By Josette Keelor
Michael Marcheterre said the home he shares with Craig Morris on Sharpe Street in Strasburg isn't as big as it looks in Country Sampler magazine's May issue.
Marcheterre and Morris make good use of the 1820s home's 1,630 square feet. They purchased the house in 2007, and the following year, they bought the two empty adjacent lots so no one could build anything to obstruct their view of the countryside, Marcheterre said.
"Our view was right down the valley," he said. "... And they were the last vacant lots in the historic district."
The J-shaped property now includes an orchard of apple and peach trees, raised garden plots the couple named Sharpe and High Gardens after Sharpe and High streets, and a barn they had delivered from Appomattox that they've made into a living space for hosting parties or pot luck dinners.
When they moved in, the Shenandoah County house had already been renovated, Marcheterre said.
"Basically, everything we've been doing is outside," he said.
Marcheterre, a paralegal, and Morris, managing attorney of public outreach for the U.S. Trademark Office, said Country Sampler learned about them because of the booth of country primitives and folk art the couple have at Hip and Humble Interior Design Studio at 160 N. Massanutten St., Strasburg. The magazine sent a photographer to their house to take test shots last summer and followed up with a 9 1/2-hour photo shoot in September.
"It's really amazing," Marcheterre said. "Just to get the right lighting with the flashes." It was a cloudy day, so indoor shots of the kitchen featured in the magazine were lit from outside to give the room more light, he said.
The magazine later emailed the couple questions based on the photos editors planned to use.
Featured prominently in the magazine as well as on the couple's property is the ham shack. Included in the original purchase of the home, it's now a reading room.
The cinder block building previously was used for curing hams, Marcheterre said. After cleaning the nails used for hanging hams, he and Morris returned them to their place in the rafters to help maintain the room's history.
"The whole reason we renovated was because we wanted a fireplace," Marcheterre said. They found a mantle from Ebay to be the room's focal point. A wall of custom cubbies holding shoeshine boxes enhances the color and creativity of the space.
"It was one of those things," Marcheterre said. "Every time we saw one ... we'd pick one up."
Black shutters frame the door to an adjoining screened in porch, and the painted sea green cement floor combines the rustic with the comfort of an oval cord rug and four plaid reading chairs.
Morris described the couple's decorating style as "eccentric primitive." Marcheterre called it country, but stressed, "We're a little more formal."
"We pretty much did every decision together," Marcheterre said.
Inside the home, there's more to see than visitors might easily take in.
The kitchen features a collection of carnival canes, which Marcheterre said were carnival prizes during the Great Depression.
Rag balls made from scraps of rugs are on display on a kitchen counter and in the dining room.
"That's one of those things that your grandmother probably had to save," Marcheterre said. He found them online.
The dining room's table features books instead of place settings, and the couple has opted out of chairs.
"Since we love our books, we kind of turned it into a mini library," Marcheterre said.
"We have books everywhere."
Works by Shenandoah Valley artists Bill Whiting, Charles Logan and Edward Cooper fill nearly every available spot along the staircase leading upstairs.
In a guestroom, Marcheterre said, "This room's a prime example of a mix of new and old."
The bed is brand new, he said, but the bedside lamp is made from an old Hohner Harmonica stand.
"We bought it this way from a local antique dealer," he said.
A nursing rocker is "all hand carved on the sides with scrolls," he said. On a wall, a sign from a Maryland dealer reads "Fancy Pigeons for Sale."
Marcheterre's understated explanation of "lots of stuff" gave greater explanation to the couple's booth at Hip and Humble.
"They're actually just part of our collection that we're selling," he said.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org