Our family has a place in West Virginia that my parents purchased the year I was born. It is about 200 miles west of Washington, D.C., where both of my parents grew up and where we were living at the time they bought it. Initially, it was purchased as an investment. There are a little over 200 acres, bordered by a creek on one side. When it was first purchased, there was a small house with no running water, nor heat, and a barn.
My parents planned to hang on to the land for a few years, fix up the fencing for cattle, make minimal repairs to the little house and then sell it for what they hoped would be a modest profit. In the course of going there to work on the property though, bringing friends to help (and revel with), they fell in love with the place. As a family, we spent years making improvements to the land and to the small house. Six years after purchasing it, our family moved to Connecticut and rather than going to The Farm all of the time, we started to go there for every family vacation.
As the years went by and my family moved several more times, my brothers and I grew up knowing The Farm as our constant, an anchor for our family, a place we longed for when we were away from it and a place we loved when we were there.
When my dad was close to retiring, my parents decided they wanted to upgrade The Farm to be a place where they could spend at least half of the year comfortably. Ultimately, they decided to build another house on the property. My mother lobbied hard to live in the "Little House", which she loved so much. Although the house had heat and plumbing by then, it still did not have a washer and dryer, nor a full service kitchen, and it only had one bathroom. It seemed to make more sense to build something new.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because the new house at The Farm is the first house I designed that was actually built! Recently, my husband, children and I were at The Farm for a long weekend and I discovered an old brief case tucked away in a corner with the original idea notes and floor plans for the house.
My dad knew that he wanted the house to have cedar siding, to have stone walls on two of the exterior/interior walls with fireplaces on the inside, a screened in porch; and that he wanted the ceilings to be ten feet high and the windows to be five feet tall. Here are his initial notes (source for magazine page unknown, circa 1994):
We talked about his ideas and here is the plan I came up with (you can see I mailed it from work in early 1995 (sorry work!):
It's not exactly drawn to scale lol, this is the basic floor plan though. There were a few changes with the bedroom closets to accommodate mechanicals and the kitchen turned out to be a galley kitchen, not wide enough for an island.
Here are some pictures of it while it was being built:
And here are some pictures of the inside. My parents lived in this house half of the year during retirement for seven years together, my dad for another fourteen years after my mom passed away and now my brothers and I share it with our families. The house is full of family memories and sentimental items. It lives on as a testament to our parents and (selfishly to me) my love of design.
And here is a picture of the Little House from just a few weeks ago:
Thank you for visiting with me, Kerry