The Art of Creating a Home

Janice Rohlf

Janice Randall Rohlf

This is the perfect time of year for many things—bluebird ski days, hot soup and putting your nose in a really good book, to name a few. It’s also an optimal moment to look around at the four walls keeping winter’s wrath at bay and start to muse about changes you might want to make within your home. They don’t have to be major transformations; quite the contrary, switching up a small detail can make a big difference. Recently, while digging through boxes of stuff in my attic, I came across a small, framed pen-and-ink drawing of one of my favorite streets in Paris. I’d forgotten about it. Now it hangs above my desk, reminding me of a time in my life when I walked down this particular street every day. It’s simple, pretty and holds meaning for me.

Granted, this is a modest design tip from a relative hack. But if you expand the spirit behind the idea to professional levels of interior design and architecture, you’ll understand how many practitioners in those fields artfully work with their clients. In order to provide the type of house with which their clients will feel a kinship, these aesthetically inclined men and women ask simple but important questions: How do you live day to day? What items do you want to keep for their sentimental value? Do you have expectations for your life 10 years or more down the road? What are your favorite colors? Without the answers to these queries, it’s impossible for a respectable architect or interior designer to be successful, no matter how well versed they are in the more technical aspects and complex details of their job.

This issue celebrates architecture and interior design and the New Hampshire-based professionals who demonstrate every day what it takes to stand out in their fields. Not every project is as drastic as building a home—not just a house—for a family who has lost theirs in a fire. Thanks to Jason Aselin, Emily Shakra and a supporting cast of many, the Sandhus of Bedford are comfortably ensconced in a new home that doesn’t feel sterile despite the absence of mementos lost in the fire. See how this was accomplished, on page 72.

In contrast, we feature two lakeside cottages (pages 38 and 52) that have stood the test of time but needed to be updated aesthetically, functionally or both to be relevant to today’s way of living. The challenge was to update the properties without losing their special sense of nostalgia, which in some instances meant maintaining the lower ceilings, exposed framing and original wood floors.

And sometimes a home’s historical significance surpasses one’s parents’ era, reaching as far back as two centuries, as in the case of a downtown Portsmouth home we feature starting on page 62. Refurbishing the Federal style home with Georgian flourishes inside was like peeling an onion, each layer uncovering a new challenge for the TMS architecture and design team. The two-and-a-half-year project—completed during the pandemic and within a strict historic district—was a true labor of love.

Speaking of love, should you need some inspiration for a Valentine’s Day celebration, our regular contributor Mary Ann Esposito, the author of 14 cookbooks, offers her version of a romantic dinner for two featuring three of her favorite recipes. Rest assured, there is a decadent chocolate confection for dessert!


Categories: From the Editor