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This Montana Home is the Definition of a Labor of Love

Two and half years ago, painter Jen French and husband Rob, an IT consultant, decided to move from Providence, Rhode Island to Billings, Montana to be closer to Jen’s family. Jen’s Dad, a retired engineer, was looking for a challenging project so he offered to renovate a fixer-upper. After months of searching online, Jen found this midcentury home located just under the rims – the sandstone cliffs that run along the north side of the city – and bought it without ever seeing it in person. It had previously been used as a nursing home and was badly in need of renovation but it had an interesting layout, great location and huge windows, and even more importantly, Jen’s Dad was up to the task. He did most of the renovation work himself, gutting and replacing three entire bathrooms, the kitchen, removing popcorn ceilings, replacing windows and doors and making general repairs in every room. While he was in Montana working hard on the house, Jen was designing and ordering all the supplies from Rhode Island. She only made one quick visit to choose flooring and paint (and help strip wallpaper!). Jen says that it’s a much nicer house than they could have ever afforded without all that sweat equity from her Dad. And just one year ago, after the two years of renovations, Jen, Rob, the couple’s 7-year-old twins, Hank and Dexter, and Shorty the dog, all moved to their new home in Montana. -Amy

Photography by Jen French (her work is available from Tart in Bozeman, and at the Artists’ Shop in Missoula) with art direction from Paul Rudolph

Image above: “We took out a dividing wall between the dining room and kitchen to open up the space and make room for the island,” Jen says. “I love to work in the kitchen while the boys sit here.”

Image above: “I came up with our our dining room table when the boys were babies and we wanted an indestructible surface. It’s made out of two antique table bases given to us by a friend, and a Formica counter ordered from Home Depot. Rob bought me the iron hanging light from eBay before we were married. This is the third home that we’ve hung it in. We added a sliding door leading out to the patio to the right of the table. It completely lightened up the dining room and kitchen.”


See more of this Montana home after the jump!

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A Dream Home 2+ Years in the Waiting

The way Andrea Duclos (known to family and friends as Drea) tells the story, she didn’t find this house, the house found her. Andrea is a full-time lifestyle blogger, currently writing a plant-based family cookbook. She spent two long years (and two offers declined) searching for a house in South Florida to call her own, when she stumbled upon this house in a neighborhood that she never even knew existed. The house was a short sale and even though it was dark and needed a lot of work, Drea saw its potential. But after no response to her offer, she packed her bags and went to Hawaii with her daughter to cook for another family. When she returned two months later, she called her realtor, who suggested that it was time to start over, but just thirty minutes later, he called back with the news that her offer had been accepted! In the six months of waiting for the house, a lot had changed – broken AC, broken windows and the backyard had become completely overgrown (See the backyard before and after right here). Drea got right to work making the house the welcoming space that she had been dreaming about for the past two years, and now it’s the perfect space for her, husband Alex, daughter Marlowe, Jerry the dog and Jerry the fish!  -Amy

Photography by Hannah Mayo

Image above: “Our living room is our fun and bright space,” Drea says. “I love how open it is. I believe it was a later addition to this house – as well as the open alcove up top. It’s not really functional, mostly decorative, but it brings in the extra light that I love. I love the fact that we have enough space to relax here and play here.”

Image above: “The master bedroom: it’s still always a work in progress, but the way the late afternoon light comes in over the bed is absolutely perfect. When I’m in the kitchen, my bed is my office. A calm and cozy space for me to work in. The tapestry above my bed is one of my most asked-about pieces. It’s a one-of-a-kind, hand stitched vintage piece. I love it through all its imperfections and bleeding inks.”

