After living in a Brooklyn apartment for 10 years, social media strategist Taylor Swaim was ready for a change. “I wanted to buy something of my own — and that wasn’t possible in the city,” she says. “Then suddenly, there was Covid and remote work, which led me to this little corner of Connecticut.” Today, she gives us a peek inside her sunny house, which was built in the 1800s…
Table and chairs: vintage. Lantern: Target, similar.
On serendipitous moments: When I came across this house, it checked my two house-hunting boxes: it was a historic home and wasn’t a complete gut job. I put in an offer, not expecting to get it (the market was competitive), but it worked out and I was thrilled.
On an unexpected friendship: There’s a groundhog in the garden who gotten really comfortable with me. It’s fun and annoying. He likes to sit on my back steps and sun himself like a dog, which is cute, but he also undoes my garden work.
BACK ENTRANCE/DINING AREA
Dining chairs and slipcovers: Ikea, similar. Table: vintage, “passed down from my grandmother.”
On a crowd-pleasing itinerary: A typical Saturday in the summer, when friends come to visit, is taking them to Washington, a nearby town, and grabbing breakfast at The Po Café. It’s a great diner that’s built in the town’s old post office building. Afterward, we’ll go on a lovely morning hike and stop at the farmer’s market. The markets here are out of this world.
Table, chairs, dresser and mirror: vintage. Rug: Home Depot. Drapery: JCPenney, similar. Lamp: One Kings Lane, similar. Round paper shade: Ikea, similar.
On easy hosting: Back in New York City, I used to be more precious when having people over — like having the perfect cheeseboard or the perfect spread. Now that I’m older, I’ve realized it’s so nice when people pop by on a whim, and we take it easy with a bottle of wine and random snacks. It really is more about enjoying the people you’re with and less about having everything flawless, which was a learning curve going from my 20s to 30s.
Chair: vintage. Candles in fireplace: Pottery Barn. Portrait Art: Josh Young.
On finding your personal design style: I try to not limit myself to one specific style or get all my pieces from one place. Instead, I let myself gravitate toward what moves me. Pieces that make you happy will always work in your home. That’s what makes design timeless.
Portrait Art: Josh Young.
On an affordable art hack: I’m notorious for buying art books and exacto knife-ing pictures I like out of them and framing them. That’s where this Paul McCartney picture came from.
On favorite reads: I really love Mary Karr — she wrote The Liars’ Club, which is an anecdotal memoir about family. And I’ve always loved reading David Sedaris during Christmas time, especially Holidays on Ice.
On bookmarking desserts: I recently invited friends over and served a yummy cardamom and citrus cake. It has olive oil and yogurt, gluten-free almond flour, and a beautiful pink blood orange glaze.
Runner: Esale Rugs “great source for affordable rugs!” Chair and copper tea kettle: vintage. Gingham towel: Target, similar.
On cooking with the seasons: Now that we’re headed into the summer season, I love anything with tomatoes. My friends and I have historically done an ‘annual tomato fest’ in August — it’s a dinner party where every recipe has tomatoes.
Copper fish: vintage, similar.
On small claims to fame: Television writer Amy Sherman-Palladino based Gilmore Girls on this little area of Connecticut. They even talk about our town in the show! Every once in a while, I’ll put an episode on to laugh and catch those moments where they mention our town by name.
Couch: Pottery Barn. Pillow: vintage. Runner: eSale Rugs. Lamp: Martha Stewart for Kmart. Paris illustration: “A gift by my friend Josh Young, it is my former address when I lived in Paris.”
On decor advice to younger self: I look at my old Cup of Jo house tour, and while I still love it, there are a couple of things I see now and think ‘Oh my gosh, that was such a specific moment in design time!’ Like the Chevron rug. I loved it at the time, but it was such a trend.
Drapery: Target, similar. Side table: Target, similar. Coffee table: West Elm. Paint: “Pearly Cotton,” Magnolia.
