Need more information? Call us at (603) 654-3210

The Robins Harrisville

When David and Jean Robins first met, one thing they found they had in common was that they each hoped to build their own home one day.

“We both had this dream of building a little house in the woods,” Jean recalled.

That was about 45 years and more than 1,000 miles ago – they met in Illinois – but among all the other things they’ve accomplished in their decades together is the house they built in Harrisville, NH, in 2014.

They weren’t working on house plans that whole time, though! Jean taught school until 2018, when she retired, and David retired as a Unitarian minister in 2014. As those life transitions came closer, with the children on their own and jobs about to be passed on to others, the two revisited their early dreams.


Once the Robinses moved to New Hampshire, their New England architecture lessons began. The midwestern styles they were used to, including the iconic Craftsman-style home, were less prevalent in this land of Colonials and Capes. There were few homes of the familiar brick-and-stucco construction, and so many more of the stick-built, vinyl-sided varieties.

They’d never heard of timber frame construction until they got to know our Paul Freeman; Jean and Paul sang in a local choir together and got to chatting.

“I was finally learning some New England history and understanding the roots of this region and the traditional building styles,” Jean said, “and it felt really nice to imagine being part of that.”

At that time, Jean and David owned a house that wasn’t a good long-term fit, but they still needed to figure out what would be.

“I loved the idea of being surrounded by wood,” said Jean. “The more I got to know timber frames, the more I liked just natural wood being part of our environment every day, above, around, below us.”

The couple also liked the ecological benefits of sustainable forestry and simply having a tight house (courtesy of the SIP panels that make up the walls and roof). It wasn’t just the environmental savings they were looking for, but also the comfort. “We’d spent years living in drafty old houses.”

David worked for a while on a plan outline, he recalled during a conversation with Paul recently. “Then you said you’d just built a house in Vermont and showed us the plans, and those ended up being the plans we chose.”

That isn’t to say Jean and David didn’t make the house their own. The full bath off their study replaced the original mudroom and connector to an attached garage. Their site and the view of the forest and mountains from that corner meant they chose a detached garage, instead, and eliminated the mudroom. That first-floor bathroom means they can stay on in their dream home even if someone starts to have difficulty with stairs. They also used some of that recovered space to create one of the more unique parts of the house – a breakfast nook.

“I didn’t get it at first, but it’s so cool! It’s like going to your own private diner,” Paul said about the booth-style design. “It’s unique, they made it their own.”

Jean said it was a way to bring some of their architectural roots with them – the breakfast nook was very popular in the 1920s and 30s when a lot of their home-state’s houses were built.

And then there were other decisions to be made.

“First, we had to find land, and that was difficult because it was so expensive,” David said. “Finally, we looked at this and really liked it, and liked the neighbors and pretty much bought it right away.”

The 2-acre lot was sloped and tree covered, but Phil Brooks cast his expert eye over it and helped determine how the house should be situated. The location offers views from several rooms of the huge, gnarled fruit trees in their ancient orchard – a major selling point of the land.

Then, the finishes. “The amount of decision-making that goes into a house – I had no clue,” said Jean. “I like to take time with my decisions, but if I’d have done that we’d never be in this house.”

That’s where builder Ron Bosquet came in. He’s put up a number of Brooks buildings and has a process to help streamline those decisions, acting as a conductor to make sure they are made in time to order materials and get the work done.

A “paint whisperer” from Benjamin Moore came to help with color decisions, which, along with period light fixtures, were very important to Jean and David. The subtle but carefully selected colors seem to blend “effortlessly,” after all that effort! The kitchen countertop choice was even harder – David jokes that it could’ve ended the marriage – but they’re both happy with the gold- and earth-toned granite today. Floors were from Divine Flooring, and a kitchen designer from Milford Lumber helped mediate that countertop decision.

Still, after all of those details were managed, and after the site work for the house started in March of 2014, the couple was able to move in that November – finishing under budget.


At 2,026 square feet this isn’t a large home, but somehow there are so many places here to just – be. Jean and David eat their breakfast nestled in the nook off the kitchen, and there, awash in sunlight, they stay after the morning meal to read the day’s news.

David might move on to his study as Jean takes on a project in the upstairs Loom Room – which is exactly what it sounds like, but is also a space to work on other creative projects.

Chasing daylight with cups of tea, the pair say they often meet back up on the sofa in the guest room to enjoy the view of the back yard and woods late in the afternoon.

And David, who has made it a project of sorts to grow his cooking skills, can either enlist Jean to assist or get started on the evening’s meal while she finishes a weaving project. (The large kitchen island is home to a secondary sink – a feature Jean once thought was overkill, now appreciates the additional workspace it helped create.)

The wide-open first-floor plan, which so often attracts buyers to timber frame homes, also means lots of room to be together as a couple or with a book club or family party. The warmth of the woodstove is free to radiate from the living and dining rooms through to the kitchen and even the study, finding its way upstairs.

The downside of all that openness can be a dearth of internal walls – so Paul asked the Robinses during the design process if they had any furniture that needed to fit along a wall. The result? Only when it’s pointed out do you notice that wall space was strategically and minimally added to fit a favorite buffet in the dining room and an upright piano in the living room! Because the chimney was built onto the outside of the house, Paul also added two posts to a living room wall to help create an attractive frame with a mantel over the woodstove. You don’t miss the chimney at all!

The first-floor study with its adjacent full bath, the Robinses know, can easily become their primary bedroom if and when the need arises. But for now, their bedroom, the Loom Room, the guest room, and a full bath were created by playing a little with the original plan for the second floor; the central bathroom was relocated to allow for a walk-in closet and laundry area under the dormer.

A timber frame, screened porch was added off the dining room in 2019, and offers views of their beloved woods and the orchard.

The Harrisville in … Harrisville!

Builder: Ron Bosquet
Photo Gallery
The Harrisville Floor Plans