When Alyson Horrocks, along with her husband, Russ, and four children, relocated from California to the East coast, she had her heart set on finding an antique home in one of New England’s quintessential villages. Initially settling in Connecticut, the family soon realized that to truly have the authentic New England experience they were seeking, they would need to find a place that was more centrally located. But it wasn’t until they were out scouting small towns within an hour’s drive of Boston that they happened upon the village of Amherst, New Hampshire, and knew they’d found the town in which they wanted to put down roots.
The village green, with its stately meetinghouse, monuments, and bench-bordered walkways snaking through it, looked like something conjured from a movie set or perhaps the pages of an old-fashioned storybook. The small town charm, good schools, and proximity to Boston were exactly what they’d been hoping to find. With the location chosen, their attention turned to finding the perfect home, which for them would be a historic house that was not in need of renovation or repair. Proximity to the village ranked next in order of importance.
Just as it had been love at first sight when they initially circled the green, Alyson felt a connection to the late 18th-century Colonial nestled on one of the village’s side streets the moment she passed through its doors. The side door, which acts as the primary entrance, opens into an expansive kitchen that had been recently updated to blend with the historic style of the house. That the colors matched Alyson’s aesthetic was simply an added bonus.
But the exposed beams in the living room really sealed the deal. “The warmth, the character, and history those beams brought to the space—it was exactly what I was looking for,” says Alyson. And it just got better from there. At nearly 4000 square feet, not only was there plenty of room for the family of six, but it was also the perfect mix of modern convenience and historic charm.
With its wide-planked pine floors, brick-faced fireplace, wooden-door clad cubby holes, and bank of windows, the living room is the kind of which house-hunting dreams are made. Deep-seated sofas, minimal decoration, and absolutely no clutter make for a room in which you can envision yourself kicking back with a good book.
The first floor boasts three such rooms to lounge in, all with that slightly old-world feel that’s become Alyson’s decorating trademark. Pass between the front door and main stairway, and you’ll enter the second— the library—featuring a built-in bookcase, sprawling hearth, and woodstove.
The library flows into the burnished-copper hued dining room, with a built-in hutch as its main focal point. It also includes a hand-painted medallion on the ceiling. Alyson completed the look by hanging an antique mirror that matched the aged look of the space.
The dining room runs back into the kitchen, but that does not complete the first-floor tour. A hallway, flanked by a bathroom and pantry on either side, stretches back into the spacious family room.
Of course no old New England house would be complete without a ghost in residence. Although not included on the home’s listing sell sheet, various members of the family have heard weeping, laughter, and even a few sentences uttered in French drifting from the library.
Infused into the home’s style are pieces of art and ephemera that speak to Alyson’s love of all things historic, New England, and, yes, even a bit spooky—like the portrait she had painted of her family that includes the image of their home’s specter flitting through the village burying ground.
With an abundance of space for the kids to spread out, rooms filled with historic details including quirky nooks and crannies, and a resident ghost, the time Alyson spent searching for her dream home paid off. And with the task of finding the perfect place behind her, she now has plenty of time to focus on writing for her site, NewEnglandLiving.com, where she chronicles life in the six-state region.