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Photo: Eric Roth
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Design Book Hoarding Paid Off

Today, Jane is surrounded by so much order and beauty that people lined up here for the town's house and garden tour. And she can now afford to reflect about those endless microwaved meals, the troubling leak in the living room ceiling, or the times she would open her cellar door "and listen to water, like a waterfall."

"A house can be such a metaphor for a life," she notes. "It's interesting how the health of a house can telegraph your own health, physically and psychologically."

For Jane, who volunteers that a bad relationship had left her emotionally bogged down during those dark years, the kernel of renewal lay buried in a cache of design books, which she had gathered the way a juice-faster might collect cookbooks. One featured the home of architect Pi Smith. "I so loved the images of that house," Jane says. "Then I discovered she was right here in this town."

Shown: While honoring the home's historic style, she renovated the front and the back, with new windows and skylights and a porch facing a landscaped yard accented by salvaged stone walls.
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