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In New Haven, a Boho Glam Bungalow That’s Welcoming to All

by Sofia Tuovinen

In New Haven, a Boho Glam Bungalow that’s Welcoming to All | Design*Sponge
When Jessica and Christopher Brigham still lived in their East Haven, CT rental apartment, Jessica used to go house hunting in rural areas, hoping to find that dream property with character, charm and a good amount of land. The couple had no immediate plans to move, but daydreaming never hurt anyone. When Jessica’s mother, a realtor, first told her about a house for sale in New Haven, Jessica scoffed — staying in the city wasn’t what she had in mind. Despite her hesitations, Jessica decided to drive past the house that her mom had mentioned, just to see what it looked like. The moment she set eyes on the 1930s Craftsman that stood on a double lot and bordered a city-owned forest, something sparked. A few days later, Christopher, who hadn’t really been in on the house hunt game, came home and told Jessica that he too had driven by the house and had the same feeling — it just felt right. “Chris and I opened a bottle of red wine that night and talked it through — the rest is history. We still have that bottle. I’m so grateful this home independently tugged at our heartstrings and that it’s ours,” Jessica shares.

Fast forward four years brings us to a couple of very satisfied homeowners living within the New Haven city limits. Jessica, a photographer, blogger and creative jack-of-all-trades, hasn’t thought twice about the country properties she used to long for. Although she and Christopher live in the suburbs, you’d never guess it. The forest that borders their property brings almost daily visitors including turkeys, hawks, deer, coyotes, and woodchucks. “We often joke that we live in Vermont, CT,” Jessica says.

The chance to enjoy country life in the city isn’t the only reason why Jessica and Christopher fell so hard for the house they now proudly call home. The rare double lot and captivating forest aside, the house itself had everything the couple could wish for — a functional layout, big windows, tons of natural light, and heaps of period charm. It has its history too — in the 70s, it was burned all the way to the roofline. “It’s structurally sound of course, it’s amazing how well-built these old homes are.” The house has what Christoper, Captain at the New Haven Fire Department, calls “deep char” in the beams of the attic. When some future renovations have been completed, Jessica has plans to commemorate this detail. “I want to make a pocket door in the ceiling with a brass plaque that details the char as part of the home’s history — my bungalow museum,” she explains.

When Jessica and Christopher first moved in, they relied on well-loved hand-me-downs to create a cozy and welcoming feel. During the last year, the couple’s home has rapidly evolved more in tune with their personalities. Jessica, who has always been an eclectic collector and lover of color, has begun to trust and embrace a wilder and more vibrant style. Many rooms in the home have recently been transformed and now reflect this newly found freedom of expression. Everything from the roaring 20s to mid-century modern and Christopher’s California roots has inspired the couple’s cheerful style. Jessica loves the challenge of mixing these various looks to create personal spaces that feel bold, uplifting and ever so inviting. “My goal is to create a vibrant and inspiring home with a modern, eclectic and glammy twist that’s warm, welcoming, and relaxing to all who enter,” she summarizes. The dining room and master bedroom, two of the most recently updated spaces, are perfect reflections of what Jessica and Christopher’s home is all about. Both spaces feature vividly patterned accent wallpaper and brass details, balanced with warm woods and white walls. The process of creating these beautiful spaces gives Jessica a wonderful creative outlet and a chance to reflect her personality. “Finding ways to make our house a home is like meditation to me,” she adds. Consider this home Jessica and Christopher’s meditative milestone for the senses, sure to spark creative ideas and inspirational thoughts in others too! — Sofia

Photography by Jessica Brigham

Image above: Jessica and Christopher’s bright living room is an ode to mid-century style. The beautiful view of the moody office is framed by a set of French doors that Jessica installed herself.

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The living room’s velvet couch from Article is known as “The Blue Wonder”. “This layout makes the room feel huge and inviting,” Jessica says. “As for the curtains — ombre is my hombre,” she jokingly adds. The five-orb arc lamp adds height to the space and was a score on Craigslist. 

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Marla and Sylvester, the couple’s cats, are frequent occupiers of the comfortable, mid-century inspired arm chairs from World Market.

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Thrifted pieces, including a brass peacock screen, adorn the fireplace. “I debate removing the sconces entirely so I can have larger art on the mantle!” Jessica says. “I have a fireplace tile DIY coming one of these days, too.”

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Jessica recently remodeled the dining room into a breathtaking entertaining space. She wanted to create a vibrant feel with a foundation that reflected the era of the house.

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Jessica tore down the old chair rail and built a three-quarter high board and batten that she painted white. Above it, she installed removable Nana (pink) wallpaper tiles by Justina Blakeney for Hygge & West. The brass bar cart adds a touch of Hollywood Regency.

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A DIY driftwood centerpiece that Jessica made decorates the dining table. Above it, a sputnik-style chandelier creates a stunning focal point in the room. The 65-year-old dragon bone cactus in the background was bought at an estate sale. “This reminds me so much of my grandmother-in-law Dorothy’s gorgeous California courtyard,” she explains.

