Laura Kennedy McNamara Shares a Glimpse at the Home That Began This Business
The often-running dryer usually welcomed me home with scented steam as I traipsed up the long sloping driveway, past the lamp post at 588 Turner. This was my childhood home in the western suburbs where our family lived for 43 years.
This home, and its restoration, helped my parents to create this event, The Old House New House Home Show. Being on a budget, my parents were resourceful, semi-handy and brave enough to try projects they would see on This Old House TV programs or in The Old House Journal. My Mom had (and still has!) her own olive green tool box. My Dad had a 6 foot aluminum ladder and an old black and white TV that followed him around the house from project to project. As they learned about repair, remodeling, renovation and maintenance, they wanted to share their knowledge and experiences with other 1970’s rehabbers.
So, 588 Turner became more than just our family home, it was also the office as my parents were beginning to build a burgeoning business. My Mom would have meetings with advertising reps and media contacts in the large dining room, with papers spread out across the antique table and ideas streaming like sunshine through the tall, lovely windows. Working from home, Mom could multi-task, starting loads of laundry and serving many stews, soups and chili made with love in her slow cooker.
Every now and again, our family life would spill into the business. This usually happened around the busy kitchen, with the many line phone ringing on the wall. Mom would shush us as she spoke with clients such as Mike Campbell of Classic Gutter, John Gallagher of EDI or Gene Grant of Grant and Power… gentlemen we are lucky enough to still call clients of Kennedy Productions.
In December, new owners moved in to this stately Tudor. Before the closing, I said goodbye to my favorite spaces in and around the home: the front stair case with the textured, elegant plaster walls where super balls flew and Silly Putty bounced really well, the climbing tree on the front parkway, the bedroom window seat that held my boom box in the 80’s and often doubled as a desk, and the space behind the garage along the iron fence, where I used to hide for Ghost in the Graveyard and Kick the Can.
This home hosted many gatherings, sleepovers, showers, a pre-sunrise brunch to celebrate the Royal wedding, birthday parties, play dates, Christmas parties with plaid pants a-plenty, tea parties, holiday meals and even some mug-waving piano parties with my parents’ musically talented friend from the UK. The most important quality of 588 Turner was that everyone always felt a warm sense of welcome within those walls. Whether it was the UPS man delivering office supplies, neighbors coming in the side door off the driveway, clients, contractors, childhood friends, employees, advertising reps or my Dad’s golf buddies… everyone felt a strong sense of belonging in this special space.
As we open the doors on our 34th annual Old House New House Home Show this weekend, we hope that you feel this same warm welcome as you browse through booths from this gathering of our skilled clients and talented participants. Thank you for attending this event and here’s to creating the memorable, magical home of your dreams.
Laura Kennedy McNamara lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her family, where she is working on her own fixer-upper one room at a time.