Name: Chris & Hannah Garrison
Location: Woonsocket, Rhode Island
Size: 1,900 square feet
Years lived in: 9 months
The entrance to Chris and Hannah Garrison's loft is inauspiciously located between a wiener shop and a karate studio in downtown Woonsocket, Rhode Island — a former mill town about 20 minutes north of Providence that has seen its ups and downs. But inside and up the stairs is a breathtaking space, restored using reclaimed materials, many of which came from local sources.
The renovation had been started by the previous owner and was about halfway done when Hannah and Chris bought the building, which also includes spaces for her custom jewelery business, Azu Studio, his photography business, a rental apartment, and the storefronts downstairs. The couple have spent the last nine months completing the work and making the space their own. Happily, details like the stenciled wall paintings and luxurious black slate bathroom (that we got a sneak peek at in November) were already finished when they moved in and fit perfectly with their style, but they've still had plenty to do, much of it involving the constant maintenance of a 130-year-old building. But as surely as elbow grease makes the heart grow fonder, Chris and Hannah would never trade the character of their diamond in the rough for a more conventional space. Before friends and family visit their loft, Hannah says, they all ask,“Why do you live in Woonsocket?” After they come, they all get it.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My/Our style: At the moment, cheap or free! Modern, simple, reclaimed, recycled broken but fixable, dirty but cleanable.
Inspiration: Stuff from the street. Both of our mom’s have collected junk since before we were born, we’re continuing the tradition. Just yesterday we found this great chair in the trash on the street and it was raining and we could barely fit it into our car. I think we need a bigger car.
Favorite Element: The big ole slate shower (except when cleaning it). Actually, all of the reclaimed goods. Soapstone sinks, the beautiful antique Glenwood stove. Also the very odd layout, bedrooms downstairs, living space and library upstairs. It is upside down, but it works for us and we get AMAZING light.
Biggest Challenge: Cleaning? The fact that it was built in 1879…Nothing is straight, so things like trim are very hard. Anytime you have an old building you have to be prepared for some things to be different, it adds character, but during construction or renovation can be frustrating. Also the windows, they are huge and custom and falling apart, so they need constant attention. We say our windows are like Fight Club, you just don’t talk about them…I think maybe we’ll replace one a year. That will take us, ummm, forever?
Biggest Embarrassment: People's perception of the town. And in winter, the plastic on the windows, though as people get more environmentally aware, that is becoming more acceptable.
Proudest DIY: Redoing hardwood floors, stripping layer upon layer of ancient linoleum and vinyl tile.
Biggest Indulgence: Sheets, all cotton, light colors, high thread count. Leather, with two pets, you want to wipe things clean.
Best advice: Be nice to everyone so they will be willing to help you! Take breaks! Realize that it is an ongoing process that is never going to be “finished.” Be flexible. As my aunt said, create a list of things to do this decade.
Dream source: Andersen windows, at the moment.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS: We have this huge closet…Behr, mostly, or anything people are getting rid of!!
APPLIANCES: Bosch, stainless, classic, antique gas stoves
FURNITURE: IKEA, William Katavolos, the garbage!
ACCESSORIES: New England Demolition and Salvage
LIGHTING: Thrift stores and a flexible electrician! Were still looking for the perfect chandelier for the dining room and are open to suggestions!
RUGS & CARPETS: Nope. We like WOOD! Slippers anyone?
TILES & STONES: Slate and soapstone from old mills
WINDOW TREATMENTS: IKEA, where finished curtains are cheaper than raw materials!
BEDS: Yet unsourced…we are trying to source railroad ties and build one.
FLOORING: Old, old trees
The previous owners, designers and architects James Marchbank and Adele Stafford, kept a blog — Honan Block — documenting their renovation of the building.
Thanks, Chris & Hannah!
Images: Sarah Rainwater