Martha Stewart Living - - Contents -

At a fam­ily’s week­end re­treat, bold colors meet eco-bril­liance.

THE MEM­ORY OF A SLAM­MING SCREEN DOOR in Robert McCloskey’s clas­sic chil­dren’s book One Morn­ing

in Maine guided Jessie and Matt Shee­han in their search for a Con­necti­cut es­cape. The full-time Brook­lynites wanted a ru­ral-feel­ing spot where they could kick back with their two sons on week­ends and hol­i­days, and do more of the things they love: Jessie is a lawyer turned baker and au­thor, most re­cently of The Vin­tage Baker (Chron­i­cle); Matt is an ur­ban farmer and en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tor. Their fan­tasy was McCloskey’s sim­ple cot­tage, with the sort of mid­cen­tury kitchen kids dash through to grab a snack on their way to the next ad­ven­ture.

But they couldn’t find the house they wanted, where they wanted it. “The kinds of homes Matt and I love are very old, but in a town like Sharon, Con­necti­cut, all the beau­ti­ful old homes are right on the road,” says Jessie. So, work­ing with Rafe Churchill and Heide Hendricks, the hus­band-and-wife duo be­hind lo­cal de­sign firm Hendricks Churchill, they de­cided to start from scratch on a wide-open plot that had been part of a dairy farm. The Shee­hans spent two years camp­ing there in an Airstream on the week­ends, de­cid­ing ex­actly where to build. Then they de­vised a plan for an up­dated, evolved ver­sion of a his­toric house. The re­sult has all the same charm but is spa­cious, eco-smart, and close enough to town for a milk or sugar run.

Just like Jessie’s recipes, the place takes vin­tage ideas and runs with them. The trim and doors are painted in tra­di­tional Shaker colors, and the walls are cov­ered in semipol­ished Vene­tian-style plas­ter. Ar­chi­tec­tural sal­vage yards and an­tiques stores were their go-to sources for fix­tures and light­ing, with a Flos pen­dant light in the din­ing room as a rare ex­cep­tion. The re­sult could pass for a 19th-cen­tury gem till you no­tice the gen­er­ous pro­por­tions of the rooms and door­ways, and all the sus­tain­able fea­tures, from so­lar pan­els to a rain­wa­ter cis­tern to a stand­alone Frigidaire freezer, where, in true sto­rybook fash­ion, Jessie stores sur­plus berries for the win­ter.

The home the Shee­hans built fea­tures a screened porch and so­lar pan­els. Op­po­site,from left: Jessie rolls out her ev­ery­thing but­ter­milk bis­cuits. L. L. Bean blan­kets cover an­tique can­non­ball beds in older son Oliver’s room. Shaker pegs hold Jessie’s aprons and hus­band Matt’s gar­den­ing hats.

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