Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Dame gang lives in the very opposite of the McMansion trend sweeping our city. We're in a modest little cottage that redefines small space living. But small is the new big, right?

We're tucked away off the beaten path - of pretty much anything - in a little neighborhood that was originally created to be workers' housing for the local cotton mill. The mill was built in 1896, and the village was built around it. My house dates from around 1917. Hard to believe, but our 1,100 sf cottage was once a duplex, probably occupied by two families. Each half of the house would have had one living/sleeping room, and one room for a small kitchen, and each half had its own small porch.

Fast forward to the present day, and we've got a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and study. The porches have been converted to bathrooms. Yep, the house was built at a time when modern amentities like toilets weren't common, at least not common in millworker housing, and there's remnants of the old privy in the basement. There's pine flooring in most of the rooms, real plaster walls, and shallow fireplaces that must have once burned coal in each of the main rooms.

The house was mostly renovated when I bought. The only problem is, the guy who renovated it had no idea what he was doing, and he wasn't exactly a perfectionist. We've been here long enough now that some things like flooring have to be redone, and poorly done rooms like the master bath and kitchen need to be upgraded - over time, and when the budget allows. Over the last few months I've been re-painting rooms, redecorating, and generally freshening up the place.

So, the goal amidst all this quaintness with plaster walls, pine floors, and beadboard is to create something more chic than shabby. Something a little funky, a little eclectic, and mostly timeless.

The challenge is striking the right balance between retro flair and kitsch, sticking to an appropriate scale for the spaces, and being stylish while still respecting the modesty of the house itself.

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