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Room Renovation: Project Update

I posted back in January about a three season porch that we decided to convert into a working office/guest room/studio space in our 1875 carriage house. We do not own this house, but with my background, the homeowner and I are working together on the project since I suggested that the space could really be used for more than housing some plants in the summer. This truly is a labor of love with my husband hanging insulation, the homeowner and his friends painting and doing all the finishing work, and me running around with a notebook and pen acting as project manager ordering supplies and keeping everything on track. I also run around with paper and pen because the homeowner is deaf and this is the primary way that we communicate ideas to eachother throughout the day. I actually do more than ‘oversee’, that sounds so snobby, I helped cut and install the insulation and did some sanding and painting, too. I’m a DIY girl so I’m not afraid to use some elbow grease, in fact I actually love the physical part of the project because it gives me an opportunity to learn something. I’d never installed insulation until this project, for instance. Last month, we all decided to suck it up and hired a few contractors for the drywall installation and ceiling, but they clearly didn’t know how to install drywall in a historical home where nothing is straight, thus making huge errors along the way. In the end, I nicely asked them not to come back because we decided to finish the job ourselves. It’s funny, but I should have known better than to hire contractors who show up for the consultation with pages of professional references highlighting all the new home construction projects that they’ve worked on. Big error of judgement on my part. I should have contracted someone that had experience working on historical properties with uneven surfaces. At least I made this mistake in my own home though, as this was the first historical property that I’ve worked on. Again, a great learning experience for me. In the end, it set the project back about three weeks, but the wonderful homeowner finished the work himself and things are back on track.

Our goal for the space was to renovate it to include current amenities (electricity, lighting, space heat since we cannot install heating systems for zoning purposes, additional windows, flooring, walls and a skylight) so we could use it for more than a summer porch. Retaining some of the old charm was also high on the list of priorities, like the small window that “Billy Boy” the horse used 100 years ago, some of the beams and posts, and the beautiful 4″ thick pinewood on the back wall. There was an original ladder in this space, but we recently removed it before the photos were taken because my husband fell off and broke part of it. He was on his way up to the storage loft above the room (The homeowner is replacing the ladder.) I’m sure this will let many of you down, but we are covering the original plank floor with a high grade wool berber carpet, the same carpet that is in the rest of our home. The home is small, so I wanted to keep the rooms unified. I actually like the carpet, it has those lovely loops, is very durable, and being that it’s a neutral color, the room will harmonize with the natural views from the windows, while providing style, comfort and warmth.

If you were in the room, looking outside, you would see lots of green! The room boasts picturesque views of three massive weeping willow trees, a large green backyard with a duck pond, and behind that, rolling fields and apple orchards. The air is sweet during the warmer months when the fragrance of apple blossoms fill the air. We also live near two farm stands, where we walk to every few days to collect fresh fruit, cider, jam, artisan breads, plants and vegetables, many grown or made right here in our town. Here are some photos of Hollis, New Hampshire where we live. we moved up here from Boston, where I lived for 15 years. We’re only 45 minutes from the city and the seacoast, and with my parents still living in Boston, we are still close to them.

Notes: So far during the renovation, we found some beautiful old horseshoe hooks and many nineteenth century iron nails with flat heads, some 3″ long! If you’d like to see them, let me know.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little glimpse into our home. I’ll post some of the ‘during’ photos tomorrow since some things have changed. We are currently leveling out the floor with plywood since the carpet is scheduled to be installed on April 7th. Then, I’ll post more photos over the next few weeks to show you the progress that we’re making until the space is finished. As I post, please feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like below under ‘comments’ so everyone can benefit from our exchange.

(photos: all snapped by moi!)

Posted in uncategorized on March 23, 2006

Reader Needs Your Help

Just in from a decor8 reader… can anyone help her out?

I was trying to find the name of a woman who made couture felt patchwork quilts. I’m sure I saw her featured on your site previously, but now I can’t find her name. It’s not the quilter Denyce Schmidt…any thoughts?

I searched my archives and cannot locate anyone that I had featured, but maybe some of you know of quilt artists who specialize in making them out of felt?

(Thanks for writing in J.A.!)

Posted in uncategorized on March 23, 2006

Foster’s and Design Philadelphia

Foster’s in Philly has some new items from emerging artist, Josh Owens. In celebration of new product designs during the month of April, Foster’s is kicking things off with a cocktail reception in their store on Saturday, April 1st from 4-7 p.m.
If you’re in Philadelphia, please don’t miss it because I’m sure you’ll have a great time meeting Josh and fellow design addicts like yourself. Josh has some great new designs out, my favorites being the Magnito Salt and Pepper Shakers for $9.50 and the Bookends picture frames, set of 2 for $12.50. Both are available online at Foster’s.

While we’re spotlighting Philly, don’t miss the Design Philadelphia Exhibition and Symposium at the Marketplace Design Center on Thursday, April 6th from 10 am to 8 pm. Design Philadephia describes it this way:

A multidisciplinary design exhibition considering the theme of Emerging Neighborhoods, Emerging Design. Seven schools. Seven design disciplines:

? Art Institute of Philadelphia – fashion
? Drexel University – design & merchandising
? Moore College of Art and Design – interior design
? Philadelphia University – industrial design
? Temple University/Tyler School of Art – architecture
? The University of the Arts – multimedia
? University of Pennsylvania – graphic design

Sounds like a lot of fun! There are many other exciting events happening in Philadelphia next month, so make sure you visit the Design Philadelphia website for a complete listing of all design events, including an ASID sponsored tour and a DWR book signing event.

(photos from Foster’s)

Posted in events + markets on March 23, 2006

coffee + cre8tive [mar 23 06]

This photo always makes me smile, snapped in London in 1997 with a $4.99 disposable camera, long before I owned a digital one. There I was, young and naive in Knightsbridge, admiring a witty sign advertising a soon to open Seattle’s Best Coffee shop. The sign made me smile, so I quickly snapped a photo of it as I darted towards the bus, one that my friend had already boarded, her face pressed against the window with arms motioning for me to hurry up. It was only after developing the film that I noticed a traditional black London cab, a great detail that I didn’t even notice at the time, a detail that resulted in a photo that I’ll always cherish.

Thirteen visits to London later, I still reflect upon my earlier adventures photographing anything and anyone that I deemed to be cool. Long before I realized that taking photos inside of Harrods‘ was a huge no-no (I was nearly escorted out of the building once). Even strangers feeding the ducks at Kensington Gardens were photo worthy back then, times when I fearlessly snapped whatever I saw, caring less about who was watching or whether the photo would be of quality or not. I was never on a mission for the perfect photo, yet I always returned from vacations with some beautiful shots.

I wish that I still approached photography that way, haphazardly, without lining things up, adjusting the lens, waiting for people to move so I could get the full shot. Seeing things through the eyes of a girl and not a woman. Looking at everything through naive eyes, thinking all things were so amazing and awesome and worthy of a simple photo, a captured moment of time on paper. Times when I tried to steady the camera from giggling so hard while photographing a business man dribbling pistachio ice cream down his crisp white shirt. Times when we all ran very free, never worrying about what others thought of us, not caring whether a photo would be worthy of framing.

From now on, I will not take a photo because I think it will produce a beautiful picture. I will simply point and click whenever I see something that evokes some feeling in me. I will snap without thought. I will run free as I did in 1997, snapping photos of funny signs in London.

(psst: Harrods’ has a great online home and leisure shopping site…)


Posted in uncategorized on March 23, 2006


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