There are only a handful of blogs and bloggers that I have been following, or who have followed me, since almost the outset of HSB. One such person who has been a constant is Chris from the blog Nine Apple Trees. His Ohio home, in which he shares with his beautiful family, is one that I admire greatly. He is not shy in posting about the hardships in regards to acreage life, while also celebrating his achievements with the same candour. His blog is a realistic look on rural life, and not an edited or glorified one that most bloggers become a casualty of (myself included). From his beekeeping adventures, to renovating their sustainable home, and more, Chris is a great storyteller and photographer. I couldn’t imagine doing this series without him.
Our home is located between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. While we’ve only been in our home for three years, my wife and I have lived within a few miles of the area basically our whole lives. The village has a rural feel but we are within twenty minutes of two major city centers. Living in a national park is a dream come true for us.
This is our third house we’ve had together, all of which we built new. I think the idea of turning a house into a “home” takes time. Home is really about the experiences and memories that become tied to a place. It was difficult leaving our last home because that’s where the boys were born, and we lived there for over seven years. It felt comfortable. Of all the things to worry about, or be challenged by in life, home has been a constant. I think people find comfort in the constants in their lives. For us, comfort is found in the place we live.
We have been fortunate that our design tastes are totally in sync. We like a laid back, eclectic, contemporary feel. We hired an architect to design our house. The modern cape cod style home he created is uniquely ours, and fits into the rural landscape. I like to think it evokes the industrial architecture of the area’s historic paper mills and train stations in the proportions of the building – the house is very long and tall.
We tried to infuse a little of that industrial vibe with faux steel beams in the kitchen and repurposed welding-tank light fixtures in the dining room. My favorite trick is we used a cohesive paint palette with rich, yet subtle, earthy colors. We weren’t afraid to paint different colors on different walls. We even painted the kitchen ceiling. There’s no reason all four walls need to be the same color.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that nature inspires our design decisions as well. We try to balance the man made with natural: framed dried leaves the boys collected for example. The only wallpaper in the house, in the half bath, has a floral pattern. And the fireplace mantel is made from a cherry tree we had to cut down during construction.
Honestly, for me it’d actually have to be the yard outside. We have six acres and we’ve left most of it natural. I know that’s not an item, but I’ve come to know all the plants and trees, as strange as that sounds. We get attached to the living things on our land; we’ve been known to move shrubs from one residence to the next with mixed results.
I will say though when we designed the house we purposefully did not make a formal dining room. Our “fancy” dining room table gets used every day for every meal, and that’s by design. It will wear over the years and gain a character all its own. We bought it new, years ago, and I’d say that it has been a good constant to have. Whether it’s just a family dinner, business meeting or catching up with old friends, you can usually find it happening around the dining table.
A major influence on our house and home life is environmental sustainability. The house is Energy Star certified, and we factor in the environment in every house related decision. My favorite example is our water supply is one hundred percent rainwater. It was amazing to take that first shower knowing that the water had fallen from the sky just a few hours ago. The house has been designed and built in a way that eventually we could live completely off the grid if we wanted to.
We actually both work from home, and we built the house with an art studio for each of us. Beyond that we just wanted a place where our children could grow up around nature. We were worried about leaving suburbia with its sidewalks and kids everywhere, but we think it’s one of the best decisions we ever made.
Our home is the place where we live, work and play.
If you would like to take part in this series, entitled Home, please email me at email@example.com.