Ever since my first post-college job at Rhode Island School of Design, where I produced an internal publication, I have been fascinated with design. My dad was a trained as an engineer, but was always drawing up or tweaking floor plans for additions or houses that my parents either built, or thought about building. So I guess I feel I have a bit of him in me.
For eight years I've been living in and working on a worse-for-wear 1925 stucco Colonial Revival in Westchester, NY, with my husband. So I bring a real-world, Everywoman point of view to our magazine: I have two young sons (3 and 5); I don't have a ton of space or an unlimited budget or lots of free time; my older home needs a lot of updating and repairs. We're building a small raised deck off the kitchen, and we're hoping to finish the basement to create a "green" playroom and a real laundry room soon. So I'm often immersed in floor plans, researching materials, and comparing construction methods off the job, as well as on the job. As By Design
editor, I learn something every day that I can put to work at home.
The other category I handle at the magazine is landscaping and gardening. (See Backyard From Scratch
from the April 2006 issue, and Build a Better Backyard
from the April 2005 issue). Like a lot of people, I find digging in the dirt relaxing. Plus, it's something my kids can tag along on. So I often get them to "help" me—though, naturally, they're always trying to throw over their rakes or shovels for some pruning shears, each hoping to renovate the other's haircut, no doubt.
Laura Goldstein, Executive Editor,
Having grown up in NYC, I didn't think much about houses until I came to TOH
in 1995. Since then, I've become well-versed in all things home-related. Off the job, I've renovated two apartments and am about to start on a real house. On the job, I got an advanced course in construction producing our From the Ground Up series, which covers the essentials, from pouring the foundations
to putting on the last coat of finish
. I'll never be as skilled with a hammer as I am with a pencil, but I've learned that a house isn't something to be intimidated by, that there's a clever fix for most every problem
, and that few things are more satisfying than tackling a home improvement project yourself.
At This Old House
, I also deal in disaster. Kitchen renovation nightmares?"
That's my story. Out-of-control budgets?
Me again. Right now, for our January issue, I'm working on a look back at the most extreme DIY disasters of 2006. I'm starting to think my boss, Scott Omelianuk, is trying to send me a message. But there's an upside to spending my days immersed in all of these worst-case scenarios
. Learning what can go wrong on a remodeling project puts my own house headaches into perspective, and most importantly, helps me inform readers so that they don't end up with any disaster stories of their own to tell.
Carolyn Blackmar, Editorial Operations Director
My neighbors in Connecticut frequently comment that I haven't stopped working on my house, a 1927 Colonial, since I moved there. I tell them it's an occupational hazard of nine years with This Old House
magazine. My job has given me enough knowledge to be costly! One of my larger projects was updating a small addition built by the previous owner because it didn't suit the period of the house. I swapped out a '60s-style bay window for a box bay inspired by This Old House
's Timeless Home
in Atlanta. The box bay is beautifully trimmed with simple, flat-panel wainscoting
and built-in cabinets. Modern fixtures have been replaced with period lighting; a pumpkin-shaped melon jar overhangs the entranceway and web-backed, candle-bulb sconces add an elegance to the room. Gone are the ugly baseboard heaters. An old radiator salvaged from the local, metal scrap yard now heats the space. It all feels—and looks—right.
Colette Scanlon Ortiz, Design Editor
I am originally from Ireland and grew up surrounded by all things old, so I have a passion for old houses. However, after visiting and falling in love with the U.S., I gained an appreciation for the newer designs and styles that this country has to offer. As Design Editor, I get to scour the country for kitchens, baths, and whole-house stories, which encompass renovations, restorations, and new construction. My past and present experience affords me the opportunity to showcase a wide variety of styles and designs and to bring these ideas to our readers. Two stories that I am particularly proud of are:
Originally built in 1878 this Victorian-era townhouse was restored to it former glory with some of the original details intact. The passion that went into restoring this house is amazing and the end result is even more spectacular.
Newly built in 19th-century Shingle style, this house represents everything new, but what I particularly like about the house is the fact that the architect and owners made use of all available space in the house; every nook and cranny has a purpose.
