The Repurposed Home, Part 1

by M. Diane McCormick

Sara Rose Bryant and Misha Kaschock: Making Magic

Sara Rose Bryant and Misha Kaschock were happy to find that the home they’d been eyeing came with a basement. For these collectors and repurposers, storage was an essential.

“You’re not quite sure what that thing is and how it’s going to turn out,” says Bryant. “You need someplace to store it until that perfect moment arises when you want to turn it into a lamp.”

Bryant and Kaschock are a busy young couple. They co-own Yoga Nature, the Linglestown Road studio. He’s also a carpenter devoted to reclaiming and transforming discarded and found materials. Their generation wants to “be a little lighter on the environment,” says Bryant.

“We want to make what we have work, as opposed to going out and buying more and more and more,” she says.

Their early 20th-Century home in Harrisburg’s Riverside neighborhood, which they bought in 2014, is a repurposing showcase. A large first-floor closet became a bathroom, with a repainted thrift-store light fixture and beautifully rustic counters Kaschock refashioned from wood found in a friend’s garden.

Bryant indulges her passion for baskets by making them do double duty. In the kitchen, an ornate thrift-store find holds potatoes. A picnic basket contains some of the medicinal herbs that Bryant collects by foraging city riverbanks and yards. In the living room, a lidded South Carolina sweetgrass basket, woven in traditional methods, holds massage equipment.

“We’re looking for ways to take care of ourselves and store them in pretty things,” Bryant says.

Old jars and pottery serve multiple purposes. A clear glass jar from Bryant’s medicinal-jar collection replaced the broken globe of a cleanly curving brass floor lamp. A funky 1970s soup mug is a planter. The broken neck from a cherished vase that belonged to Bryant’s mother got new, ornamental life when Kaschock stuck it in the dirt of a potted plant.

“It broke, and I was devastated,” says Bryant. “My parents are gone, and you get attached to these little things. Instead of throwing stuff away, put it in a plant. Create a little scene.”

Furnishings emerge from the marriage of disparate pieces. The living room needed a coffee table. Someone found a round table top without legs. Bryant had traveled from her hometown of Seattle with her mother’s suitcase, a vintage classic. They put the two together, suitcase as base. Friend and roommate, artist Michael Rioux, etched a wolf on the table top, which lifts easily to access Bryant’s art supplies tucked into the suitcase.

Very little goes without repurposing here. Graceful willow branches blend into the décor because they’re given purpose, displaying dream catchers or serving as a backdrop for a tableau of owl figurines. A tree-trunk slab that broke into pieces could have been discarded, but Kaschock saved it as a puzzle that delights their nephews and niece when they visit.

“Things can be magical,” says Bryant, “if you decide to make them magical.”