Interiorssneak peeks

Sneak Peek: Kirsten Marchand

by Amy Azzarito

Five years ago, Kirsten Marchand (who designs retail environments for New Balance and has a blog all about design inspiration, Design Marchand) and her husband, Dave, were looking for a farm property to call home, but when their realtor showed them this property in Rocks Village, Massachusetts — a tiny historic village on Boston’s North Shore — they fell in love. The home is filled with history: The back is from the late 1700s, and the front addition is from the early 1800s. During its long history, it’s been everything from a tavern to a doctor’s office to a farm house. What clinched the deal were the Rufus Porter murals. Rufus Porter was an artist and inventor who painted hundreds of murals in New England between 1820 and 1845. His work in this home captivated Kirsten and Dave, who felt it would be perfect for their growing family; they now have twin toddlers. Kirsten met the challenge of designing a home filled with history by finding pieces as special as the house — objects with a patina, quality craftsmanship and character — while also making the space livable for the family. (And protecting those murals from twins armed with crayons!) Thanks, Kirsten and Dave! Photography by Malcolm Brown Photography (except where otherwise noted). — Amy Azzarito

Image above: Kids’ guest room/my office. I wanted to create a cozy guest room for our nephew when he visits us in the summer. This ended up being one of my favorite spaces in our house. The bed was a Craigslist find that I painted Benjamin Moore Polo Blue. Wallpaper from OhHoy, Fine Little Day. Trim paint is Benjamin Moore November Rain. Duvet made by my mom with fabric from ABC Home & Carpet. Lampshade is ReGo LLC. Voz Art bracelet.

Image above: We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and love the big hearth (we’ve since covered it with a safety gate for the twins). Trim paint Benjamin Moore Gray Mirage.

See more of Kirsten’s Massachusetts home (and those murals) after the jump . . .

Image above: I wanted to find a prominent place for my grandfather’s apron — this was from a supper club he was part of in Taiwan in the ’60s. The title of Hawg of the Month was awarded to the guy who ate the most and who was the sloppiest while doing it. The red cabinet (originally a Maine storefront) was one of the first pieces I bought after college. When it was delivered to my Hoboken, NJ, brownstone, I realized there was no way to get it upstairs. I had a carpenter take it apart and reassemble it with screws, which has come in handy as it has been moved five times since.

Image above: Living Room. We found the 1930s Heriz rug at the Madison Bouckville, NY Antique Show in 2010. I was so nervous for the whole five-hour drive home that it wouldn’t fit. Now I can’t imagine the room without it. Frequently, the Heriz is covered with a sea of Duplo blocks from the kids! The French chicken trunk from Vintageweave Interiors in LA and was my 30th birthday present from Dave. Vintage Chinese art from my grandfather. Chairs are Lee Industries. Pillow fabric is Elizabeth Eakins. Paint is Benjamin Moore Gray Wisp.

Image above: Kitchen cabinet paint is Gray Mirage. Tiger maple countertops were handmade by our home’s previous owner. I took a sewing class five years ago and made the valances with Brunschwig & Fils fabric. (I’ve since forgotten how to sew!) The chicken and rooster were in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Image above: Rufus Porter murals (1830s) in our front stairwell

Image above: The Rufus Porter murals in our bedroom are monochromatic grey green. The dealer I purchased the Armenian rug from told me it was either a rug created to celebrate a birth or to commemorate a funeral. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s a birth rug!

Image above: Murals in our bedroom. The carpenter’s tool chest was my great-grandfather’s.

Image above: The Chinese red lacquer chairs are from my paternal grandmother.

Image above: Door hardware

Image above: Kids’ guest room/my office. The Chinese panda and tiger paintings were in my late father’s office. I dressed up plain Martha Stewart vertical file folders with fun accent paper. Acrylic console, CB2. My daughter’s wood and chalk laptop is next to mine.

Image above: My closet is long and skinny — 8 1/2’ wide but only 33” deep, so I use a combination of retail face-outs and cubbies for storage. To create custom book illustration cubbies for my closet, I used inexpensive bins from Ikea, an old copy of Blueberries for Sal and some Mod Podge. (The project instructions are here.) Those are custom New Balance 574s that I designed on newbalance.com. My twins’ initials are on the heels. Closet paint is Benjamin Moore Mountainview.

Image above: The twins’ nursery. The cribs are from Ikea. We painted them with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Sea Green. Painting all the slats on both cribs turned out to be a major undertaking right before the twins were born. I designed the valances and ottoman skirt with Elizabeth Eakins fabric, and my mom’s friend sewed them for us. My mom made the changing-table bin wraps with some of my fabric samples — also from Elizabeth Eakins. The walls are grass cloth with Benjamin Moore Stormy Monday trim. The sign above the cribs is from a carnival in the ’50s.

Image above: In the twins’ room, we disguised a rather awkward chimney with an antique mantel and chalkboard paint. Shanna Murray illustrated decals are on the chalkboard; bear print is krisblues via Etsy; blackbird watercolor is atelier28 via Etsy; small reclaimed frames are Recycled Relics via Etsy. Leather loop dresser pulls are from Doug Mockett & Company. (Image by Kirsten Marchand)

Image above: Brainstorming in my office. I found the vintage director’s chair on Etsy.

