There to Here

“Kimberly, Kerianne, Heather and Miranda together form my launch and my landing. And of course Andy – who lets me read out-loud to him as we drive far far away and always return to the same place.  Here.”Maida

Whether we are transient in our natural habitat of hearth and home, or have deep roots anchoring generations of family in one geographical location, we all claim some “place” to be ours alone.  Although my own personal experiences of dwelling places have never taken me very far away from where I started, the often subtle and sometimes dramatic changes from one place to the next have all loomed large to me.

Perhaps that’s why I chose design as my professional calling.  Discovering how someone wants to live and work, is to me, an archeological dig into the inner workings of a person, a family, a home, a heritage.  I help people see space in a new way with the hope that this will enhance their lives.  The odyssey to me is sometimes obvious and deliberate, and other times nuanced and subtle, mixing craft measured with illumination, not forgetting the important tidbit of surprise.  Though mastering this art for others, and purporting to help countless people change their lives by moving from one space to another, doing it for myself and my family has been another experience entirely. 

I had lived in the city of Chicago nearly all of my adult life, when Andy, my husband, carried me off to the country to live right on the edge of where rural meets drop-off.  With four daughters in tow, and a life filled with drama and hair supplies, we set forth with our proverbial covered wagon and discovered along the way that a new life in an old house has challenges we could not have imagined. 

While the spark of inspiration in design may come from the smallest of things, such as a lamp picked up at a garage sale, or the desire to create a little niche off of the kitchen in order to dine together as a family, our inspiration for moving to the country was a foggy notion that a big old house would be fun. I know I know I know.  I would have made lists in chart form for any client’s request. A design project would have been tackled by first making rational decisions with carefully laid out renovation plans and budget numbers attached to each item.  I would have explored with teams of experts the fundamental and mechanical elements of the home, and I would have measured all the dreams next to the practical realities.  We did none of this and just jumped.  Right in.

The complications of making an old house behave and take responsibility for itself is like training a large but kindly beast to lean forward, ever so nicely please, and touch its toes.  It can’t and it won’t.  What was equally surprising was what we saw in ourselves throughout the journey. All of the trials of quick drying cement drying too quickly, windows that wouldn’t open, sink-holes to China, and bats circling our heads in the attic, have led us to see that our child-like notions of wonder could expand and we brought shenanigans into our lives just when we thought they might be lost forever.

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