Lesson 4. There's a place for art in the everyday

In a simple farmhouse, stairs often aren't much more than a way to get from one level to another. But that didn't stop Tom and his crew from building a floating, full-height staircase that has an inherent beauty. It's supported by plywood sides that were cut from one sheet for both the steps and landing, then doubled up and sandwiched between two pieces of 5/4 poplar. The treads and risers were then slotted into grooves so the staircase could stand free of posts or stringers for four stories. A final eye-catching touch: They turned the balusters 45 degrees for a twist on tradition.

Lesson 5. Sometimes starting over is the smartest way to go

In the original house, the kitchen was a hemmed-in, poorly laid-out, knotty-pine-paneled room in the middle of the ell connector. Above it were some pretty crazy bedrooms — one with a 4-foot-high door. Structurally, aesthetically, and historically, there was nothing of merit to save.

The best way to create a real entry, kitchen, and dining room in this odd space was to bring out the backhoe and reduce the structure to matchsticks.

Then build something altogether better.

Lesson 6. Smart window design can provide both light and privacy

The front of the Carlisle house faces a main road, which means it isn't the right place for big picture windows (good for curious passers-by, bad for nonexhibitionist homeowners). But that south-facing side of the house also gets the morning light. So architect Jeremiah Eck placed a bank of windows high on the home-office wall to usher in sunshine without giving away the family secrets. Outside, simple green-gray siding sets off the row of dark-green windows, the middle one elongated just slightly to add visual interest.


Light fixture: Visual Comforts
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Wood Railing Stain: Varathane
Windows: Andersen Windows
Siding: James Hardie
Cabinets: Plain & Fancy
Appliances: Bosch Thermador
Granite Counters: Gerrity Stone
Wood Counters: Walker Creek Furniture
Range Hood: Broan-NuTone

Ask TOH users about Befores and Afters

Contribute to This Story Below