One of the first things Mark did to rennovate the house was to add on a massive, two-story-high great room, using beams and trusses from an old barn he and his family had disassmbled. The room uses old and new wood together for fasciating contrast (we did the same in our house, though not on as grand a scale), with curious objects displayed throughout, everything from a deer's head (Mark is a hunter) to old tools to salvaged blue bottles to a silver sword. Mark created a hexagon out of small triangular scraps of wood when he was first married (I think, using pieces left over from his San Damiano cross business): years later he set it in the floor in front of the fireplace as a parquet inlay. The ample glass windows in this room give a view out into the valley and the woods. Gretchen furnished the room with a few sets of vintage couches and chairs, which are easy to come across in Steubenville (the town is a treasure trove of antiques from the Steel Boom of the last century). The room has a loft that
leads to the bedrooms on the new second floor, and underneath the loft is the family homeschool area. So between homeschool, kids playing, and visitors popping in, this room gets a lot of use! It also, Gretchen tells me, allows them to have a spectacular and oversized Christmas tree in the winter.