Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's in a Name?

Welcome! Today I'm participating in Shelley Turner's "What's in a Name?" Blog Hop, where several designers are telling the story behind the name of their blog, site, or business.

The name of my blog and studio actually started from a dream-- a dream my husband and I shared of building our own home. Not the traditional way of hiring contractors to do  most of it... no, we thought we'd like to do it ourselves.

That's me, the chop saw chick. You might think we were contractors, or somehow otherwise qualified to take this on. No, I was a stay at home mom at the time, and my husband worked in an office. We had done quite a few DIY projects in the past, but the most we'd ever built was a shed. A SHED. Until 2003. And somehow... we're still married. But that's another blog post...

We bought property, worked with an architect at First Day Cottage, and came up with a plan. The property we chose to build on was a heavily wooded ravine. At the top of the hill, looking down to the building site, were two little paper birch trees. Eventually, I thought, they would grow into a beautiful gateway to our home, so we named the place Twin Birch Cottage, and of course, started a blog.

Here are my kids and a family friend watching the 'dozers from the birch trees.

Construction was underway! Then, just as the site was cleared, the driveway was in and the basement was about finished, a storm hit and knocked down one of the birch trees. I was crushed. But we carried on and my dad planted a new birch tree for us-- this time a River Birch, better suited to our site.

Soon we had a basement, and a floor, and rafters.

 The idea behind the First Day Cottage is that a couple or family could purchase all the materials and the plan necessary to get a house weather-tight in 12 weeks. With the help of lots of family and friends, we got our larger model weather-tight in about 16 weeks.

Over the next 6-7 months, we worked on the interior, hiring a mason to build a masonry heater, building our two tall staircases, and adding building our kitchen around this antique surgery sink salvaged from a local landmark.


The second summer of the project, another storm hit and took out the second paper birch. I'm not making this up.But this time we just laughed and shook our heads. Twin Birch Cottage had no more birches, but this is the view from where the birches used to be. When it came time to name my business, my studio, my blog-- what else would I choose except the name of our one-time dream-- a dream we made reality with a lot of hard work and a lot of help from family and friends!

Hope you enjoyed the story of Twin Birch Studio-- please visit the rest of the participants, and don't forget to wish Shelly Graham Turner a happy birthday!


 Blog Host/Birthday Girl! - Shelley Graham Turner of Tori Sophia


  1. Very cool story~ (by the way I LOVE that sink :-D )

  2. Jenna,
    Wow, you are a brave woman. You had a dream and you acted on it and the result is just WOW! Your house is gorgeous - I want to see the finished inside though!

    I love that picture of the kids..if you put a couple cups of coffee in their hands you'd swear they were adults discussing the progress and the next step in the plan. You might of lost two trees but seeing something built from start to finish PLANTED DREAMS in their little heads!

    PS Thanks for attending my party!
    ~ Shelley

  3. What a great story! I admire your willingness to tackle this huge project.

  4. You have taken DIY to a whole new level. May the joy(?) of building it live on in the many years you spend living in it.

  5. You have made your dream come true...Amazing story! Beautiful home and love the name too!

  6. What a great story behind your studio name! :)

  7. Wow! Great story, and even greater courage and tenacity in building your dream cottage. Nice work!

  8. Now I am impressed! Not only did you have a drean, you acted on it to become a reality...a DIY reality at that!!! It is lovely! And, your story, and the name behind it, are memorable!

  9. Way to go....What a delightful dream.So glad you could realise it.Great blog.Love and hugs Tanya