Creativity Through Constraint In An Historic Cottage

"Boosting Creativity Through Constraints and Creative Constraint: Why Tighter Boundaries Propel Greater Results are the names of two articles in a sea of many that are popping up in media outlets ranging from business to fashion. It seems there is a creativity boost when the "sky ISN'T the limit".  Environments with restraints, restrictions, rules, and boundaries (what ever names they happen to go by) are catalysts for creativity. In other words, thinking "within a box", spurs "out of the box" thinking. When boundaries are movable, there's simply no reason to crush through them. 

Potential clients walk into our office and say "We've talked to a few people, heard it's not possible, but they've said to reach out to you anyway." Or we walk a delapidated property with a potential buyers for the first time and after sharing their vision, look at us sheepily and say "Are we crazy....can this even be done?" Those conversations end up being the first steps in our most satisfying projects. 

Historic properties, and really all renovations or restorations for that matter, have their own playbook, a set of rules pre-determined by the hands that built them or the bank account that's funding them.  Granted, items like plumbing and electrical can be moved, but isn't your focus more intense when your chess opponent has your king in check? "GAME ON", right? 

We have a special place in our heart for the dreamers that take on that playbook, crumple it up, and free throw it right in the garbage pail. This historic McKinney cottage, built in 1935, has been featured in Country Living Magazine and more recently on Oprah.com. It's inspiration is far more reaching than the walls of our office or our town. 

The replacement of a burnt out furnace sparked the remodel. Then, can we add another bathroom? Why not a fireplace, too, and a master bedroom upstairs?  Before any of us knew it, we were in a full blown remodel, and simply amazed at what could be achieved within the confines of this beautiful, 1538 square foot cottage. 

Enjoy the home tour below. The homeowner, Cynthia, has a love for all things vintage and antique and an absolute gift for putting it all together! We've also added links for more articles discussing creativity through constraints at the bottom of this page if you'd like to learn more.  

If you've been told that it can't be done, or if you're guilty of  telling YOURSELF that you'll never have your dream home, give us a call. We welcome the opportunity to work within your constraints, whatever they may be, to give you the home of your design and dreams.

 

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The trim pieces covering the gaps in the original shiplap were added for practical purposes. The texture and finished look was an added surprise. 

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After exposing the brick, we fashioned a spice rack, using salvage wood. 

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My favorite part is the kitchen. It’s a great place to cook, bake and gather.
— Cynthia W. (homeowner & out of the box thinker)

Saving vs. Restoration

My daughter and I entered in a discussion recently regarding the difference between the words "save" and "restore". We agreed that those words yielded two very different definitions. Without even opening up a dictionary, we inherently feel that to SAVE means to stop something from further degradation. To RESTORE means to bring it back to life. It's an active word, and much more laborious of a verb than just "to save".  Restoration happens after the "saving" has been done and we start moving (carefully and slowly) back up the ladder so to speak, and into what that thing was before it started to become, well, less. 

The restoration of the Gough-Hughston (the name formally used on the National Registry) home on Louisiana Street is a "restoration" in the true sense of the word. The owners fell in love with the home many years ago, and it's taken trial and error for them to find a contractor that shared that same infatuation. And if you follow us even just a smidge, you know that it was a match made in heaven.

When you look at the project from the outside looking in, you might begin to question the time line. But looking at it from the inside out yields an entirely different perspective. 

Let's take the story of JUST the windows for example. Every window was taken out, glass removed, frames and jams rebuilt, hardware re-worked, new rope and then original glass re-installed. All of the wood and glass we needed were sourced with the same era and type, which meant that we first needed to locate the exact species of wood and then have it shipped for milling. Once we receive the wood, to continue working on that particular window and to make cuts that match,  blades and knives must be custom made.  And this is just for the windows! 

But....ALL OF THE WINDOWS WORK! How many of us who have ever lived in an older home can say that about historical windows! We are proud of what our skilled craftsman accomplished here in just that one area.

Other than feeling like we won the lottery that our company gets to take part in and revel in the beauty of this living and breathing space, I'm thankful for the individuals (owners and fellow old house lovers) that are putting their resources and energy into, not just saving, but RESTORING, pieces of our past. Our history is worth it! 

 

 

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Master woodworker, Dru, holds a window header after repair and multiple landings. Every header of EVERY window is having this same treatment. 

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The day that this particular window was re-installed, the crew said they couldn't sleep the night before, knowing that it is irreplaceable.

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Make sure to read up above to learn the vast number of steps and stages that a single window must transition between in order for it be repaired!

A special frame with very specific dimensions and angles was built in order to repair and rebuild this curved window header. 

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