How to Decorate Your Space like a Cozy Massachusetts Lodge

Create a rustic oasis, no matter where you are.

 minute read

We’ve entered a phase where social media is littered with posts of the sunlight hitting your plant just the right way on your wooden floor (something I’ll be the first to admit), so the idea of curating a space from scratch can feel like a chore. But when I stayed at Tourists – a wooden oasis nestled in the tiny town of North Adams, Massachusetts – the design felt effortless, and like I was more at home than away. From meals served on Hasami porcelain to Harvey Klaus radio sets and handmade navy robes, the relaxed yet curated aesthetic felt right at home amongst the neighboring artists’ loft and Mass MoCA museum.

In anticipation of moving homes this August, I wanted to absorb the beautiful brains behind the motel-inspired lodge, because, truly, even their bedroom lamps have a story. I spoke with Tourists’ designers Julie Pearson and Ben Svenson, who gave me the lowdown on transforming a new home or work environment with intention. With their help, these four tips will help you mold a cozy and chic home for both work and play. Although following them won’t catapult you into the forests of North Adams, it will certainly come close. 

1) Bring nature into your space.

From earthy palettes to organic textures, take cues from the greatest inspiration of all: nature. 

“We didn’t want to have a bunch of bright colors or anything that distracted you – we wanted nature as a focus. We drew a lot from that, with big windows to draw you outside. With an earth tone palette, we brought the color from the outside in. Even with the [Harvey Klaus] radio, it doesn’t feel too contemporary or invasive or bright. The palette is also natural.” – Julie Pearson

“There’s always a preference for a natural material, which shows natural variation (preferably untreated). A paint job without VOCs [a chemical compound that can let off harmful gases and that new-paint smell] gives the material and the air this natural quality. You have more oxygen in your brain; there are no odors. We pulled the building outside; when you walk in and outside of the building on ground level, it’s so powerful. It was a pain in the ass but the reward’s there: there’s white oak on the inside and outside.” – Ben Svenson

2) Investing in vintage is key. 

IKEA furniture has been my go-to when I relocate, but investing in vintage is always a good idea. Selecting lasting pieces is a worthwhile investment, and there’s an intimate nostalgia to thrifting beyond a trend or a sustainability listicle.  

“There is language to the handmade and vintage. Everything feels approachable and comfortable, like it has a soul and a story.” – Julie Pearson

“We were enamored with the idea of making our own things. Julie really brought in a lot of ideas, but one that was totally new was vintage. And that marriage of homemade and vintage together is kind of the language at Tourists.” – Ben Svenson

3) Your environment should feel like home. 

In the age of Instagram collections that function as your apartment’s mood board, decorating your space feels more like creating an art gallery rather than building a home. But the Tourists team created a warm, worn-in ambiance.

“Now there’s this propensity to build something that will last forever, that will look the same way a year later in commercial spaces. But we wanted to create a really domestic setting. When you buy furniture that is stained, you accept a certain amount of loss, and people still treat it with respect. Tourists will be lived-in and show that it was lived in, and that’s very domestic and home-like. It’s how the world was a minute ago.” – Ben Svenson

4) Don’t overthink it. 

At the end of the day, it’s your home – not the cover of Architectural Digest.  

“Buy what you love, even if you don’t know whether it’s going to work. If you love it, it will work. It’s a reflection of you. Home will feel like you. Don’t try to be a design brain. Follow what you love and it will all work.” – Julie Pearson

“Be yourself and other people will listen.” – Ben Svenson

This interview has been edited for clarity.


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