed like a real talent- that vase he did is really cool. :)

  8. AbbySt says:

    I love the colors, the Mexican blankets, and the that awesome recycled rug. I have to learn how to make that now.

  9. *maggie says:

    ohmygoodness!! do you remember where/when you acquired the stirrup lamp?!

  10. Anna says:

    Very beautiful! This is exactly how I dreamed mine would be like – white base with colors!

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