Sue’s rustic kitchen table, made by her husband, is paired with a vintage lamp, map, and linen cloth as well as a modern vase.
Back before there was Etsy, each April my aunts and I would throw open the windows of our Cape Cod homes and head directly up the road to Solstice to scout out Sue Teso’s latest and greatest finds. The competition among us to be the first through the door was actually kind of a joke in my family. All Sue would have to do to finalize a sale was mention that one of the Aunties had been snooping around that same object just the day before, and whoosh, sold!
There was a very good reason why Solstice Home was our favorite haunt. Rare among vintage shops, Sue’s was always expertly curated and styled. I don’t know about you, but I find that in many antique stores “old” is the only point of view, and it’s less than inspiring. Countless dark and decrepit things are thrown pell-mell on top of each other in space that’s equally damp and dusty, leaving you to sort through it all and re-imagine it in a more lively setting. This is usually just too taxing for my design abilities, and I leave exhausted and confused.
By contrast, Sue’s shop was nothing but pure joy. Not just a collector, Sue was a designer, and this point of view was plain the minute you walked in the door. Here were fabulous vintage treasures and natural finds, artfully arranged in a bright, sunny shop. Clean, modern colors: creams, a subtle chartreuse and warm blue, as well as lots of fresh air breathed new life into aged things. Here your brain didn’t have to leap through hoops to conceive of the potential beauty and use of each item. Wonders were presented “with intention” on a table or a shelf, paired with a flower or swatch of linen, just as you might display them in your home. Sue had a uncanny eye for the extraordinary, not matter the time or place from whence it came. And her rare ability to put things together made one see them in a whole new light. In short, it was shopping at its best.
So why am I going on and on about Sue’s store when clearly we’re taking a tour of her lovely home here? Well, because as you can see, Sue’s house also exhibits the same level of exquisite detail and styling that her shop always did. It is bright and clean, full of vintage character but not cluttered or old fashioned. It has a sense of time, place, family, and most importantly a sense of Sue.
Much like her shop, Sue’s home is a treasure trove. Her own family heirlooms and vintage finds, as well as those from her (now) Etsy shop, are everywhere. As you walk around you continually make great discoveries: an exquisite old seaweed print, a rare Chinese tea chest, an antique watchman’s clock. Each object tells a story, evokes a conversation. Since the home is on Cape Cod, naturally there are many nautical items and articles from Sue’s beach combing. But Sue never overdoes it, drowning you in beach cottage cute. Her family is also present in the form of photos, artwork and hand-made items by 3 generations of kin. But yet the home does not feel choked with tchotchkes. With so much light and air surrounding objects, the effect is rather minimalist, but in a very cosy, familial way. Put simply, there is balance in the home – mid-century modern paired with rustic charm, old with new, nature with machine. The whole house is a real lesson on the cohesiveness that comes, not from following a style or trend, but from really knowing yourself and what you like. It creates a home that tells a story and an interesting one at that.
Alas Sue is moving clear across the country to Portland, OR, so our design tete a tetes will soon be more cyber-based. (Of course she still has her Etsy shop. Although now it’s not just my Aunts that I have to compete with, but the whole world!) But at least for a time I got to learn in person from this design master from whom I have been fortunate to absorb more than just stuff.
Sue’s living room with antique prints and mid-century modern furniture. The glass end table belonged to Sue’s mother who instilled in her a love of design. Sue also still has her mother’s jewelry box, made by Sue’s Dad, as well as a wooden plane her father crafted for her brother.
Two views of Sue’s entry: The folksy table by the door holds daffodils and beach finds, while further down the hall another work of Mother Nature’s hangs above an equally lithe antique garden bench. The little green table has a very funny story behind it. Apparently my family is not the only one who sometimes experiences a little shopping rivalry. Sue and Kim both spotted this gem at flea. But being a good Mom, Sue let Kim have it. Then later Sue bought it from Kim as the former had the more perfect spot for it.
The “formal” dining table in front of floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall shelves. When Sue bought the house, these all had closed cabinets. To open up the space, Sue removed all the doors on the top section. The shelves now house the vast majority of her collection.
P.S. Many of the things you see are available at Solstice Home. You should also check Sue’s blog to get a sneak peak at upcoming items. But if you see something you like, just be warned. You may have to fight me for it.