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The modern poplar table was built by Jessica’s friends at Mason Dixon Handmade. “I originally planned to stain the table, but when I witnessed the natural grain, it was too beautiful to cover up,” Jessica says. The cantilever chairs highlight the deco-style scallops of the table legs — a happy accident!

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Christopher and Jessica have enjoyed their 1930s bungalow for just over four years, almost exactly the same amount of time that they have been married. “We closed on our home two days before the day we got hitched!”

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Dark green walls (Hunter Green by Benjamin Moore) create a moody atmosphere in the office. An early 1900s secretary desk holds everything that Jessica could need when working from home.

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Thrifted treasures make up a cozy corner in the office.

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A DIY wall unit inspired by Dabito is the perfect solution for the smaller office space. “It draws your attention to the high ceilings and makes this quaint room feel rather large.” The tiger oak filing cabinet is originally from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Library in Philadelphia.

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Jessica and Christopher replaced the hollow, six-panel doors in the hallway with original one-panel versions. “I had a recurring ad online seeking the doors. A friend of ours […] used to live on our street and took the original doors from his old house with him. Sitting in storage, they returned to the same street a few years later and were installed in our hallway. Crazy coincidences!” Jessica shares. The peachy wall color is Coral Glow by Benjamin Moore.

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Once Jessica began using removable wallpaper she hasn’t looked back. The master bedroom was transformed into a modern, sunny and glamorous space with Best Fronds wallpaper by Wallshoppe.

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The thrifted brass sconces blend in beautifully with the yellow and golden tones of the wallpaper.

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The early 1900s oak armoire reflects a beautiful vignette of the accent wall. “This is the first big piece we paid real money for. [It] was my inspiration for the entire room — a modern boho glam appeal,” Jessica shares.

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The couple’s dog Murphy sleeps in his beloved bed every night.

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“What I love most about my home is…it’s vibrant, relaxing, and feels like HOME.” — Jessica

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The bathroom was redone on a budget, partly inspired by Jessica’s best friend’s wedding in Key West. Jessica worked with stencils, patterns and paint to turn this space into her tropical haven.

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“One day we may replace the 6″x6″ tile with hardwood, but I love how my Contempo stencil from Royal Design Studio brings out the gold in the Tommy Bahama Home curtain panels,” Jessica says. What look like two picture frames on the wall are actually medicine cabinets by The Concealed Cabinet that came with the house. The plant prints are by VividAtelier.

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A wall shelf by Pepe & Carols comes in handy in a small bathroom. A vintage inspired poster from Habitat for Humanity ReStore adds to the vintage beachy feel.

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Jessica and her sister took on the task of renovating the guest bedroom into a moody, atmospheric retreat for visitors. “We’re big fans of bed & breakfasts and Southern hospitality vibes. Owning a B&B is on my bucket list,” Jessica shares.

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The furnace fire had damaged the plaster walls badly, which required plenty of patching. “[The] walls are not perfect, but I like that it adds to the history,” Jessica explains. The brass bed frame is one of Jessica’s many amazing Craiglist finds.

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The sloping ceiling creates a cozy feel in the guest bedroom, where everything is thrifted. The deep blue walls are painted in Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore.

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Floor plan of Jessica and Christopher’s 2,175-square-foot Craftsman bungalow.

SOURCE LIST

Living Room
Paint color: Super White by Benjamin Moore
Sectional Sofa: Article
Armchairs & Pillows: World Market
Ombre Curtains (melon): Target
Natural Pouf: Etsy
Natural Fiber Rug: Pottery Barn (discontinued)
All else thrifted or heirlooms

Dining Room
Paint color: Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore
Wallpaper: Nana Pink Tiles by Justina Blakeney for Hygge & West
Dining Chairs: Article
Dining Table: Mason Dixon Handmade
Brass Bar Cart: Mid Century Collective
Sputnik-Style chandelier: Amazon
Natural Blinds: Amazon
Brass Plates/Covers: House of Antique Hardware
All else thrifted or heirlooms

Office
Paint color: Hunter Green by Benjamin Moore
Leather Chair: West Elm
Brass Floor Lamp & Ship: Home Goods
All else thrifted or heirlooms

Hallway
Paint color: Coral Glow by Benjamin Moore
All else thrifted or heirlooms

Master Bedroom
Paint color: Super White by Benjamin Moore
Wallpaper: “Best Fronds” in Yellow by Wallshoppe
Nightstands: Target
Mudcloth Lumbar Pillow: DK Renewal
Natural Blinds: Amazon
Bedding: TJ Maxx & IKEA
All else thrifted or heirlooms

Bathroom
Paint colors: Super White (walls) & Hunter Green by Benjamin Moore (ceiling)
Shelving Unit, Brass Towel Rods & Brass Towel Bar: Pepe & Carols
Contempo Stencil: Royal Design Studio
Brass Light Fixtures: ReStore
Shower Curtain: Amazon/Tommy Bahama Home
Green Towels: Bed, Bath & Beyond
Art Prints: VividAtelier
Concealed medicine cabinets: The Concealed Cabinet
Faux Plants: Home Goods
Faucet, Toilet Seat: Amazon
All else thrifted or heirlooms

Guest Room
Paint Color: Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore
Everything is thrifted

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