Joan Ross was a Texas girl, born and raised. She lived in Dallas, and when she and her husband, Dan, an airline pilot, settled down, it was in the Lone Star State. They expected to stay there forever, close to family and friends, him flying and her operating an antiques business.
But, after a trip to New England, Dan showed her a book of homes he picked up, and that plan of staying in Texas didn’t feel so perfect anymore. Pretty soon their relocation was settled, and they were house hunting in New England.
“When we were in Dallas, we were tired of the heat and the buzz of the city,” Ross said. “It energized a lot of people, but it drained us. We wanted the four seasons. We never even thought, Let’s leave, until we saw the houses.”
It’s now been eight years in New Hampshire. She started the blog For the Love of a House as a way to stay connected to friends and family around the country.
“It was easier than e-mail,” she said with a laugh.
But after being featured on a few other popular blogs, her audience grew, and now she feels like she has an online life full of like-minded, home-obsessed friends.
“This started so organically and has been a community,” she said. “It’s a happy group. For the Love of a House, it’s talking about people who love their houses.”
Ross talked to us about loving her adoptive state, old homes, and rescue dogs.
Tell me more about how you ended up in New Hampshire, which is kind of the polar opposite of Texas.
We had come off two back-to-back hot summers: 30 days of over 100.
I said in jest, “We’re moving,” but a seed was planted. We never even thought to leave until we saw the houses. To see these gorgeous homes that were everywhere . . .
Within a couple of weeks, we went up and looked around. [My husband] needs to live an hour’s drive from an airport. We loved the northwestern corner of Connecticut, but we didn’t want to live in a suburb of Boston or New York. New Hampshire just seemed like it was in the frozen tundra. I didn’t know where it was on the map. I had to look it up. I said the gardening zone was too low, but one day we crossed into the Monadnock region, and it was an instant feeling of “We’re home.”
There are really not too many days that go by where we don’t say, “Oh, look where we get to live.” We have just loved it.
Has it been odd adjusting to such a different place? Did you worry you were going to hate it once you got here?
People asked, “What if you don’t like it?” I said, “We’d just move back.” But I knew that wouldn’t happen. We did our research.
We love it even more than we thought we would. We say: “Imagine growing up here. Imagine that this would be your childhood backyard.”
What’s something that stands out as being exciting and different?
The only times I saw leaves like this as a child was when the teacher would put them on the wall.
What I love about the fall is that it’s long. In the South, the leaves are down literally in two weeks. They don’t turn beautiful colors, and it’s so hot when it happens, so it takes the charm out of it.
We get out in nature a lot, and we have rescue dogs. They help us get out and about in the winter.
Your dogs definitely have a place on the blog.
I am an advocate for adopting. I work with a kill shelter in Texas to place the dogs. I post a dog of the week from the shelter. I get to merge the passion for rescuing animals with the blog.
You’ve documented the big renovation you’ve done to your New Hampshire farmhouse on the blog. What was it like to do a big renovation with all your readers watching?
We renovated the farmhouse proper and turned the attached barn into a living area. It was a livestock barn when we bought the house, but it was falling down and we don’t have [farm] animals, so we turned it into a living space.
We moved in and waited two years to start. There was literally just a piece of plywood between my kitchen and the barnroom. That process took about seven, eight months. I took everyone along on that journey via the blog. It was fun, like having your friends along as you renovate.
You’re an antiquer. Any tips on living in an old home and decorating?
It’s easy to be inundated with trends right now. I’m not into trends. Only buy what you love. If you love something it’ll work in your home.
Also, edit, edit, edit. You don’t want a clutter-filled house.