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The hand-crafted home: How a creative family of three lives well in 750 square feet

  • Molly Hatch designs products for brands like Anthropologie and Garnet Hill, and has created one-of-a-kind installations for the Newark Museum in New Jersey and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in her studio at the Arts & Industry building in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Detail of a work-in-progress art installation by Molly Hatch in her studio in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Molly Hatch designs products for brands like Anthropologie and Garnet Hill, and has created one-of-a-kind installations for the Newark Museum in New Jersey and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in her studio at the Arts & Industry building in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Molly Hatch designs products for brands like Anthropologie and Garnet Hill, and has created one-of-a-kind installations for the Newark Museum in New Jersey and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in her studio at the Arts & Industry building in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aside from designing products for brands like Anthropologie and Garnet Hill, Molly Hatch has created one-of-a-kind installations for the Newark Museum in New Jersey and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in her studio at the Arts & Industry building in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Molly Hatch with her dog, Hank, in her studio at 221 Pine Street in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Molly Hatch has a studio in the Arts & Industry building in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver Hatch has a woodworking studio at 12 Water Street in Leeds, Oct. 16. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver Hatch also has a nearby workshop, located in Leeds, where he runs his company, Hatch Design Build. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver Hatch works in his studio at 12 Water Street in Leeds. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cabinet made by Oliver Hatch in the family's living room. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver Hatch works in his studio at 12 Water Street in Leeds. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver Hatch works in his studio at 12 Water Street in Leeds. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • This cabinet in the Hatches’ home was built by Oliver Hatch; the floor tiles were designed by Molly Hatch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • This cabinet in the Hatches home was built by Oliver Hatch; the floor tiles were designed by Molly Hatch GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tile and soap dispenser was designed by Molly Hatch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The built-in-couch in the family’s living room was designed by Oliver Hatch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The tile back splash in kitchen was designed by Molly Hatch; the cutting board was made by Oliver Hatch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • More examples of how the home is filled with the couple’s creations: These shelves in the kitchen were made by Oliver Hatch; the dishes designed by Molly Hatch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The furnishings in the master bedroom include a bedskirt and curtains Molly Hatch designed for Anthropologie. The decorative pillows are from bon n’ton in downtown Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Camilla Hatch, 8, with her dog, Hank, in her room. Molly Hatch designed the wallpaper for Chasing Paper and the bedding for Land of Nod. Oliver Hatch built the bed. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The cabinet in Camilla's room was made by Oliver Hatch. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Camilla Hatch sits on her bed, built by her dad, with bedding designed by her mother for Land of Nod. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver and Molly Hatch with Camilla, 8, and Hank the dog in their living room. The built-in couch by Oliver was created to work in a tight space. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver and Molly Hatch with Camilla, 8, and Hank in their living room. Built-in couch by Oliver Hatch. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Molly Hatch's garage studio. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Oliver Hatch's garage studio. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Hatches often entertain in their backyard. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The couple also has home studios in their renovated garage. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Hatch family makes the most of every inch of space in their home on Cloverdale Street in Florence. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Bulletin
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

In 2003, ceramicist Molly Hatch was living in what she calls “A Quaker commune” in Boston. As far as communes go, The Beacon Hill Friends House was a handsome one, two blocks from the State House and attributed to the early American architect Charles Bulfinch. It was there that she met a preservation carpenter named Oliver, the man who would become her husband, who’d come to restore the building’s antique windows. (Already the carpenter for the Ralph Waldo Emerson House museum in Concord, he was also responsible for historically accurate bedposts and columns and everything in between.)

“She was the first person I met when I showed up,” he remembers, “we connected over clay.”

Fourteen years later, they share a 750-square foot 1948 post-war Cape in Florence with their 8-year-old daughter, Camilla. Molly designs products for brands like Anthropologie and Garnet Hill, and has created one-of-a-kind installations for the Newark Museum in New Jersey and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from her 1,500-square-foot ceramic studio at the Arts & Industry building in Florence. Oliver shares a 4,000-square-foot studio with three other woodworkers in Leeds, where he runs Hatch Design Build (hatchdesignbuild.com), whose projects range from timber frame construction to custom cabinets.

