Massive computer clean up underway over here. Like all surfaces in my house, I can only stand a certain amount of clutter in my files before I feel like I'm drowning, so here we go! Begone random screen shots and redundant photos!

I just came across these pictures of a house I owned in Montague, MA (population around 800) from December of 2002 to 2007. It was a two family, two acre former llama farm (I got two in the sale) with an enormous old barn, feeble orchard, and wonderful neighbors. I was just 27, completely not rich, unemployed, and only able to buy it with the extreme generosity of a family friend, my parents, rental income and the insane post-9/11 pre-recession interest rates and lending practices. I was an undergrad at Smith and I walked into a bank and asked for a large mortgage and they gave it to me! Times have changed.

Fuck that's a lot of house.

Fuck that's a lot of house.

Buying this house changed the course of my life immeasurably. My future husband lived in town and we very quickly became a couple opening a cafe three doors down in an old mill building. I and my housemates opened our house, barn, and land every Friday night for spirited and slightly embarrassing potlucks ("What's your superpower?") and the relationships I developed in that period are the ones that I count on the most. I don't have old high school friends and having been an older college student who never lived in dorms, I have no old college friends either, so these guys are my guys, you know? I also lost some friends, the way that that happens when living communally, or trying to. And I learned a lot about that I am not in those years; I am not a farmer, landlord, housemate, or cafe owner.  I gleefully fled those roles within the span of 4 years. I fled to a tiny house on a spot of land into a non-profit administration career (I kept the future husband). I never regretted that period in my life but I never yearned for it again either. I'm glad I did that. I'm glad it's over. I'd take this yard back if I didn't have to mow it ever again though.

My son made good neighborhood friends.

My son made good neighborhood friends.

I had no idea that I would become a designer at that point. When it came time to renovate one of the kitchens I went on instinct alone. No research, no reading, design blogs didn't exist, Facebook, Pinterest didn't exist. I just took my limited budget, worked with a carpenter friend, and redid the kitchen. I don't have before pictures  to show you because this was a new age of digital cameras and while I had one, I used it poorly and without much thought for the future of my portfolio!

The general vibe of the place: chicken coop chic.

The general vibe of the place: chicken coop chic.

The second floor kitchen had been put into a bedroom when the house was made into a two family, meaning, it was awkward. It was ugly and cheap; it looked like every bad farmhouse rental in New England. There was no way I could afford much beyond paint, so I did what I could do: took some doors off the upper cabinets, painted it white, put in a new counter top and sink, and added my flourishes where I could: iron brackets, antique hardware, and cozy lighting. It's funny to look at this now; I see the roots of my style: vintage mixed with new, white and turquoise, shabby chic without the saccharine, plant life, nontraditional lighting, collection display. I hadn't discovered midcentury design at that point but this old farmhouse didn't need it anyway. 

Sigh. I still love this kitchen.

Obviously, not styled. Real life shot of an average morning.

Obviously, not styled. Real life shot of an average morning.

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AuthorSarah Reid
CategoriesDesigning!