Image above: Out in the yard this summer. Boat from Tweet Toys.

Image above: Everyone at the front of the house.

Image by Kirsten Marchand

Suggested For You


  • Kirsten! I had a blast shooting your gorgeous home. Your strong attention to detail easily comes through. You considered every single inch in terms of composition and color. I was very impressed! It would take five blog posts to detail all of the thoughtful creative aspects of your home.

  • I love everything about this sneak peek. The light, the colors, the murals and this feeling of cosyness and subtle nostalgia. Thank you!! ^^

  • Absolutely lovely throughout. I love the murals, and the twins’ room is beyond amazing.

  • What a lovely home…I’m a sucker for a historic one especially. And TWINS too like me…finally another stylish twin nursery!

  • What a beautiful balance of modern and historical! Each room feels rooted in a New England aesthetic, but it never seemed fusty, precious, or overwrought. Well played!

  • Love this home! We’re a young family and also just bought a historical home in Massachusetts. We’re trying to keep it work for our modern lives while respecting all of the old and wonderful details and quirks that made us fall in love with the house. Thank you for showing me how it can be done! :)

  • What seems to make this home really stand out is the attention to detail. Everything from the materials, colors and furniture really come together. There’s no doubt that the process to get to this point took serious time and effort but I imagine it was well worth it. Thanks for a look inside!

  • I’ve lived on the northshore of Boston for most of my 37 years but have never heard of Rocks Village! Don’t think many around here refer to it that way.

  • Wow. Perfect. So hard to find traditional these days and you do it beautifully.

  • Your home is beautiful but I just died when I saw the Blueberries for Sal illustrations on those boxes! My next project. Thanks for sharing!

  • I am loving the homely look. Its very quiet with beautiful colour-combination and amazingly designed good quality furniture. The attention to the detail is simply impeccable. Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  • What are the large leafed plants either side of the front door….fabulous house and garden, thanks for sharing

  • I think the way you have incorporated articles representing your family into your home is amazing, especially touches like your father’s panda and tiger paintings, your grandfather’s apron, etc. It can be difficult to weave furniture and heirlooms – each one connected to such special memories from growing up – into your overall decor, but you have truly succeeded in every way! Beautiful!

  • For the commenter inquiring about the large leafed plants by the front door: it’s difficult to confirm from a distance, but I think they are hostas. Lady Isobel Barnett hostas to be specific. Apologies if that’s not correct. :) They tend to grow very well in New England.

  • Wow! What a beautiful home and what a testament to the wonderful work you are in the midst of doing for our new retail concept. Thanks for sharing a little bit of you….it says a lot.

  • absolutely gorgeous home. Just my taste. Probably my favorite I’ve seen in here. I love older homes, they have such character and you emphasized the beauty and protected the dangerous parts creatively and functionally. The little elements of whimsy are just so lovely, like the whale lamp and the bins in the closet. very well done.

  • Your home is my dream home. Just gorgeous! I love the murals, but most of all I love how you played off them with your decor. The Blueberries for Sal bins in your closet are genius. I will definitely be making something similar for my nephews for the holidays. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • your home is a masterpiece! kirsten’s have great taste ;) blueberries for sal is an absolute favorite from my childhood. this tops the list of my fav sneak peaks! thank you.

  • Oh, I love the warm beauty in this home. Those murals are something else! I foresee Blueberries for Sal bins in my near future as well. One questions, did you paint the globe in your office or did it come with the oceans in black? I love it!

  • There are so many amazing things about your home, but your genius closet so inspires me. Amazing aesthetic and functional design!

  • the picture of your daughter with her toy sailboat warmed my heart, a lovely home and a lovlier family!

  • I love the yellow shade of paint on the walls in the twin’s room. Can you tell me what shade that is and who makes it?

  • I’m going to have to agree with Laura’s comment. I had to search ‘Rocks Village’ to figure out in which town this house was located (and I grew up on the N.Shore too).

    Love that you’ve kept the murals and added your own gorgeous details. Color choices are wonderful!

  • We used a grasscloth on the twins walls along with painted trim (Benjamin Moore Stormy Monday). And yes – plants in front are hostas. Thank you!

  • I love every little thing about this place! My bedroom is November Rain, and I can’t believe how much darker mine is! Granted, at the time we were pretty sure we got a bad mix. Your photos have confirmed it. :-) Thank you for sharing your amazing home.

  • Everything about this house is lovely and livable. My favorite house on Design Sponge EVER.

  • Love the house, it is funny how different houses in the US are from their Aussie counterparts. The twins look like fun, bet they are a major handful.

  • As I was touring your home (on Design Sponge), I was thinking,”Wow, now we’re talking!” LOVE the doors, the floors, the latches, Rufus Porter… everything about it! I was so surprised to learn it is in Rocks Village! I grew up in Newburyport and always wanted an antique home. We built a new traditional cape in West Newbury instead. Your home is so inspirational, I just may have to realize that original dream after all. Wow!