Real Couple Home Tour: In Plain Sight

open shelving
Photo: Getty
Meet a New England couple who have nothing to hide (literally). Here's how they keep their new home clutter-free.
  1. The Couple

    Best friends who grew up in neighboring towns in New Hampshire, Emerson and Ryan run the e-commerce site EmersonMade together. The company, which sells locally made women's clothing (their new line of silk prints debuts this spring!), accessories and housewares, was officially born two years ago when the duo was living in New York City. Emerson, a classically trained painter, started making large fabric flowers for herself to wear. After more and more women kept asking where she got them, she decided to sell them online. And from there, the company has grown rapidly. After 10 years in NYC, the couple moved themselves and the new company back home to New Hampshire. Now Ryan runs all the day-to-day operational stuff ("I'm her lackey!" he jokes), while Emerson focuses on being the creative force behind the company.

  2. The Home

    Photo by David A Land

    Emerson and Ryan live and work from their modern New Hampshire farmhouse, a 150-year-old Victorian four-bedroom spread with about 7,000 square feet of space. Moving into such a big place could have spelled disaster -- the couple love collecting tons of found objects, art and housewares and easily could have filled up every crevice of their new home with stuff. But they developed a rule: Keep only what they need, and keep it in plain sight. No hidden junk. Then they gut renovated their new pad and designed every room with an open layout and minimal "hiding places" to make sure it stayed clutter-free.

  3. Open Door Policy

    Doorless cupboards force the couple to keep their dishware in order. They keep large items, like their 1930s chemist's mortar and pestle, right on the island instead of junking up their shelves by shoving them in the back.

  4. In The Clear

    Even utilitarian items like lightbulbs look beautiful when they're grouped together.

  5. Show Off

    Emerson uses string and scissors often, both for work and for gifting projects, so she keeps them front and center on the kitchen counter in a glass jar.

  6. Divide and Conquer

    Emerson and Ryan keep their large collection of mismatched vintage flatware in its place and compartmentalized with the help of inerlocking drawer organizers. (From $2, ContainerStore.com.)

  7. Pantry Organization

    Organizing is crucial to Emerson and Ryan's home. Here's how to mimic their system:

    Sort by function: Put all baking supplies together on one shelf; store grains and beans on another shelf. Do the same for spices.

    Stock frequently used items at eye level: "We eat a lot of rice, so that's at the front and center," says Ryan. They keep rarely used items at the top of the pantry, since they need a step stool to reach that shelf.

    Buy grains in bulk and pour into glass jars: Inspired by their favorite New York City Pan-Asian restaurant, which stored teas in beautiful glass jars, Emerson picked up her loot at a local warehouse that was liquidating stock. (Spices can be stored in glass as well, as long as there's no direct sunlight.)

    Use baskets: Keep them on the bottom shelf for teas, odd jars and napkins.

    Label everything: "I have a P-touch by Brother International that I'd use to write silly sayings and I'd stick them around the house," says Emerson. "But once we finished this pantry, it had a real purpose -- I label everything."

  8. Soft Stacks

    All of their towels are piled neatly on an open shelf (okay, there are a few extras in a closet for guests!).

  9. Brand Police

    Extra glass jars from the pantry serve a purpose in the laundry room, where they hold detergent and soap. Not only does Emerson say it helps her know when she's running low on supplies, but she also says removing brand labels and packaging elevates common staples to a raw, beautiful state.