Reinventing home décor with Anna from In-Home 1
An Exeter woman transforms found items into furnishings and other accessories for the home.
At In-Home 1 in Exeter, a leather chair is paired with a 1940s-era drum table, whose leather top is stained with a custom-mixed finish of aubergine pigment on a gray background. Part of what store owner Anna Hardy Evans calls her “geode series,” the effect was achieved with fourteen layers of washes, a technique she discovered in an eighteenth-century book of paint recipes.
Anna Hardy Evans elevates do-it-yourself to an art. How else to describe an artist, designer, welder and woodworker who, together with her husband Pete, designed and renovated her own home, transforming a dilapidated 1950s Cape Cod-style home into a Colonial?
Evidence of Evans’s “can-do” attitude is captured in her home furnishing and accessories stores, In-Home 1 and 2, as well as her interior design and furniture restoration business.
In-Home 1, located in downtown Exeter, reflects a commitment to what Evans calls her three Rs: recycled, repur-posed or restored items. In addition to showcasing new, locally sourced and Fair Trade gift items, works by area artists as well as accessories of all kinds, In-Home 1 and 2 feature unusual, one-of-a-kind pieces that Evans discovers while combing through flea markets, barn and estate sales, and salvage yards (she’s also found treasures along the side of the road). Depending on the object’s condition, Evans will repair it, clean it or freshen it with a new coat of paint.
The In-Home stores are the repositories of Evans’s design and artistic talents. Her shops’ interiors and window displays change weekly depending on what’s she found, created or sold. Evans “repurposes” her finds—creating a mirror out of bicycle parts, say, or welding twig-shaped legs together and topping them with a round pane of glass to create a table—and then puts them in her stores, where they’re often snapped up by eager buyers.
Filled with vintage and recycled glassware, this sideboard is finished with nine coats of an ocean-gray-colored pigment. The olive green glasses are wine bottles that have been melted, baked and twisted into different shapes.
“I’ve purchased several pieces from Anna,” says Exeter resident Tracy Coviello. “She made a coffee table specifically for me that had to be a certain size, and she did a beautiful job. I’m in her store more than I should be.”
Inspiration for repurposing
Born in England, Evans grew up in the antiques trade. “Our home in Suffolk was five hundred years old, and part of it was my parents’ antiques store,” she says. She first learned about fixing and restoring furniture from her father, who was a woodworker (her twin brother, a cabinetmaker and furniture maker, also restores homes; her sister is a sculptor). Interested in painting and design, she studied textile design in college and painted furniture to sell in her parents’ shop. Her marriage to Pete, a pilot, took her around the world to Germany, France, the Bahamas, New Mexico, Florida and eventually New Hampshire. Along the way, she learned to weld, while creating and painting furniture (as well as murals).
Evans’s inspiration for her work comes from an appreciation of nature, as well as an ability to find beauty in man-made forms (one example is a line of furnishings inspired by the shapes and textures of geodes).
She’s also intrigued by paint and historic painting processes. “The paint I use is based on eighteenth-century European recipes,” Evans says. “They’re more like glazes.” She makes her own paints, mixing many natural mediums to create smooth, even colors (“I like making my own because newer paints are so elastic,” she says). For her geode-themed furniture, she experimented with layering paint. On one piece, a spectacular 1940s-era drum table with a stained leather top, she used fourteen layers of washes to give the table its unique look.
Evans and her staff build and refinish pieces at In-Home 2, a four- thousand-square-foot retail space also in Exeter that serves as her workshop and interior design studio.
British-born Anna Hardy Evans is an artist, designer, welder and woodworker as well as owner of In-Home 1 and 2 in Exeter.
A collector of many objects—including old bottles, boxes, pieces of wood and metal implements—Evans photographs pieces she finds with potential. She then sketches out ideas on how to transform the items. Many times she’ll “sit” with a piece just to see what transpires. Once a non-commissioned piece is finished, it might not be on the sales floor immediately. “Sometimes I’ll move a piece between my home and the shop,” Evans says, “just so I can enjoy it before I sell it.”
Evans’s transition to interior designer happened after a customer requested design help. Local designers often shop at the In-Home stores or contact Evans to create custom-built pieces for projects. She works with residential clients from Maine to Massachusetts, and has also branched into corporate work. True to her love of reinvention, she works with what clients already own, careful to not impose her personal style, and tries to create an environment that’s true to the homeowner.
“Home accessories shouldn’t be all new anyway,” Evans says. “They’re collected. Every piece has a story.” That’s a statement that fits Evans’s style perfectly.