Could You Live Here? A Berkshire Makeover Story

Could you live here?

Maybe not your dream house…
but how about now?

A couple weeks ago someone told me there was an article in Country Living about a Berkshire couple, Bobby Houston and Eric Shamie, who together created Hauswork Design, a firm that transforms old residences into vacation rentals. 

Joan, Eric and Bobby (and Bode by the door)

Interestingly, I first got to know Bobby and Eric through John Gruen, the photographer for my soon-to-be-published book — Love Where You Live (out in September!).  The home we feature in our book is their “permanent” Berkshire residence in Alford, MA.  As it happens, John was also the photographer for the Country Living article (click here).

After reading the story I called Bobby to ask him if Auntie M and I could come for a visit to see this beautiful rental property (and their sometimes weekend home) in Southfield, MA in person.  Even though the house is currently rented,  Bobby kindly arranged for us to tour the house.

When I was first scouting for homes for our book, we looked for homes that had a personal aesthetic and reflected the book’s title —  homeowners who clearly loved their homes, used their homes, cooked in their homes, found peace in their homes, read and entertained in their homes.  When you have that combination of authentic living and genuine style, you have a home that is truly special.  That is what Bobby and Eric have done–with all the homes they’ve created.  And this lovely home in the woods with the sound of a rushing stream nearby is no exception.

Bobby and Eric hand-pickled the pine wall paneling and ceilings.

It has a beautiful, clean, zen-like quality but also has warmth and soul.  You could see the thought they put into every decision and detail.   Clearly, renovating homes is an act of love for them…no wonder they turned their passion into a successful business.

Bobby and Eric’s version of “window offices”.  When they live here, they each set up their laptops at the counter and enjoy the view!

Many of the materials and components are sourced from interesting places as well.  The cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms, for example, come from Green Demolitions (an organization which supports sustainable building by recycling tax deductible donations of luxury appliances and fixtures, cabinets, etc. and selling them to builders and the public at deep discounts.)

Kitchen cabinets were found at Green Demolitions and all the appliances–on Craig’s List!

In this amazing renovation they started with a one season summer camp comprised of a one bedroom ranch house, a shed and a garage…set in a beautiful location.  I have to say, I think this transformation is extraordinary and the fact that Bobby and Eric design all of these renovations themselves — most of them detailed enough to use as a building plan — really speaks to their combined talent, thoughtfulness and creativity.  Bravo gentlemen!

the rest of the story in photos!
click to enlarge


  • Judith Owens says:

    Fabulous – used to have Eric’s email address, but it’s changed so can’t tell him in person how much I love this house. As you put it Joan, love where you live and i certainly could love living here!

    Best, Judie Owens

  • Laurie Davis says:

    Joan: This is amazing! When I look at the before and after it’s just incredible! Hope your winter is going well.

  • Jill Rose says:

    Joan, I love seeing the transformation of homes, it gives inspiration and great decorating ideas. You can feel the warmth and ease of living in this one! Can’t wait to get “Love Where You Live”. Jill Rose

  • annie says:

    move over chuck
    bobby your talent for creating cozy spaces to hang out is so inspiring

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