A CARRIAGE HOUSE REBORN


When the renovation of this beloved carriage house was still in progress, I asked the homeowner, Sally Sanford if she would meet with me and tell me the story surrounding her project. I was delighted when she enthusiastically agreed to meet, and even more delighted as she shared her story. 

THE PROJECT

The carriage house was built around the 1860's and owned by Henry Francis Smith, a prominent citizen in Concord at the time. He was the great grandfather of Sally's husband, Sandy. He built the carriage house to shelter his well-loved horses whose names were Fanny and Gypsy (affectionately called Gyp).

Photo of carriage house before renovation.

The carriage house remained in the family over four generations; and in very recent times, became Sally and Sandy's. They decided to make it their home.

Sally realized she and Sandy were doing more than creating a home. They were stewards, preserving a real jewel, a hidden jewel, in Concord's history.

The renovated 19th century carriage house is a rare example of Carpenter Gothic. It's located just outside of Concord's town center.  (image from DSK's website)

THE COLLABORATORS

As it turned out, there was a barn tour in Concord around the time Sally and Sandy had acquired the carriage house. On the tour, Sally visited a "gorgeous barn" that had been renovated by architect Chip Dewing of  DSK | Dewing Schmid Kearns with builder Jeff Adams, J. W. Adams Construction. KR+H had participated in the design and making of the cabinetry for the barn.

It soon became apparent to Sally and Sandy that Chip Dewing was the perfect architect for their project. Builder Jeff Adams and KR+H's Paul Reidt and Karla Monkevich also joined the team. Sally valued that they had experience working together on many projects.

I don’t think I’ve encountered a team that has worked quite as collaboratively and as egolessly as the team we have.

THE KITCHEN: BEING RESPECTFUL OF THE BONES

When Sally first met Paul at her carriage house she could see, "He immediately got a sense of how cool this space was and how really elegantly these horses were accommodated."

Here's a snap (left) taken before renovation began. The horse stalls are in the background. You can get a sense of the wonderful details in the openings to the stalls. The "flower" (right) was cut out above each stall door.

We started with wonderful details but the craftsmanship [in the renovation] has made some of the details in the original come to light in a much more beautiful way.

KR+H designed and made cabinetry in the kitchen that honored the lovingly made horse stalls (see above photo).

Sally found that Paul helped her and Sandy see a vision, see an aesthetic that, she said, "would harmonize with what we were trying to do, with things we already had that we wanted to keep.

Sally saw that all the people connected with her project had an understanding of "how to be respectful of the bones."

 

DESIGN OBJECTIVES

Sally and Sandy wanted the design of their new home within the carriage house to:

  • harmonize with the spirit of the carriage house
  • honor simplicity (Sally has a lot of Quaker ancestors and loves simplicity.)
  • be ecologically responsible
  • stay within their budget
  • meet an aging-in-place program for the future
  • allow them to incorporate the old things they love
  • function well...Sally loves to cook!
One of the elements that comes through all the things that I’ve seen KR+H do is that sort of zen flow simplicity. Just to find the center of the core of whatever the design and the space and the situation. It was so clear from the get go that Paul wanted to make sure we found it.

DETAILS

As Sally worked closely with KR+H partner Karla Monkevich she found Karla's attention to detail "phenomenal."

In the beginning Sally had little confidence in her own eyes. A beautifully accomplished sopranist, her ears were "trained up the wazoo." As the project continued she found that much like her ears were very practiced at hearing details in her music, her eyes became more practiced; and she became confident in making the many, many choices for design and material details.

CRAFTSMANSHIP

Sally noticed that everyone contributing to her project had a sense of engagement with and respect for the people of the past who originally worked on the carriage house. She saw a lot of TLC being applied to their varied contributions.

KR+H's installers, Andy and Ralph, were both really into their installation work. Ralph showed Sally how at a critical point of convergence in her kitchen, the craftsmanship had to be just right.

...Just opening the drawers, just the turning of the wood at the horse stalls is so beautifully executed.

THE HOMEOWNER'S VOICE

Sally remarked, "We have a very high-powered team, and they're so good at what they do, but where's my voice in that?" In the course of her project, Sally became practiced at what was important for her to stick with and what she could be flexible with.

She also learned how to buy time. There were decisions where she knew she needed time to pause and reflect. Sometimes more investigation was necessary. And in voicing this, something much better emerged.

That’s the dynamic part of our team. Everybody is willing to be flexible. Nobody has ever drawn a line in the sand and said that’s it.

GO SOMEPLACE YOU HAVEN'T GONE BEFORE...TOGETHER

The quote below from Sally is my favorite. She speaks of what happens when she performs on stage, generously comparing it to what she saw in the collaboration applied to this beloved carriage house.

The joy and fun of live performance is to be enough on top of your game plan that you can vary it and that you can do that with your colleagues together. That you can go someplace you haven’t gone before together and that you can be clear enough about what you’re doing in the moment..

SEE THE FULL PROJECT

To see the full project on DSK | Dewing Schmid Kearns' website, click here.

All the project's beautiful photo images were captured by Richard Mandelkorn.

TO SALLY

Just as your exquisite singing voice brings those around you to new heights, so does your generous spirit. Many thanks to you and Sandy.

-from all of us at KR+H.