Turn a little-used room into the best place in the house.
As part of a guild whose quality handmade crafts raise $10,000 each year for the Christmas fair at St. John's Episcopal Church in Northampton, retired florist Susan Roy needed a place where she and her fellow crafters could work.
"I've always had a crafts room - before, during and after my children," Roy said. "In my French-Canadian family, every woman sewed, knitted or hooked rugs. Everybody made things." [Read more]
Eric and Nancy Kaye of Eric Kaye Interiors in the renovated space that was a hardly used den in a Northampton home. The panels behind Eric can be closed to keep the living room separate. (Photo: Gordon Daniels)
Though this Amherst house boasts a fashionably small footprint, at its center lies one grand-scale room.
When the empty lot next to their Amherst home came up for sale a few years back, Frank Hein and Julie Hemment bought it to preserve their open surroundings and dramatic views of the Pelham Hills. Then they had to figure out what to do with the extra property. For the answer, Hemment, who teaches cultural anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, turned to colleague Joseph Krupczynski in the university's department of architecture and design. [Read more]
On the bright side: The great room's tall windows face south, for maximum sunlight and heat.
Households use about a fifth of the total energy consumed in the United States each year and generate 21 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions, according to the US Department of Energy. With growing concerns about climate change, government subsidies for renovating existing homes to a higher standard are rolling out as never before. Whether homeowners are looking at extra insulation, new heating equipment, or even solar panels, it's easier -- and more economical -- than ever to lower monthly utility bills by a third or more. Here's how to get started. [Read more]
Take advantage of rebates and free audits to make your home eco-friendly and cut utility bills. (Illustration by Katy Lemay)
Thirty years ago, book editor Norma Roche and her then-husband decided to look at a house for sale in Northampton's Laurel Park, once a Methodist revival camp during the populist religious movement of the late 19th century. They liked what they found: more than 20 acres of woods and grassy open space surrounding an enclave of about a hundred charming, ramshackle cottages -- none alike -- strung together along winding lanes for a sense of closely shared living. The price was $7,500. "My husband and I thought, wow, we could own a house," she says. "So we bought it." [Read more]
The cottages in Northampton's Laurel Park retain the charm of its roots as a Methodist revival camp. The densely packed homes offer history and character to people looking to avoid cookie-cutter communities. (Photograph by Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
AMHERST - In 1859, businessman Leonard M. Hills and his son, Henry, opened a straw-hat business next to the new railroad depot, a half-mile from town.
A few years later, the pair built twin Italianate mansions overlooking their factory. The architect had recently designed a similar showplace across the street for the brother of Emily Dickinson, the reclusive poet. [Read more]
The 4,200-square-foot Tuttle Farm House was moved from its previous site to the Hills estate in Amherst. (SAMUEL MASINTER/AMHERST COLLEGE)
Isn't it ironic: Natural materials - clay, earth, rock - used for generations before the plastics revolution of the last century are now making a comeback as "green.'' Lucky for us they are, as I found out when I decided to redo my home in an eco-friendly fashion. Improving your living space and going green at the same time can be as easy as painting a room with nontoxic clay paint or upgrading with any number of natural and recycled materials now available. The feel-good factor is unmatched and you won't (necessarily) break the bank. [Read more]