If you’re someone with a huge imagination, everything you’ve ever wanted can fit in a dream home that’s quite small. Case in point: Astrid Insieme and her husband Brian, who whipped their seasonal 1969 New England A-frame cottage into permanent-residence shape with their own gloved hands. In only 800 rustic square feet, the couple envisioned a home that felt “global, a little chic, and very cozy,” and yet also appropriate to its surroundings in the remote town of Sanbornton, within New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.
The building was not originally equipped for year-round living, so a comprehensive scheme addressed both functional and cosmetic issues, inside and out. Installing proper insulation for frigid winters and reworking the floorplan (including a weekend bedroom for Brian’s 11-year-old daughter, Bella) were fundamental to the plan. Astrid, an interior decorator and stylist, and Brian, an interactive graphic designer and musician, did all of the work — except plumbing and electrical — entirely themselves. This is especially impressive considering they went beyond the basics to revamp the kitchen and bathroom with tons of amenities, and design clever built-ins that make use of wasted nooks and crannies. Most remarkably, the couple also added a stately, barrel-vaulted foyer addition onto the kitchen entrance of the structure.
However powerful the sense of accomplishment feels, Astrid admits that DIY has its drawbacks, like a three-year timeline for a project that was expected to take one at the outset. Going into the job, the couple knew that renovating any home was guaranteed to be rife with challenges. But as Astrid recalls, living in a construction zone inside “a tiny home with wonky, angled walls presents a whole array of unexpected ones.” In the end, Astrid and Brian are so glad they put a personal stamp on the home they created together. –Annie
All photos courtesy of Astrid Insieme.