In 2015, I was approached by a couple that was moving back to their hometown, and wanted to restore and add onto their family’s 100 year old farmhouse. The project was very intriguing as there were many elements they wanted to save and reuse during the project. There was also a fireplace mantle that the wife’s grandfather had built out of a tree on the property that had been struck by lighting, and that was intended to be used as inspiration for the new design. The challenge, in essence, was two-fold:
- Preserve the rich history and memories of the house
- Achieve a modern design that was enjoyable to live in, while not covering up the beloved history of the house
Because of the elements that needed to be preserved and reused, it was imperative that the plans communicated this clearly. On the plans, each element to be removed was individually noted as to whether it was disposed of or whether it was to be reused later. In addition, careful coordination was required in order to ensure that each element was identified and used again in the correct location.
Another important element of the design was the staircase. The clients wanted a staircase that was unique, and expressive of their desire to go above and beyond anything typical of that region. I got to work, and designed a staircase that, in essence, seemed to float above the floor, as no part of it rested on the floor, and instead was either attached to the wall or suspended from the ceiling. It was intricately detailed, and was nowhere near any design that would have been considered typical for that region. The only problem was that the contractor was not comfortable building it.
A successful execution of the staircase was going to require an extreme amount of precision, the kind one would see on a piece of furniture. In order to see the design through, I offered to build it, and the clients and builder agreed. So I became, not only the architect, but also the staircase subcontractor. The result was incredible, and the clients love it. When they bring visitors to their home, they love to show off their staircase, just as they would an exotic piece of furniture. The takeaway from the story is that I want my clients to receive the very most that they possibly can, and that money and experience do not always need to limit what can be achieved. When there is a desire to achieve something great, creativity and perseverance can help make it happen.