“I have over 400 bot­tles. No du­pli­cates.”

Country Sampler's Prairie Style - - Pioneers -

In a quin­tes­sen­tial East Coast neigh­bor­hood of West Hart­ford, Con­necti­cut, sits a ru­ral cabin dis­guised as a quaint Cape Cod– style cot­tage. It’s the home of Jim Healy, who—in ad­di­tion to be­ing an ar­chi­tect—is some­thing of an al­chemist, busily trans­form­ing rusty old finds into ap­peal­ing fur­nish­ings. “I like sto­ried pieces, sim­plic­ity, and the sense of be­ing in the woods of Ver­mont,” he says. While Jim is more likely to be found at a tag sale than in a ca­noe, he sur­rounds him­self with a na­ture-in­spired pal­ette of browns and greens, gen­er­ally ac­cented with a pri­mary color in a faded tone. “I love col­ors that evoke na­ture and in­te­grate them in my home and work,” Jim ex­plains. Large pic­ture win­dows in most ev­ery room are kept bare ex­cept for cor­nice boards, which frame views of the many trees on the prop­erty; only bed­rooms have cur­tains for pri­vacy.

Yan­kee in­ge­nu­ity abounds in Jim’s de­signs, where each piece of fur­ni­ture is cre­ated for a spe­cific pur­pose. “I needed a place for my TV so I built an ar­moire,” he says. Once Jim has sketched and built some­thing, the next step is gen­er­ally

to make it look old and worn. “Friends can’t be­lieve that the ar­moires and jelly cab­i­net were con­structed of new pine,” says Jim, who fol­lows coats of paint with var­i­ous meth­ods of dis­tress­ing, from chem­i­cal to phys­i­cal. “Each piece needs to look like it’s worn from years of touch,” he says.

In con­trast to larger dark pieces, Jim is drawn to bright vin­tage graphic de­sign, and his home is filled with pops of col­or­fully branded con­tain­ers, such as the pa­rade of oil tins lin­ing the top of a res­cued su­per­mar­ket sign. Ledge shelves— just 6 inches wide—keep part of his prized bot­tle col­lec­tion in view. “I have over 400 bot­tles. No du­pli­cates,” he ex­plains. Jim also fash­ioned a fix­ture for an as­sem­blage of cob­bler’s tools. “These units be­come sort of art in­stal­la­tions within my home,” he says.

Jim de­scribes him­self as a junker-artist-de­signer-fab­ri­ca­tor, a ti­tle that fits him well. There isn’t a lamp in his house that hasn’t been put to­gether from ob­jects as ran­dom as a fun­nel and a ther­mos, a flag­pole and a spin­dle, an architectural frag­ment, or a pile of twigs. How­ever, the ar­chi­tect has a crit­i­cal eye when brows­ing garage sales and shops and knows in an in­stant if he can use some­thing or not. “Trust your gut,” he says. “It’s as sim­ple as that.”

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