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.
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.
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 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.