Bernadette Léonore February 27, 2021 Home Design
Nestled down a country road, past oak trees, off the road and out of view from anyone passing by, sits a home built from the ground up, for and by homeowners and artists, Vivian and Walter Neill. Also on the large, wooded property is the blacksmith studio of homeowner Walter, a full chicken coop, and the art gallery that the Neill’s run together, Oxford Treehouse Gallery.
On the process of building their home, Vivian said, “The construction only took about one and half years, but the house site and design decisions took much longer. In the meantime, we sold our [previous] home in Oxford, MS and renovated the basement of the home already on the property, into an apartment and lived onsite while we developed our ideas for our home. The gallery apartment now serves as guest quarters and an Airbnb location. We finally settled on the old homestead site, but first had to remove dilapidated tenant shacks… Near the house is an old well that was hand dug by the first family on this property. One of the previous homeowners visits on occasion, and recently we learned he was a 12-year-old boy when he helped his grandfather hand dig the 30-foot well.”
When they got the keys to their office in February, Liz and Kate immediately started refinishing the space to inspire their work. The charm of the architectural elements like coffered ceilings, terrazzo floors and large windows add to the beauty of the studio. Budget-friendly furniture, DIY projects and vibrant art — of course! — have made this space uniquely theirs
This steamer trunk, belonging to Anne Sheldon-Duplaix, traveled back and forth with her grandparents between New York and Europe, holding all their possessions until it was passed to her parents’ home in Northern France, and then on to her. She used it to store a carefully curated fabric collection and her dreams of becoming a clothing seamstress. One day, Anne opened the trunk and began sewing clothes for her daughter, which led her to open a children’s clothing shop by constructing clothes from the fabric stored in the steamer trunk at her East Village, NYC home.
“We’d been searching for a home in Park Slope for what seemed like forever,” she says. “At one point we tried to buy a big house with friends and split it in half, but it got very complicated very quickly. About that time I said to Jonah, ‘we just need a little house, where are the little houses?’ When we saw our house we both said: ‘it is definitely little!’ But compared to what we were used to, even though it’s only 12 feet wide it really is a lot of house. On top of that, it has a lot of original detail, gorgeous ceiling moldings, original stained glass. I’m sure I was staring at those pretty windows while ignoring words like ‘complete electrical/plumbing updates,’ [and] ‘mechanical redo’.”
If you could completely reimagine your life, unbeholden to your past, what would it look like? When Sarah Reid’s son Zane turned 18, she experienced a “what am I doing with my life?” moment. She’d been working in non-profit administration but had always wanted to do interior design for spaces that served low-income communities. Thus was born her business, Small Victories Design. A move from Massachussetts to California facilitated this transformation. In the move, Sarah left behind thrifted finds that filled her attic, basement, and garage. As a “borderline hoarder,” leaving them behind proved difficult. But in having the courage to let go of one incarnation of herself (and most of the objects that made up that life) she embraced another.
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