Swallowfield, Jennifer Judd-McGee’s charming artist-owned home goods shop in Northeast Harbor, specializes in Scandinavian Style.
Papercut artist Jennifer Judd-McGee lives just one mile from Swallowfield, her charming home goods shop in Northeast Harbor. Even on a blustery day in November, the store is open, and as I walk in Judd-McGee looks up from her task of tying ribbons onto laser-cut ornaments.
While many shops on Mount Desert Island close for the winter, Judd-McGee (and her two partners, Patti Savoie and Michelle Souza) knew from the beginning that they wanted to keep the doors open for off-season visitors. “It’s quiet here in the winter,” she says, “but I always felt like I wanted to have a business that would be open every month. I wanted to have some lights on in town, and to appeal to both summer people and local people.” The shop is less than a year old, but already, Judd-McGee says, business has been brisk.
This is due, in large part, to her eclectic yet highly specific style. “This shop looks like a crowded version of how my house looks,” the artist says with a warm smile. She mentions the Danish term hygge, a word that has no direct translation in English but that means, according to the Danish tourism website, “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of a candlelight is hygge. Friends and family—that’s hygge, too.”
“I feel like that’s what I’m trying to do in here,” Judd-McGee says. “I want it to be nice, but accessible and cozy. And nothing takes itself too seriously.” The result is a shop that is packed with nature-inspired artwork and stacked with books that celebrate owls, rocks, and feminist leaders. There are white hanging porcelain candleholders that are shaped like bird’s eggs and wooden blocks that look like rocks for children. There are calendars by Nikki McClure, coloring books by Blue Butterfield, and glassware by Erin Flett. But although many of the artists featured in Swallowfield reside in Maine, Judd-McGee also sources work made by artists and crafters from across the country. “It’s mostly people I’ve done work with,” she says, “or people I know from selling online.”
For Judd-McGee, it has never been difficult figuring out what to stock. Her personal style is Scandinavian influenced, airy, and light. She likes imperfect edges and style that leans slightly left of center. A recent venture involved selling Hillary Clinton–themed prints online, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood (before she moved to Northeast Harbor, Judd-McGee ran the Portland location of the women’s health clinic).
The store also stocks quite a few pieces made by Judd- McGee, including birchwood trays printed with her designs and original pieces of papercut art. With her love for paper, it’s no surprise that she stocks a delightful amount of clever, sassy, and cheeky cards. “I’m a huge, huge sucker for stationery,” she says. “I love sending cards.” In our digital era, that seems like a hygge idea, indeed.
Jennifer Judd-McGee’s tips on how to create a hygge home
- In her shop and in her home, Judd-McGee prefers pieces that are “comfortable and cozy over fussy and formal.” To keep things interesting, she suggests using a variety of textures in similar color tones. “I like using natural wood partnered with soft and cozy textiles, and natural light streaming in through the windows whenever possible,” she says.
- To beat the winter blues, she suggests using a hodgepodge of various candles, grouped together. Vary heights, sizes, and shapes to create a pretty, glowing centerpiece on the kitchen table.
- This mix-and-match approach works with pottery, too. “We use mostly mismatched dishes that have a common color or design to bring them together,” she says. Choose a color palette (blue and white, or greens and grays) and seek out various prints in these harmonious tones. (Judd McGee herself collects Franciscan Ware Atomic Starburst pottery.)
- Plants and art play well together, according to this botanically inspired artist. “I like to create small organized groupings,” she says. “I use small, framed photos of my families and pieces of original art by artists I like, and mix them with different sizes and styles of pots filled with various succulent plants.”