Name: Milicent Armstrong, Brian, and Gerry
Location: South End — Boston, Massachusettes
Size: 1,800 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, owned
Walking into Milicent’s South End home is like being invited into a small oasis. Upon entering, guests step into a hallway with soaring ceilings and beautiful wallpaper. Milicent’s colorful and eclectic living room is filled with vintage and handcrafted pieces, while her bedroom is subdued and dreamy with unique textiles and belongings that span her entire life. The same sensibilities that inspired Milicent to launch her lifestyle label Artemis Design Company — including a self-described passion for collecting, travel, and a love of all things beautiful — shape how she decorates her home. Her creativity and collector’s eye are apparent everywhere you look.
Milicent has taken her time settling into the space. After five years, she has a strong sense of form and function in home design. She and her fiancé Brian have started to slowly renovate the space, beginning with cutting a window between the galley kitchen and the living room. “It transformed the space for when we have friends over,” Milicent, a skilled hostess, said of the change. “Now people don’t all crowd in the tiny kitchen, but Brian and I can stay engaged while we do things together.”
Milicent recommends living in a space for a while before taking on similarly ambitious renovations. “There were so many ideas I had when I first moved in, that I now recognize would have made no sense,” she explained, “I’m glad I waited until I’d really lived in the space. Now we know what we want out of it.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I have the same style when designing my home as I do with the products we sell at Artemis Design Co. Everything has to fit the description of being charming, natural, and comfortable. Our products feel a little bit magical, they transport you to a different time and place — like our kilim shoes, which are all handmade from (flying) kilim carpets that I source in Turkey and Morocco. I like for my interiors to be mood changing and transporting in this sense.
Inspiration: I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly when I travel. Right now, I’m inspired by stark Maine cottage interiors — like ones you’d see in a Wyeth painting — and Southern porches. We redid our guest room to feel like a big old porch in Savannah, Georgia: light blue (haint blue) on the ceiling, white washed walls, white shutters, hardwood floors, funky wooden furniture accents, and lots of ferns and greenery. Our very talented handyman and carpenter Jucimar Nascimento did our hardwood flooring and shutters.
Favorite Element: I love the bay windows in my bedroom. It makes our room feel like a treehouse. In the winter when it snows, it feels like we’re in a snow globe.
Biggest Challenge: Our TV is in a cabinet behind a big chair, so every time we want to watch something we need to move plants and furniture around to open the cabinet. I really dislike how the screen of a TV looks, so we made sure it was tucked out of sight when not in use.
What Friends Say: They love the coziness and comfort of the space. They either love or hate our sofa and chair set. We put a window between our kitchen and living room to open our kitchen up, and it has been the biggest improvement and best money we’ve spent so far. Before, when we had friends over, everyone would gather around the kitchen (which is about 24 square feet). Now, everyone can spread out more comfortably and it doesn’t hinder the conversation.
Biggest Embarrassment: We’re really not embarrassed by this, but so many of our furniture pieces and plants were found on either Craigslist or the street. We might be a little embarrassed if a neighbor came over and saw one of their old plants that they had discarded in our living room!
Proudest DIY: My fiance and I put up peg board in our little galley kitchen. It was a huge challenge, but so worth it. We had to drill into brick while holding up the heavy peg board, and the whole thing was at a very awkward angle. We got the idea from Julia Child’s kitchen in the movie Julie & Julia and loved it, plus we needed extra storage for our pots and pans. We painted it a very deep purple/gray color (Benjamin Moore Abyss) so that the wall would recede and make our tiny kitchen feel larger.
Biggest Indulgence: Our Percival Lafer mid-century sofa and chair set and the wallpaper in our hallway (although I traded that for shoes!). It was so worth it because it transformed the space.
Best Advice: My aunt gave me some great advice: “Just put together things that you love and make it your own.” Having a basic understanding of color theory is very helpful. Live in a space for a while before you make any major changes. You really have to live there to understand how the space works and what it needs.
Dream Sources: Any bazaar or souk in an exotic country. Antique stores in Maine have so many treasures. I also absolutely love ABC Carpet & Home in NYC.
PAINT & COLORS
Living room — Benjamin Moore Cream
Living room ceiling — Benjamin Moore
Kitchen cabinets — Benjamin Moore Cream
Kitchen peg board — Benjamin Moore Abyss
Guest bedroom — Farrow & Ball All White in Estate Emulsion
Guest bedroom ceiling — Benjamin Moore Opal Essence
Wallpaper — Bob Collins & Sons
Sofa and chair set — Antique designed by Percival Lafer
Cushions — Ikat pillows from Artemis Design Co.
Lambskin throws — IKEA
Moroccan rug — Artemis Design Co.
Coffee table — Antique Scandinavian piece
Plants — Niche Urban Garden Supply in South End, Boston
Pitcher — Myrth Ceramics
Rug — IKEA
Painting — Sam Cady, a cousin of mine, painted this in oil on canvas
Heading indicator — Antique from Skinner Auction House
Bed — Antique spindle-turned bed
Bedding — Matouk
Striped pillowcases — IKEA
Coverlet — Hand-me-down from my great grandmother
Painting — John Dwight Bridge, my great grandfather who painted portraiture, and then was recruited to paint camouflage in WW2.
Moroccan carpet — Artemis Design Co.
Dresser — Antique
Chair — Craigslist (upholstery by Cody Nowell)
Plants — Niche Urban Garden Supply in South End, Boston
Plant stands — IKEA
Heading indicator — Antique from Skinner Auctioneers
Green Bowl — From a souk in Marrakech, Morocco.
Guest bedroom remodel — Jucimar Nascimento is an incredibly talented do-it-all kind of carpenter in the Boston area. He helped to transform our visions to realities, and was amazing to work with.