Norm Abram of This Old House (center) with Joanne (right) and Reese Kennedy (left)
In 1974, my husband and I purchased an old English Tudor home. It had a beautiful brick exterior with good bones, steel beam construction, plaster walls, exquisite architectural details and lovely curb appeal; however it was sorely in need of updating. We rolled up our sleeves, established a five year plan and ventured into projects. We ripped up carpets to bare the original oak floors, stripped layers of paint off the beautiful walnut doors, casings, 5” floor mouldings and 14 windows. As we finished a room, a fresh coat of paint and our own decorating began to bring new life into our much loved home. The ladder and tool box were always close by.
Little did we know that restoring our home would be hands-on job training for the next chapter of our lives, launching our humble events business. In those days, work and home melded together. I worked from home, while working on my home improvement projects, which in turn fueled ideas on how to enhance our home improvement shows. My office was the dining room table and many meetings and brainstorming sessions took place at this gathering space.
Over the past 30 years we have seen many changes in this event. What began with 30 exhibitors in a small suburban shopping mall has blossomed into a biannual tradition, hosting 300 award-winning contractors, creative craftsmen and talented designers. Many of our clients have family businesses like we do and it warms my heart to see so many second and third generations successfully taking the reigns of responsibility.In the 1980’s we expanded our home with a two-story addition for a family room and master suite. That was another leap of faith for our family, and our vision of creating a warm, welcoming space forged the way. This project delivered fabulous results, with added living areas and also provided the name of our current event, The Old House New House Home Show. We had the character and mystique of an older home with all of the modern comforts of new surroundings.
Special guests like Norm Abram, Kevin O’Conner, Roger Cook, Rich Trethewey, Tom Silva and Steve Thomas from This Old House have attracted audiences and delighted homeowners with hands-on, helpful advice. Other guests include Dean Johnson and Joann Liebeler of Hometime, Nicole Curtis from Rehab Addict, and our current featured guests, Lou Manfredini and Frank Fontana. Each expert has added creative energy, innovation and excitement.
This event has been witness to a full range of housing market conditions, a variety of interest rates and fluctuating consumer confidence outlooks. Throughout these changes the concept of home has remained very much the same. Our homes are the hubs of our lives and the safe havens for our families to gather, relax, regroup and rest. Over the past 30 years The Old House New House Home Show has been a steadfast fixture helping homeowners weather the storm of ever changing demands of home life.
The world around us continues to change with the onset of technology and information, alternative building techniques, new construction materials, smart homes and affordable renewable energy. Home living will continue to evolve; The Old House New House Home Show will continue to adapt, providing an inspiring, reliable resource and helping homeowners usher in the changes with ease.
Joanne Kennedy is the President of Kennedy Productions, Inc. She is still enjoying her English Tudor, where she continues to lovingly maintain and improve her surroundings with help from many Old House New House experts.