by Dani

Tonight HGTV’s Design Star was followed by a new show. It was hosted by one of those New Jersey housewives that everyone is so fascinated by. The bleached mannequin with hair extensions was turning a newly built faux stone suburban home into a venue for a Western themed surprise party. Dad commented, “I just love a stone house. I really like stone houses with those round rooms.” Who doesn’t love a turret encased in 1/2″ thick, faux yellow stone?

Growing up my first memory is of a town house we lived in in Methuen. I remember the feeling of the synthetic shag carpeting under my knees and between my fingers. It was the tactile equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. It still makes me cringe. I believe I learned to crawl in this house. I’m not sure if this is standard, but I remember every detail of every house I’ve ever lived in. I could recreate them like movie sets, from the carpeting to the wallpaper, to the wrought iron detailing, to the textured rust colored vinyl on the barrel chairs. This would be less impressive if we didn’t live in eight homes in 18 years.

While design styles change with the seasons, the same basic principles still apply. I knew this at a young enough age to realize that we likely lived in the only English Tudor built in Londonderry, NH in 1980. My parents designed this home themselves and I’m sure they thought it was pretty spectacular. Maybe other people did too…When they drove by after dusk and the water fountain was up and running with it’s red, green, yellow and blue colored lights shining through the droplets, illuminating the white birch trees in our front yard. We had a spare fountain in the basement just in case we wanted to recreate this natural wonder at another property.

For a woman who had a fondness for the saying “all her taste is in her mouth,” mom sure knew how to catch your eye. White stucco, rough exposed beams, colored lights, foundation plantings comprised of lavender roses nestled in a bed of white gravel. A real standout in rural New Hampshire. I have a vivid memory of dad standing on the front porch against this back drop one afternoon wearing a favorite outfit of his. Silk button down shirt with sparrows and his one and only pair of shorts. Denim cutoffs. He paired these with white clogs complete with wooden heels. Absolutely spectacular on legs as white as the birch trees in the front yard. I remember lying in bed one night thinking “I hope he doesn’t wear those clogs to my parent teacher conference.” In retrospect, that thought itself was more absurd than those clogs.