“I’m a city person. When I looked out the window all I could see was greenery and water,” scoffs Anne Holland, as she recounts first moving to Portsmouth, Rhode Island from DC. “The first day I looked out the window of my new house in Providence, I burst into tears of relief because I could see people walking on the sidewalk right outside.” If Holland’s name is familiar it’s because she is co-founder
of What Cheer Writers Club, the skyrocketing nonprofit that offers professional support and coworking space for journalists, creative writers, illustrators, and podcasters.
Once she and cats Sunny and Freddie moved into the center-hall Colonial built in 1927 by Zelig Fink, Holland began planning renovations which would include turning the dining room into a library for her massive book collection. However, not long after, a terrible house fire caused by old electrical wires in the attic resulted in severe property damage. Luckily, Holland was working from home that day and was able to save the cats and call the fire department. Also luckily, all the house’s original windows were at Heritage Restoration being restored (she was making do with storm windows only) and her books, along with some art, were in storage. “Pretty much everything else was lost,” says Holland.
The rebuild took nearly a year and once complete, Holland was concerned that the interior would look too new and slick. “I wanted it to feel as though I’d lived there for years – with warmth, color, and layers of intimate history.” To achieve this look, she deliberately sought things of varying styles and periods, doing much of her shopping at auctions and having pieces like $5 chairs reupholstered at Kreatelier. “When I couldn’t find the right thing, I commissioned it. It can be cheaper than high-end stuff, and you get what you want.” Holland also credits Elizabeth Randall Designs for helping with both the rebuild and decorating.
For interior spaces, Holland is drawn to rich colors like mossy greens and periwinkle blues; she likes black leather, orange and raspberry velvets, and cites warm lighting as critical to her aesthetic. “I look for light bulbs with warm light, which means preferably 2,200 kelvins; my fixtures are dimmable or multi-setting, and I’m always tweaking to get the perfect warm glow.”
“People are always surprised to learn there was a fire and that so much of the house and its contents are new, new to me at least,” Holland says. “It truly feels like I’ve been here for years. That makes me happy.”