Gurski Residence


In January, 2012, the Gurskis encountered a challenge that many new home owners face. They had just purchased a new home, chosen primarily for its prime location in a neighborhood that would be great for their growing family. But the house itself left a lot to be desired. Especially considering the fact that they were expecting a third child right before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Gurskis knew that some changes to the interior space would be necessary for the house to fit their family’s needs.

The biggest problems with the house were lack of storage, laundry down in the basement, a small, cramped kitchen, no room for the kids to play in, and inadequate overall space. Having worked successfully with Jen on kitchen and bathroom remodels in their previous home, the couple decided to call her to visit their new home and get a plan in action.

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Escher at the Currier

Escher at the Currier

The entrance and exit to “M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion” at the Currier Museum of Art through Jan. 5. Photo by J.L. Stevens

“Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check.” – M. C. Escher

Ah, Escher — the man known for his impossibly wonderful, wonderfully impossible drawings and prints. He’s a man, as the director and CEO of the Currier Museum of Art, Susan Strickler says, “whose works are instantly recognizable, but whose first name is less well known.” The works of “M.C. (Maurits Cornelis) Escher: Reality and Illusion” exhibit is on display through Jan. 5 at the Manchester museum. And it is well worth the 45 minute drive from the Seacoast.

Granted the exhibit is highly visual, and that is only enhanced by the supply of magnifying glasses stationed at points throughout.

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On The Town – Coastal Living

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a city of historic charm, with tempting shops and restaurants nestled along its waterfront streets. Overlooking the Piscataqua River and the iconic Memorial Bridge is a handsome brick and granite multi-story building in the classic Early American style. Located in the historic district, it could easily be a structure from an earlier time, except this one was built in 2008. It offers a mix of retail space on the first floor and residential space on the upper floors. The third and fourth floors are the elegant condominium residence of Peggy Lamb and her husband, Steve. Peggy also operates Botanica, the shop on the ground floor, and rents the second floor condo unit.

“We raised our four children in a large 1750 Colonial in Exeter, New Hampshire,” Peggy says. “Once they were grown, the house was too big for us. We decided to look for a small building in downtown Portsmouth,

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Bold and Brash (and almost over!)


Get to the latest exhibit at the Discover Portsmouth Center. It’s “Bold and Brash: The Art of John Haley Bellamy.” And go, even if you don’t like eagles (the exhibit consists largely of eagles carved of wood.) The exhibit, as well as the people who created it and tend to it, are quite captivating.

The Discover Portsmouth Center is located in the home of the former Portsmouth Library, on two floors. Upon entering, you will first be struck by all of the winged splendor, but you will also see autographed copies of American Eagle: The Bold Art and Brash Life of John Haley Bellamy, which highlights the centennial of Bellamy’s death, and is written by the exhibit curator James Craig.

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A Bungalow, a Victorian, a Tent or an Igloo

Want to sleep in an igloo with 15 of your closest friends?

A bungalow, a victorian, a tent or an igloo — Airbnb’s all about variety

We recently spent a dreamy night on an island in Vermont, about 15 minutes north of Burlington. The night included our choice of two bedrooms or a sleeping porch that was literally one foot from the waters of Lake Champlain. It was easy, informal and a first: it was obtained via Airbnb.

If you’d heard about Airbnb, it’s probably because you’ve used it, or read in the newspapers or online about disgruntled neighbors wary of temporary house guests.

At its essence, Airbnb is a way for the everyday person to rent out their living space.

Not only can you pick from housing all over the United States,

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Designer’s Checklist for Fall


1. Go apple picking at Butternut Farm, 195 Meaderboro Road, Farmington. It might be a drive from Portsmouth, but they’ve got an apple schedule on their website that will keep you in the know. As of “press” time, Zestar apples were in their prime. Haven’t heard of Zestar? They’ve got a description: mild sweet flavor, and fresh eating.

2. Start a Pinterest/Houzz board for home studio. Chances are, you’ve heard of Pinterest. It’s a visual discovery tool used to collect ideas for projects and interests. And, if Houzz is new to you, in its most elemental sense, it’s Pinterest for houses. From the kitchen to the closet to the wine cellar, you’ll find it on Houzz. SOMMA is working on our Houzz page. When we’re ready, we’ll be sure to share!

3. Pick out curtains by actually going in a store to see and touch them.

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Disney for Grown-ups


Disney: of course it’s not just for children. Someone has to pay the way and play the grownup, right?

Well, sort of.

Jennifer Ramsey is no stranger to Walt Disney’s wonderful world of fantasy in Florida. She visited yearly with her family growing up (and still does!) Most of the year, she’s a Founder, Managing Partner, and Lead Designer at SOMMA Studios, LLC, in Portsmouth, which is why she can’t totally separate herself from that during vacation. And why would she want to? It makes life interesting.

Walt Disney World is 40 square miles of opportunity to craft your own vacation– as lazy or as active as you choose to make it. As a destination seen through the eyes of a designer, consider this, Walt Disney World is, at its base, a planned community. From a dream, its design and conception,

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Adaptive Reuse: More Prevalent Than Ever

Chinburg Builders, Newmarket, NH, is a strong example of adaptive reuse on the Seacoast. Courtesy photo.

SOMMA is a wealth of knowledge for design, art and architecture, and one topic near and dear to Jennifer Ramsey’s heart is adaptive reuse. We picked her brain and were left wondering about the architecture of Portsmouth’s future, built on Portsmouth past. For more information about SOMMA, visit or contact them at

Q: Can you give us a quick definition of adaptive reuse?

A: Adaptive reuse is a term used to describe the conservation, renovation and reuse of structures, often for uses other than they were originally intended. Great examples usually entail old manufacturing and utilitarian structures repurposed for residential or community oriented uses. A popular example of this would be the Gasometer City in Vienna.

Q: What are examples of projects SOMMA has worked on that have involved adaptive reuse?

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Historic Happenings

Portsmouth Historical Society

Of Portsmouth’s many groups and creative crews, one of SOMMA’s favorite nonprofits is the Portsmouth Historical Society, which now calls home the space once filled by “the old library.”

While its physical home is contained to 10 Middle St., its reach is felt all over the Port City. The group operates the museum and Discover Portsmouth visitor center in downtown Portsmouth, publishes books, manages the Black Heritage Trail and advocates for historic preservation.

Below, is just one of the many activities of an historic and architectural nature, that is slated for the month of June. Find out more at

On Saturday, June 21 at 1 p.m., join Richard M. Candee, for the “Landmarks of Downtown Portsmouth” tour. Reservations required by calling 436-8433.

A tour lead by Candee, author of “Building Portsmouth,” will explore this city’s intriguing architectural landscape.

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Here’s What You Didn’t Know

SOMMA founder and designer, Jen Ramsey and Georgie Girl at home. Photo courtesy of Topher Cox Photography for Bangor Savings Bank.

You can tell a lot about SOMMA from their website, but until now, you’d never see a photograph of its founder, designer Jennifer Ramsey. But, we didn’t stop at acquiring a terrific photograph (courtesy of Topher Cox Photography for Bangor Savings Bank, but that’s another story). We asked the burning questions. Read on:

Q: What are your three favorite apps on your phone right now?

A: Houzz, Flipboard and One Kings Lane

Q: If you could only eat one more meal at a restaurant in Portsmouth, what would it be and why?

A: This is a ridiculously tough one, but in thinking of some of my most memorable nights out, I am going to go with Mombo.

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