For a long time, Molly says, they looked for real estate that offered “more studio than house, but that didn’t really exist. This place was just big enough.”

The idea was to keep their overhead low so they could earn money as creatives and make it all work. It’s a very deliberate approach, one that Molly, 39, endeavors to instill in the studio assistants she hires out of grad school and provides with studio space and tools for starting their own businesses. Part of the education they get is a lesson in frugality: “I often have them over for meals so they can see that despite what might seem sort of glamorous on the exterior ” — a life that includes museum openings, and plenty of work from high-profile companies —“I’m not overextending myself, and that I’m living within my means and trying really hard to craft a career that’s sustainable.”

Every inch counts

Their resulting home has a handmade warmth that comes from being thoughtful about every inch. Yes, only four people can fit around their kitchen table, and when they do, quips Molly, “The person on the left can reach into the fridge and the person on the right can reach into the sink.”

Yet Oliver cites that very table, “where we gather for meals,” as the most meaningful spot in the house. At dinner, they discuss design challenges: Should Oliver construct benches for their mudroom or cubbies like Camilla has at school? What should they look like? And should Molly fire hexagonal tiles for the floor to play off the ones she made for their backsplash? Back and forth they volley, with Camilla chiming in with her suggestions.

Oliver estimates that he’s built three-quarters of their furniture, from beds to cutting boards and plate racks.

In the living room, which originally felt cramped with little more than a couple of chairs, he solved the seating conundrum by designing a built-in sofa. “I was inspired by boats,” he explains, “With such a small space, how else do you make it work?”

Upholstered in sturdy blue denim from Osgood’s in West Springfield (“It kind of blew my mind going in there,” Oliver says of the 72,000-square-foot fabric warehouse) the piece ingeniously doubles as two twin-sized guest beds. “Though it takes a special kind of person to sleep in your living room with no doors and no privacy,” he admits.

The couple has to be judicious about what they buy — and keep. That said, they’re not minimalists. Oliver, whose father was British, says, “Both of us come from families whose houses were packed to the gills with stuff, but done well,” in that typically English way. Molly has acquired all manner of plants and planters from Kestrel, as well as pillows and colorful tassels from bon n’ton, both in downtown Northampton. “I love objects with a story, a maker behind them and visual depth and texture,” she says.

In her daughter’s room, she designed the geometric removable wallpaper for Chasing Paper and the bedding for Land of Nod — she likes to road test her products as a way of informing future designs. Otherwise, “A lot of things represent our family histories,” she says, pointing to some indigo pillows she had made from a blanket Oliver’s grandparents brought back from Nigeria. She even recently wrote and illustrated an homage to the Delftware, faience, and porcelain pottery she grew up with, called “A Passion for China: A Little Book about the Objects We Eat From, Live with and Love,” out next month.

Savoring community

Molly was raised on an organic dairy farm in Vermont, by parents who’d been influenced by “The Good Life” homesteaders Helen and Scott Nearing. “My parents were the original hipsters,” she says. Even now, Oliver says, “Her father hand-splits fence rails to stay fit in the wintertime.”

Molly learned plenty of practical skills, but found farm life isolating as a child. “We both had rural childhood experiences, and wanted so much for our daughter to have a neighborhood of kids who knock on each other’s doors.” And they’ve found that — a community of young families — here. Village life has informed their serendipitous and resourceful entertaining style — which capitalizes on their atmospheric backyard, rather than relying on the house itself. “We do casual, last-minute, invite-the-neighborhood to roast marshmallows,” type-shindigs, says Molly. Naturally, the fire pit is an Oliver invention, devised from an old wagon wheel. And the long curvy locust trestle table, which he placed on a salvaged cast-metal base atop a Goshen stone patio planted with creeping thyme, was also made by hand. “In the evenings, all these kids come out of the woodwork to play capture the flag,” she says. “This is such a wonderful place to grow up.”

Katy McColl Lukens can be reached at katymccollwork@gmail.com.

How to connect

To see Molly Hatch’s studio — and those of 50-plus other artists — visit the Arts & Industries Open Studios and Holiday Sale, 221 Pine St., Florence, Nov. 11-12. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.