Its been awhile since our last blog….but, it was a very busy year, and some things get delegated to the back burner.
Designing furniture and built ins is the main focus of our business. If the aesthetics aren’t there, no manner of execution of a poor design will ever be successful. We know what we like and there is a feeling we get when a piece is moving in the right direction. Much like working on a painting—sensing when all of the elements are working well together and the final composition feels “right”.
The “right” feeling has to work for our customers and their space. What we attempt to achieve is a level of comfort, familiarity, and artistic design. The design needs to fit the home, not compete with it.
As I think about the “comfort” aspect, my mind drifts back to the days of our family camp nestled in the mountains with a small brook enthusiastically flowing through the property. Built by my French Canadian grandparents, it was meant to be a haven from the oppressive summer heat of the textile mills. Parts of it were cobbled together out of salvaged wood from a catholic rectory (which, I’m sure, pleased my devoutly Catholic memere). Every weekend of my childhood was spent swimming in Big Pond and the cool mountain air was drenched with the scent of balsam and sweet fern. My older sister and I spent hours wandering around beaver dams and, on dares, could be found swimming in the mucky, leach infested water. Afternoon activities revolved around the lake, but early mornings, before the black flies got truly vicious, were spent picking berries for any number of our Memere’s tantalizing desserts . These were the highlight of the evening meal. Chicken, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes with gravy and for special occasions, Canadian tortiere. The camp was always brimming to full capacity with our family, friends and relatives. Memere spent most of her time cooking, working on 1000 piece puzzles, playing solitaire and reading Prevention magazine.
On our trek to camp, my father would stop at William’s Meat Market at the foot of the mountain to pick up provisions to last the weekend. My siblings chose to wait in the car while I relished the store experience. Stacks of wooden cheese containers lined the shelves and were filled with aging cheeses. The air was pungent with the odor of cheese in full bloom. My father would sample Mr. William’s mouth watering delights making pleasured guttural sounds and their conversation became muffled as they worked their way to the counter to settle the purchases. I would wander around the store looking at the decorative signs, food labels, gadgets, and utilitarian items which no camp could be without. The visit with Mr. Williams completed, we would make our way up the steep mountain in the packed Country Squire, engine whining, until we kids would excitedly announce that our dirt road was in sight.
My mother accepted camp, although she was attracted to a finer material world. The willing helping hands were a reprieve in the caregiving of her four young children. Mom spent most of her time sunning on the shared beach in her Marilyn Monroe-esque way. She was very stylish and quite pretty and she enjoyed the attention that came with this.
Our camp structure was probably 800 square feet, had knotty pine walls, a pot-bellied wood stove, well used 1920’s furniture along with some rustic pieces made by my dad. There were old iron beds with creaky metal springs stacked high with wool blankets that smelled of moth balls. Linoleum, which crackled under foot, covered the kitchen and hallway floors. Cast iron plaques on the walls with humorous quips and one-liners like “Don’t worry if you work hard and your rewards are few, remember, the mighty oak was once a nut like you” reflected my grandparents’ perspective on life. Never lose your sense of humor. Their lives were hard, though, with many losses, but they treasured family and friends. Sadly, my pepere died when I was six but memere and all of her sisters (the great aunts whose height never reached beyond 4’11) were ever present in our lives. They seemed like the happiest people I ever knew. And so, our camp was the happiest place I ever knew.
Our rustic family camp was a far cry from some of the lavish great camps of the Adirondacks. I think, though, that no matter how spacious or exceptionally designed a camp is, its occupants want to feel a sense of connection to familiarity and past experiences. Not so much a re-creation, but maybe a homage to a place where they felt the happiest in their lives.