Friday, July 31, 2009

FineHome Source

Whether you are looking for a custom screened door or a top notch conservatory, you can find it all at this years FineHome Source home show. Last year we all had a great time meeting people and learning even more about the craftspeople we use and admire. This show has become an opportunity for our clients to meet the people who supply and produce
the high quality products that go into their homes. At the same time architects, contractors, and people who are dreaming of building get a chance to kick the tires on products they may use, all in one place that would take days to see otherwise.
We hope to see you September 26th, 10am to 5pm in Millbrook, right in the middle of town next to the Thorne building-3327 Franklin Avenue. Bring the family, this year like last, there will be bird house painting with non- toxic Mythic Paints.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Philip Hart House-Sleeping Porch

Every old home needs an advocate. A special someone who understands and cares about the details, the history, and the sense of place inherent in a period home. Those advocates may save that home from the wrecking ball or the vinyl siding salesman or the addition that would look better on a gas station. Two of those advocates are David and Nan Greenwood.

Their home is in Hart’s Village just outside of the Village of Millbrook. Philip Hart built his home in 1800 and the village of Hartsville grew around his home and mills. A very early industrialist Mr. Hart owned a gristmill, a sawmill and a fulling(a step in the production of wool cloth) mill. The wood framed home is a stunning example of a center hall Federal design.

Philip Hart’s family in 1889 added a porch to the rear of the home. The first floor was open, off the center hall, and the second-floor porch was screened in and used by the Harts’ daughter-in-law, who suffered from tuberculosis. The family believed she’d be cured if she got plenty of rest and fresh air out on the porch. The porch is now used as a place to retreat and read, a perch to view the property or an outdoor summer bedroom as originally designed.

Nan and David bought the home in 1984; they immediately began a pain staking restoration of the interior and exterior of the home including the rear porch. The Greenwoods have furnished the home with period antiques and art work giving the home a most comfortable and beautiful style.

Bedroom Addition

About fifteen years ago my wife and I bought a circa 1790 farm house that had been added on to over the centuries. We restored portions of the house and renovated others. When our children outnumbered the available bedrooms, we decided to add on.

Like many farm houses, ours was built close to the road on one side and next to a hill on the other. Of the two sides left, only one allowed us to add a bedroom without destroying another.

After trying many alternatives, I was able to design a bedroom and master bath addition on the second floor with the bonus of a spacious open porch below. By using foam insulation in the ceiling of the porch, we were able to create two of the warmest rooms in the house.

By building the porch on a full foundation, we also have the option in the future to glass in the porch and easily add heat if additional space is needed.

The design of this addition, like all of our designs, was the product of a patient search. The clients were some of the most demanding people; my wife, my children, and myself.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


In my house I am almost always the first one up. As I walk down the stairs to get my coffee it is comforting to know that in the mid 1800s the builders did their job well. There are no creaks when I step (except from me) and the rise and run of the stair are quite comfortable.

Friends, family and clients I know aren’t always so lucky, especially if their stairs were built in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Those stairs can be so steep that you have to lean back just to stay vertical and to avoid hitting your head. The owners of period homes who face those stairs each morning generally fall into two categories: ‘Love the charm, wouldn’t change a thing’ or ‘can’t stand another day like this, we need a second set of stairs’. I can understand both points of view.

The creation of a beautiful stair requires an eye for design and the discipline to maintain strict compliance with building codes. There are an infinite number of ways to design a successful stair, but you can find just as many ways to miss the mark.

A beautiful stair can be the showpiece of a home. It can set the tone as visitors enter the front door or be a secret passage the attic or the master bedroom. A stair can also be a constant annoyance or even a hazard. The extra time it takes to make a staircase special is always worth it. Even if it is not grand or expensive a well designed stair is special and may be special for generations.