Name: Stacy Hopkins and Mark Meyerrose
Location: Hartland, Vermont
Size: 2,000 square feet combined
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned
My partner Mark Meyerrose and I renovated a partially restored 19th-century barn house with an adjacent stone blacksmith's shop, (dating back to the late 1750s). Finding this place seemed like a godsend since I am a jeweler obsessed with metalsmithing, and Mark has mad carpentry skills; I loved the design work and he could bring our ideas to fruition. Since this is a historical building, we were sensitive to maintaining the historical character, while bringing in some clean, modern design elements, which blend well with the rustic nature of the building.
There is a lot of wonderful detail you can find looking up at the old beams, such as old pencil marks around the joists, large cast bolts and hand-hewn pegs. We also have fantastic cathedral windows upstairs, which were salvaged from the church across the street. Most of the materials we used were salvaged and refurbished materials, aside from our appliances, so all of the DIY projects were low budget. Furniture came from thrift shops, giveaways from friends and some items from my old art studio. Before owning my own place, it was my dream to have a house where everything was made by hand…So far, we are keeping in theme, as nothing is manufactured except our appliances. Everything has a story and was made by my boyfriend, myself, artists, friends, or salvaged and refurbished.
Starting out, we lived in the blacksmith's shop, while we worked on the barn house. We basically had a blank slate for the whole downstairs of the barn house and built the entire kitchen and pantry area ourselves.
One challenge was we didn't have much space for storage. After living in Europe for a while, I'm used to making the most of small spaces, so we designed a storage pantry which doubles as a chalkboard, and created a funky closet with a sliding barn door—lots of shelves and hooks in corners and unusual places…it all helps. Another way in which this house was particularly challenging was that every space was irregular—nothing was square or "normal."
Since the downstairs is all open—living room, dining room and kitchen—we divided the kitchen space by painting silver rays on the floor, which add a touch of fun while specifying the kitchen area. We poured the concrete countertop and refinished the old floors with a light whitewashed finish and brightened up the interior details with a golden yellow on the windows and stairs. We used paint to activate dead space. We had a weird support beam running down a segment of the back wall—this dictated the placement of our table, which broke up the awkward visual and tied together the living room and kitchen in a central, social gathering place.
After living in Italy for over 10 years, being social and exchanging with friends is essential to feeling at home. It was important that our house felt comfortable, bright and inviting since we host a lot during holidays and frequently have friends to dinner.
Upstairs, we had more odd shapes. We tried to use the funkiness to our advantage and created a loft bedroom above the bathroom, left the upstairs open and created a wonderful sitting room for yoga, watching movies, having cocktails or listening to music. We have a small guest bedroom and walk-in closet off to the side. With a lot of odd angles upstairs and wonderful light from the windows, the best thing to be done was to open the space up as much as possible.
Another important feature on our property is the brook running though the backyard and alongside the house. All of the windows of the house look out onto it and the brook can be heard almost all year long—I love the sound of running water and being surrounded by nature. We built a deck outside of the blacksmith's house, which looks out onto the brook and we plan to eventually add a deck to the barn house as well.
Last but not least, our blacksmith's shop is an amazing building, with the old blacksmith's forge in tact, old tool racks and stonework from the late 1750s. I feel this building needs to be open to the community, so we host a lot of public events; jewelry shows, wine dinners, collaborative parties with other designers etc. This building is not entirely renovated as we'd like—we will take down the second floor and expose the stonework all the way up to the ceiling and leave a sleeping loft. It's still in great shape for hosting events and that's next on our list of our renovation projects.
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