Saturday, July 12, 2008


My daughter found a perfect little bird's nest yesterday. It seemed a fitting photo. We've been working so hard to feather that nest of a barn for today's open house...I stayed up late last night with my mom...still so much to do...a work in progress! I woke up early to finish baking brownies and citrus shortbread. Now I'm off to the pick arm-loads of flowers to fill up every vase we can find. I'm thinking of all of you dear readers, my new sweet friends, as we open the doors...
The following is something my mother put together for today's guests at the barn. Every local, interested in finding out more, has been invited...including all of the people that keep slowing down to oggle at the poppies out front!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

“This barn was built by Chas Clapp in the winter of 1888 and it was a warm open winter no sleighing”. -handwritten letter from Chas Clapp found wrapped in butcher paper and tied with a string behind the walls of the stall.

To tinker with a house is to commune with the people who have lived in it before and to leave messages for those who will live in it later. Every house is a living museum of habitation and a monument to all the lives and aspirations that have flickered within it. The goal is not to extinguish those flickering lives, nor create a historical stage set where modern appliances are seen as unscripted intruders. Have the honesty and confidence to leave your mark and personality.”-Stewart Brand

Chas Clapp was one of two sons of a local minister. He served in the Civil War and returned home to become a machinist. He had a workshop on the second floor of the barn with a workbench and a wood burning stove to keep warm in winter. His workbench will be moved to my art studio, the former hayloft.

Various artifacts were found in the eaves and behind the walls of the barn during deconstruction including the above handwritten note, several early movie posters, signage and simple mechanical devices possibly used for removing snow from the roof, positioning a light over his workbench and hauling firewood in the winter. C.S. Clapp,

Chas’s only son, constructed a small stall in the barn in 1898 for several animals, located where my kitchen stands today. The original trough has been salvaged and is being used as a raised bed kitchen garden. As far I can tell, there was no house on the property. Chas probably lived in town and took care of several animals housed in the stall below his workshop.

Leave at least one element untouched. It is like a calling card from the past.

Throughout the conversion/renovation process, design and construction decisions were determined by budget, function, style, sustainability and a strong desire to honor the past. Elements that were untouched were the configuration of the windows on the north exterior side, the original scalloped tin roof (to be recoated in traditional silver), and the wooden floors which were patched where necessary, lightly sanded and preserved with Tung oil. The floor beams and braces on the ceiling of the main floor were kept intact as well. All the interior doors were salvaged from the barn including the sliding stall barn door that has been relocated to the downstairs bedroom,

Vernacular buildings have a timelessness and universal appeal precisely because they grew out of a solid connection with nature and their environment. They were built using materials that were on hand. But there is a danger that we venerate these kinds of buildings at the expense of growth. Our emotional attachment to mellow, time worn materials should not blind us to the possibilities of marrying old and new in a dazzling alliance.

From the beginning, I was committed to this “dazzling alliance” of blending old and new. It has been an exciting challenge to juxtapose and contrast the best of modern technology with the character and soul of the past. I have been fortunate to work with Robb Johnsrud, a LEED certified contractor who understood my vision and was able to use his knowledge and expertise to build such a wonderful, inventive structure for living, working and creating! Our guiding motto was to reuse/repurpose/recycle and make the barn as “green” and sustainable as I could afford. The following is a list of the design and construction ideas we used.


    • Stall and barn wood used for stair siding, pantry and utility corridor doors
    • Original floors: patched rotted floor in stall/new kitchen
    • Left floor beam ceilings exposed
    • Existing original tin roof and exterior front facing (left barn doors and front window placement)
    • Original lumber for porch and deck beams
    • Vintage heating grate as light transom in bedroom and bathroom
    • Sliding barn stall door for bedroom
    • Crouse Hinds light sconce
    • Corrugated metal for stairwell and entry porch awning
    • Trough as raised bed kitchen garden
    • Hog wire allows natural daylighting at end of stairwell
    • Galvanized pipe banisters (interior and exterior)
    • Magnetized 20 guaged sheet metal backed open kitchen cabinets
    • Stonco Roughlite Series industrial entry lights
    • Porcelain sinks in kitchen and bathroom
    • Hardware, doorknobs, drawer pulls, brackets
    • Hot water radiators
    • Interior doors
    • Vintage gasoline station shop lights


    • Efficient heating system: Baxi European boiler and on-demand hot water combo
    • Insulated basement “crouch” space
    • Energy Star appliances: Frigidaire stainless steel refrigerator, Peerless Premier American made pro series stove, stove hood, Fisher Paykel dishwasher drawer, Frigidaire washer/dryer, The Modern Fan Company stainless steel fan, Toto low flush toilet
    • Soy based insulation
    • Low voc paint/Benjamin Moore Aura series-custom formula “Sudi White”
    • Farbo Marmoleum linoleum: linseed oil/jute
    • Concrete counter
    • Concrete entry pad functions as a mini-mudroom
    • Tung oil on original floors
    • Re-sited barn 35’ away from woods for more natural day lighting and greater southern exposure
    • Installed 15 new thermal pane windows
    • French doors with glass
    • Natural tree shading in summer


A Pattern Language: Towns Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand

Restoration Home by Mark and Sally Bailey

Country and Modern by Dinah Hall

Decorating Junk Market Style by Sue Whitney and Ki Nassauer

Thank you to everyone who helped me rescue this beautiful old structure and make it my own, especially my daughter Maya, whose design sense and decision-making skills never cease to amaze me!

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  1. I so wish I were able to come and wander around!

  2. sounds like a beautiful dream come true! enjoy the day... i'll be with you in spirit - congrats!

  3. How exciting! Wish I could come to the open house... i love stuff like that. Once a year my hometown has a candle walk at Christmas and several older homes open for an open house. They tell the history of the house and what they've done to restore it. The houses are just beautiful. It's one of my favorite things to do.

  4. What a beautifully written, thoughtful post! The quotes summed up so nicely your guiding philosophy for the barn, and you've carried that out so well.

    The nest is such a powerful metaphor for what you and your mom have constructed. I like thinking of you two as mama birds gathering twigs and weaving them together into something even greater than the sum of its parts.

  5. OO-wish I could have come--can;t wait to hear how it went---what an incredible and heartfelt undertaking...congratulations!

  6. your little barn sound so very cool. i can't wait to see pics of it all finished.

  7. hello! today I've just found you and I can't like more your blog, house and DIY's! thanks...
    the most absolutely nice thing is that the same day you found your Nest, I've found other in my garden! look, please...
    isn't nice?

    alvaro sanz