On living in an historic district: The house next door was built in the mid to late 1600s, and the next closest house was built in the mid 1700s. My house is the ‘youngest,’ which is crazy to think about. The street is beautiful and full of old charm.
DOWNSTAIRS GUEST ROOM
Paint: “Tate Olive,”Benjamin Moore. Bed frame, side table and wardrobe: vintage. Drapery: West Elm. Pillows: Les Indiennes, similar. Duvet: Plain Goods Portrait: antique from Garden Style Living. Portrait light: Amazon.
On favorite pieces: This portrait is so moody and adds a punch of a drama, she’s such a regal looking lady! I wanted to make sure the room matched her mood, so that’s why I ended up going with the green paint. But once I got her on the wall, I felt like she faded into the wall. This light gives her some more oomph. It also provides a nice glow in the evening and some fun drama.
UPSTAIRS GUEST ROOM
Bedding: Dôen, similar. Gingham pillowcase: Les Indiennes. Side table, lamp, mirror: vintage. Horse illustration: Longines Paris Horse Show souvenir. Basket: Target. Floral art: Paint by Numbers (“This was done in lockdown and was featured in CoJ cozy corners!”).
On feminine energy: In the ‘90s, a mom and her two daughters lived here. They actually stopped by after I moved in, which felt really special. They were so happy that another woman was the caretaker of the house because they put a lot of work into it, and they said the house has a feminine energy. That made me feel warm and fuzzy.
Chair and runner: vintage. Photos: Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs. Pom pom blanket: Target.
On making your inner child proud: I call this my ‘Grownup Horse Girl’ room. I started riding in elementary school and rode on the equestrian team in college. These are horse-riding ribbons that I won as a kid. But being a horse girl in the ‘90s was something I was shy about and kept secret; I never talked to my friends about it and didn’t display my ribbons. But now, as an adult, I’m like, ‘You know what, I still really love horses!’ That part of my life will always be important to me, so it deserves a place in my home.
Robe: Ace Hotel, “It’s the best robe.” Paint: “Pearly Cotton,” Magnolia.
On the beauty of slowing down: I’m into listening to music in the morning, lighting a candle, sipping my coffee, and having a nice, slow start to the day. In New York, my morning routine was wakeup, chug a cup of coffee, go to an exercise class and rush to the office. Now waking up with the light and appreciating the start of the day has been such a nice change.
Jewelry holder: Fishs Eddy.
On cool scents: I work for a company that works with fragrance brands, so I get to try a lot of perfumes and candles. I’m currently wearing Parisian Musc, which is really fun — woody and musky with a bit of floral. In my mind, it’s exactly what a cool Parisian girl would smell like.
Dresser, lamp, and mirror: vintage. Checkered rug: Jenni Kayne. Sheepskin rug: Jenni Kayne. Shoes: J.Crew. Bedding: Ralph Lauren via TJ Maxx. Paint: “Berkshire Beige,” Benjamin Moore.
On being a solo homeowner: Since buying this place, I’ve felt a lot of ‘Oh my gosh, you’re doing this alone? You’re a single woman buying a house?’ From a financial perspective, it’s a little intimidating. But the reward is that it’s completely my own. If I want to paint a room olive green, I can. If I want to get floral bed sheets, I can. It’s really nice to have that freedom.
On finding happiness outside of the traditional roadmap: In my 20s, I made the assumption that buying a house was a stepping stone after you got married. But my life didn’t follow that trajectory; and the older I got, the more I realized ‘I can still have the life I envisioned, even if all the boxes aren’t checked.’ And it’s a wonderful experience to not be afraid to go for it and live the life you want, on your own.
Thank you so much, Taylor! Your home is gorgeous.
P.S. More house tours, including another Connecticut home that is the definition of cozy and a laid-back Victorian in Sonoma.
(Photos by Kate Jordan, top photo by Taylor.)
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