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Treasures explored

May 13, 2013 12:53 PM  

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Susan Teare

Autumn leaves tumble across the lawn of this “Farmhouse Revival” home designed by Vermont’s Cushman Design Group. The gabled dormers and sturdy columns along the porch elevate the house to gentleman farmer status without taking away from the basic simplicity of the farmhouse inspiration.

The region’s rich inventory of architecture and craftsmanship was front and center at our recent Spring Design Salon, “New England Treasures: Innovating with regional materials, heritage, and home design” at Pompanoosuc Mills in downtown Boston. Designer Milford Cushman of Cushman Design Group in Stowe, Vermont, hit on three of the most romantic and quintessential New England building forms: The farmhouse, the barn, and the summer camp.

The farmhouse he showed was both elegant and simple, a sturdy looking place that stood up to its impressive location on clearing with views to the Green Mountains. Inside, the house was warm, inviting, and family friendly with traditional touchstones such as stone fireplaces, reassuring beams, and lots of natural wood.

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Cushman Design Group designed a working barn that looks as if it has been on the site for decades and engaged old-time craftsmanship (below) and modern techniques to give it details that will stand the test of time and the challenges of the Vermont climate.


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Cushman’s renovation of a lakeside summer camp added space and modern amenities without distracting from the romance of the house or the site.


David Dankens of M.F. Reynolds Inc., a building company in Medford, Massachusetts, also paid homage to the New England barn. Not only was the new building (below), fashioned after a classic New England barn, it incorporates recycled barn board in the beams.
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What could be more of a treasure that a skilled craftsman reinterpreting architectural details such as the arched windows (right) for M.F. Reynolds houses.

Dwight Sargent is himself a New England treasure. The founder and head of Pompanoosuc Mills didn’t go to college with a goal of becoming a furniture maker. But one day in the early 1970s, he set up a little shop in his backyard in East Thetford, Vermont, and before you could say "North American hardwood" (which is all Pompanoosuc uses), he had to double, then triple the size of his workspace. The rest is a great American success story.

The company grew into the present day Pompanoosuc Mills, which has 13 showrooms up and down the Eastern seaboard, including the spacious and beautiful retail store where Sargent was our gracious host. The company still delivers “real American furniture, handcrafted in Vermont” and holds true to its original values crafting well-designed and sustainably built products that will become the heirlooms of tomorrow.

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This solid maple Chester Dining Table with Mason Chairs is just one of the many furniture designs by Pompanoosuc Mills. Its two-level showroom at 419 Boylston Street, Boston, has an impressive array of many more.

All these treasures look better when the lighting is thoughtfully designed to enhance their beauty, create a variety of moods, and help us safely navigate the night. Lighting designer Nancy Goldstein of Light Positive in Marblehead, Massachusetts, brings her background and skills in theater lighting to the home, where she makes magic indoors and out. Take the porte cochere entry (below). Not only does the accent lighting turn the architecturally intricate ceiling into a work of art to be pondered and admired, lighting in the pavers makes for safe pedestrian passage, and the stone steps are bathed in a welcoming wash of light.
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In this music room, lighting designer Nancy Goldstein installed Bell Vetro Glass Globes, a light fixture that is as much a piece of art as the sculptural artwork on the wall, which is washed in colored light from above.

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The beautiful leaded glass cabinet panels in this Arts and Crafts-style house were just background music until Goldstein lit them from within. Now the doors and the crystal pieces they protect are the focal points.

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About this blog

An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.

Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.

Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.

Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.

Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.

Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.

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