Though Katie designed this house and Loren crafted many of its details, they maintain a fluid relationship with it, saying, "This home is not our 'baby' — it's not precious to us in that way. Instead, it's our creative project where it's okay if things aren't perfect. Things can change and evolve." The unexpected elements — such as the screened-in porch in the trees — are what they love about their home. Looking at it as a continuous project that unfolds over time (Katie says it takes about five years to really get settled in a home) keeps them interested and free of regrets.
Leaving things to chance is how Katie likes to approach design. In fact, she designed the home in just 24 hours. She originally had a different floor plan for the house, but upon breaking ground on their property, she learned the homesite was actually on top of an old, abandoned septic drain field. She quickly re-arranged the spaces and stacked them on top of each other to fit on a different part of the property, resulting in a taller three-story structure which they now call The Treehouse. The added staircase gave them space in which to tuck another bathroom on the main floor, and the upstairs became sort of an accidental summer guest suite when Katie and Loren discovered they prefer to sleep on the porch, where they can feel the breeze and hear the crickets. Staying flexible has allowed these unforeseen features to emerge and has given Katie and Loren the opportunity to enjoy and inhabit their space in the most natural way, rather than forcing activities into designated rooms.
Many of the materials used throughout the house were obtained in a similar fashion. Not a single sink in the house is new, and various fixtures were created out of found objects. Both raised by yard-sale-going mothers, Katie and Loren like to hit up the junkyards together and give new life to pieces they find. Loren ended up turning this talent into a business called Bare Knuckle Studios. His furniture pieces, with their nuts and bolts proudly exposed, are featured throughout the house. He also built the freestanding kitchen, countertops, and shelving.
Katie, an aromatherapy teacher and the owner of home-based River Island Apothecary, has well-exercised senses which she lives by, and her design aesthetic is no exception. She prefers design that keeps her honest, she says. She intentionally designed the home without closets and the kitchen without cabinets. Katie said she didn't want any place to cheat or any temptations to hide things. As someone who has lived in numerous small spaces — including in an off-the-grid yome and on a motorcycle with a single backpack on long cross-country trips with Loren — Katie is accustomed to a minimalist lifestyle. Possessions have the ability to weigh on a person, and Katie prefers to feel light and free so she can be lifted by those winds of chance whenever they make their next appearance.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Industrial Farmhouse
Inspiration: '80s meets junkyard
Favorite Element: Screened-in porch
Biggest Challenge: Patience
What Friends Say: It's nurturing, has great flow, and thoughtful details.
Biggest Embarrassment: No one can get up our driveway.
Proudest DIY: The kitchen
Biggest Indulgence: Lighting
Best Advice: Think about how you live and inhabit a space, and then design from there.
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