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Making the Most of Small Town Living

Two dogs, one cat, a 7-month-old baby, two adults and a business all share this 1930s farmhouse in the town of Nelson in British Columbia, Canada. Nadine Boyd and Jeremy Kelly moved to tiny Nelson from Vancouver just a year ago when Nadine was eight months pregnant. Jeremy actually traveled to the town a few months before Nadine did to renovate the house. The couple used a muted color palette in their home – one that will evolve over the years. And since Nadine works with colors all day with her photography business – she creates moody fine art and commercial photography – it’s nice to have a visual break when she’s not working. Even though the couple misses the ocean breezes, salt air and sounds of the seagulls from the coast, their little family is settling right into small town life.-Amy

All images by Walter Helena Photography

Image above: “In our master bedroom we wanted to create a minimalist white oasis,” Nadine says. “As we did throughout the rest of the house, we tore up all the flooring (layer upon layer of carpet, tile, linoleum) and installed this imperfect country maple. We removed faded wallpaper from the back wall and installed cedar cladding. Everything got coat after coat of white paint. We left all the old door hardware. The bed frame and aluminum reading lights are IKEA. The bedside tables were a vintage find and came in a set of four. The bedside lamps are 28d from Bocci Design. The ceiling lamp was thrifted from our local market. The vintage window frame I’ve been carrying around with me for almost a decade – it was an alleyway find. Peeking out from behind the curtain is a metal gull sculpture that I purchased in California. The amount of times our son Sebastian slept in that bassinet I can count on one hand.”

Image above: “Sebastian’s nursery received much of the same treatment as our master bedroom – carpet ripped up, hardwood installed, blinds removed, cedar cladding installed on all the walls and white, white, white. The handmade wooden train set was from a market in Eugene, Oregon. The child’s chair was a vintage find in Ojai, California. The small desk is handmade and on top is a puzzle from my childhood that my parents saved for this very occasion. You can just see the edge of a beautiful rocking chair, which was my mother’s, and rocked me to sleep throughout my infancy. My parents had the rocking chair’s rattan restored in preparation for Sebastian’s arrival. The ceiling light was thrifted from our local market in Nelson. This room has the best view in the house – through the window you can see the lake and Elephant Mountain.”

photo 2-2

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A Day In The Life of Taylor Kitto

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Like several thousand other people, I’m a huge fan of stylist/photographer/shopkeeper Taylor Kitto‘s Instagram feed. I’ve been happily following her feed and enjoying all of the gorgeous photos she posts of her life and work in San Luis Obispo and her travels in a vintage trailer. Each month Taylor hosts a pop-up shop with her business, Wild Poppy, that showcases not just her goods but the work of other local artists. I love celebrating and learning more about anyone that’s working to help promote other people, so I was excited to peek inside her life in California. From the day-to-day shop duties like packing orders (beautifully, I might add) and hunting for new vintage goods to fun runs on the beach with her dog, Taylor has me wanting to open up a DS branch somewhere sunny and warm. Until then, I’ll live vicariously through her lovely day. Thanks, Taylor! xo, grace

Don’t miss Taylor’s stylish camper makeover and home tour on DS, too!

Click through for the full post after the jump!

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Brendan Ravenhill’s Grain Barrel Light

Some of our favorite designs are ones that exhibit, as architect Robert Venturi would put it, complexity and contradiction—objects that are not only beautiful, but able to play with our perceptions and contribute to the greater design discussion. Brendan Ravenhill’s recently released Grain lighting series does just this. Constructed from materials like spun aluminum, these lamps are imparted with a decidedly out-of-place but nonetheless suitable decorative finish: wood grain. A look that is created by using a wooden moulding tool that has been sand-blasted to exaggerate its grain, these objects are perplexingly and simultaneously industrial and natural—a tangible recording of the craft process rather than an artificial appliqué. Take a look at Brendan’s notes about his design and a few more photos of his Grain series after the jump! —Max


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Best of the Web

This week has been one of the most exciting yet. I taught my first Social Media Workshop Class (There are 2 seats left for next week’s class here!), we made some big plans for summer content and we began the process of planning a little facelift for D*S to come in a few months. I love when things feel like they’re moving and changing and chugging forward. That sort of momentum is so uplifting and inspiring. My mom is coming into town this afternoon, so I’m heading out a bit early to pick her up at the airport. Until Monday, I hope you all have a great weekend! xo, grace

Photo above is by LaClariere from the #dslooking feed on Instagram



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