Alexandra Bandon, Senior Editor
I may be an apartment dweller in New York City (in a small rental apartment, even), but I do love to build things. Which, I suppose, is why I produce and edit the Homeowner's Handbook
step-by-step column. And it's not a case of "those who can't do teach"—I built myself the same bookcases we showed in the column. In fact, I talk about all my various "projects" (good and bad) on my TOH blog, The Shelter Life
I'm also a huge fan of the television show, so I get to fulfill my dreams by working with on the magazine's coverage of the TV show project houses
and working as a liason to the show crew. I've covered many projects as a writer (most recently Washington, DC and Bermuda), and I edit the coverage that I don't write. I also have a passion for history, which is how I became the resident expert on house styles
and tracing the history of a house
Amy R. Hughes, Senior Editor
It was the dozen different old homes I grew up in that gave me the interest and skills I draw upon at TOH, where, among other things, I created the Salvage
column. Now, my life and work are so intertwined that I'm often pleading with my husband, Jon, for help bringing junk (as he calls it)
from the street into our tiny apartment. "We already have a sink," Jon will say. "Yes, but someday we'll need another," I will reply. Unable to pick up this particular period pedestal, and Jon refusing to budge, I will leave it behind. That's going to change. We recently moved to a bigger apartment with
a second bath in need of just such an old sink, and I've been lifting weights so the next time I spot one I won't have to ask for help.
Links to more of my writing for This Old House
include Recycling Katrina's Ruins
, TOH Picks the Best Tools for Mom
, Tough...but just a little bit girlie
, and Take It Off, Baby!
Kelly Beamon, Senior Editor
For seven years, I owned and conducted minor restorations on my own 100-year-old-and-then-some house in Trenton, New Jersey. For much longer, I've collected and sold American Arts and Crafts period furniture. So, I was glad that to find that hunting down stories for Secret Sources
on the web and Around the House in the regular magazine would let me revisit a little of these experiences each day. Oh, yeah, and then there were the bed bugs
Leslie Monthan, Copy Chief
Most of what I do is fix grammar, repair mangled syntax, and make sure we don't say "lathe" when we mean "lath," or vice versa. But I've also been a hands-on homeowner ever since the first place I bought, a 1960s condo, 20 years ago. Alas, that was before Homeowner's Handbook existed, or it would have been so much easier to change out those dated toilets
and worn-out faucets
. But I did it, and I was hooked. One 1907 townhouse, a 1790 tenant farmhouse, a 1950s Cape Cod, and an Art Deco apartment later, I'm a remodeling veteran and a confirmed architecture and design junkie. In my seven-plus years at TOH
, I've worked on virtually every article we've published. I feel lucky to have the benefit of learning from the show guys
, my fellow editors, and the many other experts who contribute to each issue. One downside: house envy. I think I left my ex-California-girl heart in that San Francisco rowhouse featured in the November 2006 issue.
Natalie Rodriguez, Editorial Assistant
Being a born-and-bred New York apartment dweller, I was a little worried about how I would fit in when I came here as an intern last year. My DIY expertise consisted of putting together furniture and tracking down my super when a bathroom pipe burst (an incredible feat, actually). Thankfully, my lackluster first-hand experience wasn't held against me and now I get to feed my inner nerd some house- and tool-related morsels on a regular basis. That's right, I'm a Grade-A nerd who loves researching and web-surfing almost any topic, but particularly ones that can affect homeowners' finances, community, or well-being. (See Save-Up by Saving Water
, Big-House Backlash
and How to Spot a Crooked Contractor
). Google is still my tool of choice, but I have been picking up some renovation know-how along the way. I used an electric drill for the first time just a few weeks ago (it's true, by the way, power tools can be addictive) and I'm pretty sure I could now put down a new floor if I really wanted to ? at least a modular one
Kristen Mucci, Associate Online Editor
I'm a newcomer to This Old House
, so I know I have a lot to learn about home improvement. I admit I'm not too handy with a drill, but I do know my way around the kitchen and bathroom. I come from a background in these areas, with six years of industry experience, and lots of that time spent working trade-show floors, learning about every new product, technology, and trend out there. Now, in addition to writing the biweekly kitchen-and-bath newsletter, I mine the pages of This Old House
magazine to produce online galleries like Sensational Space-Saving Kitchens
, or venture to the world beyond, so to speak, for pieces like Homes of the Dead