The 3,000-square-foot Essex home is the most recent project of the venerable “This Old House” TV series; it will continue the show’s 36th season on Boston’s WGBH (Channel 2). The traditional exterior fits into the historic context of Essex, but looks can be deceiving—it is a brand new house.
Michael Connor’s company, Connor Homes of Vermont of Middlebury, Vermont, opened in 1969, and built and designed houses using “panelized” materials from a manufacturer in upstate New York. And in 2005, the firm began to manufacture its own houses. “A panelized house is more flexible: Custom designed, they have as many parts and pieces built in the shop as possible. You bring preassembled wall sections and put them up, utilizing traditional platform framing. The floor and roof systems are precut and partially assembled. Building one of our houses is not so different from any stick-built house,” says Connor.
He founded Connor Homes to bring new manufacturing technology to scrupulously accurate historic design executed in the best of traditional materials. To get it right, he measured the elements of countless old houses. Today, his company offers a catalog of panelized houses that range from 1,500-square-foot reproductions of 17th-century Capes to 5,000-square-foot Greek Revivals, Georgians, and Federal-style homes. The pricing varies according to the size of the home, its amenities, and the region where it has to be shipped. His firm’s share amounts to about one-third of the total cost of the home, Connor says.
Interior designer Kristina Crestin of Manchester-by-the-Sea developed the decor for the historically inspired structure. Working closely with the homeowners, she created an interior that features the blues and grays of the New England sea and sky. Hanging barn-door tracks on the pantry and in the dining room, steel piping in the master closet, and bronze and brass lighting fixtures over the kitchen island demonstrate an industrial sensibility, is a favorite design motif of Crestin’s. To see more of the stunning house and an interview with Crestin on her interior design tune into PBS. Visit thisoldhouse.com
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