After living in a Brooklyn walkup 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, with photos by Kate Jordan…
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), so I was thrilled when it worked out.
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.
Dining chairs and slipcovers: Ikea, similar. Table: vintage, “passed down by my grandmother.”
On a crowd-pleasing itinerary: A typical Saturday in the summer, when friends come to visit, is taking them to 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 morning hike and stop at the farmer’s market. The markets here are out of this world.
On easy hosting: Back in New York City, I used to be more precious when having people over — like having the perfect cheeseboard or 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.
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 love the author Mary Karr — she wrote The Liars’ Club, which is a wonderful anecdotal memoir about family. And I always read 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 blood-orange glaze.
On cooking with the seasons: Now that we’re headed into summer, I love anything with tomatoes. My friends have historically held 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 area of Connecticut. They even talk about our town — Woodbury — 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.
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.
On living in an historic district: The house next door was built in the 1600s, and the next closest house 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 by Benjamin Moore. Bed frame, side table and wardrobe: vintage. Chandelier: antique, “passed down from my grandmother.” Drapery: West Elm. Pillows: Les Indiennes, similar. Duvet: Plain Goods. Portrait: antique from Garden Style Living. Picture light: Amazon.
On special pieces: This portrait adds a punch of drama — she’s such a regal looking lady! I wanted the room to match her mood, so I went with olive green paint. But once I hung her up, she faded into the wall. This battery-powered light gives her more oomph. It also provides a nice evening glow.
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 (“I did this during lockdown, and it was featured in CoJ cozy corners!”).
On feminine energy: In the 1990s, a mom and her two daughters lived here. They actually stopped by after I moved in. They were so happy that another woman was the caretaker of the home 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.
On making your inner child proud: I call this my ‘Grown-up Horse Girl’ room. I started riding in elementary school and rode on the equestrian team in college. I won these ribbons as a kid. But being a horse girl in the ’90s was something I felt shy about and kept secret; I never talked to my friends about it and didn’t display my ribbons. But, 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.
On the beauty of slowing down: I like listening to music in the morning, lighting a candle, sipping my coffee, and having a slow start to the day. In New York, my morning routine was: wake up, chug coffee, go to an exercise class and rush to the office. Waking up with the light and appreciating the morning 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 different perfumes and candles. I’m currently wearing Parisian Musc, which is woody and musky with a bit of floral. In my mind, it’s exactly what a cool Parisian girl would smell like.
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 mine. If I want to paint a room olive green, I can. If I want to sleep in floral bed sheets, I can. It feels good to have that freedom.
On finding happiness outside of the traditional roadmap: In my 20s, I assumed 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 certain 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.
(Photos by Kate Jordan for Cup of Jo.)
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