Thursday, May 5, 2005
Judy's House (and Pantry)
My friend Judy's house is a small unassuming Cape, built by her husband within the last thirty years and no more than 25 x 18 feet, with two small additions: a glassed in four-season porch, salt-box style, along the south side of the house and a little room for an office addition off the living area. The house is stained a dark woodsy green. If it weren't for the lovely gardens surrounding it or the separate adorable garden shed she built last year, complete with an old farmhouse sink, you would think it just any other ordinary modern Cape. However, if the three bears were to build in the 21st century New Hampshire woods, this would be their cottage.
Inside Judy has managed to organize her space so efficiently that she is able to display her collections, including many books and dishes, without impacting the living space. She has to be orderly--not only does she have a small preschool several days a week for four active five year olds, including our youngest, but she shares her home with her husband, a daughter who runs a landscaping business, and her eldest daughter who, with her husband and five year old son, are back and forth from Africa several times each year where they work at a trekking camp. [A large wardrobe, surprisingly unobtrusive, stores a vast amount of children's toys, building things, board games, and art supplies--an entire playroom in a cupboard.]
The open L-shaped living space is painted a warm shade of purple which works with the simple, earthy furnishings and yard sale finds. Books line one wall space from floor to ceiling and her pastel LuRay collection frames the other wall in a white Hoosier-style cabinet next to an antique white cast iron patio set, used for their dining room. These features help brighten an otherwise dark corner. In the porch area, Judy has her collection of bones and dried animal remnants: puffed blow fish and snake skins, and bleached bone fragments. She has brought the outdoors inside, in a most appealing way. In the small room off the porch where most would make into a mud or laundry room, Judy has made into a reading nook with a comfy bed, a picture window facing south over her raised garden beds, and a relaxing aesthetic.
Judy's kitchen is a tiny U-shaped galley with a small window. Yet the counter space and cupboard storage are sufficient enough and so orderly that anyone could function well in this kitchen. A small master bedroom and full bath complete the downstairs and two small bedrooms are upstairs for her daughters. A large, open staircase descends beneath an airy branch of birch tree. Their cozy hearth, with its house-heating woodstove, bears an old sign that belonged to her husband's family.
When Judy heard about my pantry book she said, "Oh you have to see mine!" I asked where it was, knowing the layout of her downstairs. One day, her husband at work, Judy took a crow bar and started to hack into the white space of wall just around the corner from her kitchen and between her bathroom. Working around a vertical support beam, Judy crafted two open spaces, each about 4 feet high, a foot wide and no more than six inches deep. Her husband added shelves and Judy salvaged--as she is inclined to do--two green weathered wooden house shutters for doors. The effect is magical: part wall ornament, part ingenious storage. Inside her shelves are lined with neatly filled glass jars and assorted tea boxes. A stylist couldn't have done a better job.
Judy's tiny pantry with its found space and cottage-cupboard-cuteness and her LuRay display will find their way into my pantry book. And someday, when my husband and I are ready to downsize a bit, we will likely build a house very much like Judy's: cute and small, where there is a place for everything and everything in its place. I will hope to be able to infuse it with the kind of love and reverence as Judy has--her house is as much about keeping her family close as it is about her own unique style. Our children, and their children, and even Goldilocks if she's lost in our woods, will be more than welcome.