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An Excruciatingly Opinionated Guide to the Connecticut Shoreline
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Twelve years ago we “downsized” from a large antique home. I was MADLY in love with that house: all soaring ceilings, elaborate moldings, real plaster walls, wide plank floors and plenty of secret nooks and crannies. But it wasn’t well suited to our little family of three. It broke my heart to sell it (I couldn’t drive past the house for years), but my husband was right. The house, to an extent, owned us. We both worked, and our precious weekends were a blur of housework and upkeep. My husband won this argument and we moved to a cozy cape on plenty of land. Slowly it dawned on me that’s life’s greatest luxury is privacy and that a smaller home gives you more of the only truly finite resource. Time. There’s not much to do in our new house (12 years later and in MY mind it’s still “the new house”). Still, when stringing two words together for the-e-list eludes me, I’ll clear my mind by organizing a drawer or closet. I’m not a big collector of stuff (books, clothing and magazines excepted), but I still marvel at the amount of time spent sorting through, clearing out and folding. I dream of having even less; pairing down my wardrobe to the 20% I actually wear, keeping a few shelves of favorite books, ditching the dusty, out-of-print copies of Gourmet and House and Garden, altogether. After watching Treehugger founder, Graham Hill’s video ( click here to watch) of his ridiculously efficient (and equally expensive) 428 foot apartment, I was taken with the Tiny House movement. Or maybe it started with the mini Modgun house that my dad envisioned as a housing solution after Katrina ( see it here). With an empty nest looming, it’s an interesting idea. When I heard friends had built their very own Wee House, I rushed right over.  p.s. for more on tiny house living:
The Wee House, by Herrle Custom Carpentry and Harvest Building Company
Dave Herrle of Herrle Custom Carpentry  and Adam Pipkin, owner of Harvest Building Company, worked on the crew that built my barn (if you missed the barn list, click here). Dave enlisted Adam’s help in building this little house for his fiancee, artist Kim Petersen. On a footprint of 11 x 14 square feet, the snug cottage has every necessity. A straightforward albeit, tiny kitchen, a cozy curl-up couch, plenty of bookshelves tucked into every corner and a sturdy ladder leading up to the sleeping loft. The composting toilet keeps things green and a deck overlooking a pond keeps it airy. The few furnishings were hand made by Dave, whose passion is crafting furniture, and the landscapes that dot the walls are his fiance, Kim Petersen’s work. There’s even room for her easel and paints, allowing her to set to it when the landscape beckons and the mood strikes. The house was built modestly, using mainly salvaged materials, and the guys are itching to build more Wee Houses. In the meantime, they’re happy to take on any project, no matter the size, and I can vouch for their work, ingenuity and craftsmanship. See more of the Wee House, here (Herrie Custom Carpentry) and find Adam at Harvest Building Company. 
Kim Petersen’s local landscapes are encased in rustic, salvaged frames hewn by Dave. The charming work’s scale suit the Wee House (or any house for that matter) and are so reasonably priced. They range from $150 to $400, handmade frame included! Kim has just hung a show at Ashlawn Farm Coffee in Old Saybrook. Stop by to see the work and meet Kim at the opening reception on March 9th from 2 - 3:30.
KimberlyPetersenArt on facebook
Dirt Floor Recording Studio
A renowned recording studio in the woods in Chester? Really? Yup. Dirt Floor is the brainchild of uber-talented, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter Eric Michael Lichter. Since 2006 he’s been doggedly recording the sort of old school music that appeals to him, with an organic sound that conjures up the likes of Crosby Stills and Nash, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. He calls it the kind of music that makes you think of “a flannel shirt and old, comfortable jeans”. The resurgence of singer/songwriter, Americana, folk and roots music has helped put Dirt Floor Studios on the map. Artists like Susan Cowsill, James Maple and Poor Old Shine flock here for Eric’s unique sound that harks back to analog days and vinyl. I spent an afternoon touring the studio and reveling in Eric's enthusiasm and passion for music, his artists and his work. From the vintage instruments laying about (many guitars, drum sets and a 1930’s baby Grand, all of which Eric plays), to the vinyl decorated walls, Dirt Floor is an inspirational place. A recent move from smaller digs, and an inspired renovation by Adam and Dave (see above) have provided an intimate performance space, too. Live From Dirt Floor presents a concert series of local and national acts. Save the date and hope to see you at the next one (I’m not missing it!) on March 30 at 6pm, featuring New Orleans artist, Elli Perry and Eric himself. “Like” Dirt Floor on facebook to hear about future events.
Seana Bill, Cabinetmaker
I had never heard of Seana Bill before she placed an ad on the-e-list about her services. A female wood-worker, practically in my own back yard? So intriguing and unusual! I made an appointment and wound my way up to the tip of Sterling Hill Road. There I found Seana, hard at work on a custom painted bookcase in the basement of her family’s antique homestead. It’s fair to say that Seana grew up around wood. Her father meticulously reconstructed their 18th century saltbox by hand, hand-planing the interior paneling and rebuilding the fireplaces, stone by stone. After college and a move to Baltimore, Seana was disappointed with the sort of furniture she could afford for her new apartment. As a hobby, she started making her own, learning the techniques along the way. She loved it, in fact, more than she loved teaching high school physics. In a somewhat drastic move, she relocated back to Lyme and began piecing together furniture from wood salvaged from the family property. While she can build anything, she has her own style and her works have been snapped up by local retailers: Fairhaven Furniture in New Haven and Elle Design Studio in Chester. She employs mortise and tenon construction and builds her furniture to last hundreds of years. The work ranges from custom solid wood kitchen cabinetry, (no plywood boxes for her!), to refacing old cabinets, to custom furniture to suit the period of your house or style. The girl can build anything! See some examples of cabinetry and furniture on her website, here: 
This one sounds great!  Try Connecticut's local brews and enjoy a four course dinner at Penny Lane Pub's beer dinner tonight, March 5th. Find this and other upcoming events on our events calendar. Click here. 
Did you miss last week's list about Decorating Secrets? (It's a good one!). Find it here.
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