By Wayne E. Rivet
FRYEBURG — Like many young couples, Cody and Hannah Guilford decided to stop tossing money away for on a rent, and instead, invested in a fixer-upper.
They bought a home in 2016 that needed of some tender-loving care and renovation. That move lead the couple down an unexpected path. They discovered a “new found love” for home renovation, construction and interior design.
In 2018, the Guilfords sold their first house, and have since invested in a home built for themselves while searching for the next home they can put some heart, and hard work in to.
“Through this whole journey, they realized their potential to help others make their homes and living spaces somewhere fresh, new, and finished, and have begun marketing their abilities to transform a space.”
Cody’s carpentry skills and Hannah’s flare for interior design ultimately lead to the creation of Heart and Hammer Homes in Fryeburg. Recently, Hannah was recognized as one of the “outstanding young professionals” in National Kitchen & Bath Association’s “Thirty Under 30 Class of 2022.” NKBA is a nonprofit trade group that promotes professionalism in the kitchen and bath industry.
The award is given to 30 different young professionals across the nation and Canada for “resilient and forward-thinking individuals in the kitchen and bath industry that are viewed as the future of the industry.”
As an honoree, Hannah went on an all-expense paid trip to Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, the largest trade show worldwide for the industry, where she picked up her prestigious award for “Universal Design/Living in Place.”
Featured on the NKBA website, Hannah said, “To design for a client is not much different than polishing stone to create a counter, for the roots of the design are already planted,” she says. “I just need to urge them which direction to grow.”
The News posted the following questions in a One on Oneinterview with Hannah Guilford.
BN. How did you get your start in kitchen and bath design?
Hannah G. My husband and I had bought our first home when we were 20 and it was a fixer upper. We both had always had a passion for fixing stuff up and making it more functional and pretty, but this was our start in the industry. This transformation inspired us to leave our current jobs, turning our passion for fixing up our home into a career. We proceeded to purchase land and build a new construction home, this was a great chance for us to flex our design and carpentry skills and share them on social media, and was the start of establishing the style and skills that we offer here at Heart and Hammer Homes.
BN. What’s behind the business name, Heart and Hammer?
Hannan G. When Cody and I were building our first new construction home after having just flipped that first house, we were temporarily living in a cabin on my parents’ property. One day, cuddled around the woodstove, I asked Cody what we should name this new company we were starting. We kept coming up with fairly generic names such as Guilford Remodeling, but we didn’t feel as though any of them captured the essence of who we were. I spent hours researching company names, hoping to get inspiration, and it felt like everything was used up. Out of nowhere, I shouted at Cody, Heart and Hammer! He said, ‘No, I don’t like it, it sounds like an HGTV show.’ This started an argument because I knew inside this was it. I dragged him outside to the foundation of our home, where I picked up a hammer, handed him a chunk of ice I had found shaped like a heart, and made him take an obligatory first company photo with me. Once he realized, I’m the hammer and he’s the heart, he agreed, the name was perfect. When we took the photo, he swapped out who held the hammer, because he thought that the carpenter should really be the one wielding the tools. In reality, Heart and Hammer Homes name is really a representation of what we plan is to provide to our clients, we put the heart back in the home (and the kitchen is the heart of the home) one hammer at a time.
BN. How do you approach designing a new kitchen or bath?
Hannah G. When designing a new kitchen or bath, my process starts with trying to figure out what feeling am I trying to capture, or what element am I trying to feature. Once I figure that out, the rest all kind of falls into place. As an example, am I trying to capture the mountain views and greenery? Or am I trying to capture the warm and inviting feeling of an early 1900s colonial home, with fresh baked bread in the wood cook stove?
BN. What are the most challenging aspects in trying to develop a design that “pops” for the customer?
Hannah G. The most challenging aspect in trying to develop a design that “pops” for a client is really helping them to see my vision. Most of my customers come to me because they can’t visualize something, and it’s my job to create that vision for them. Sometimes, my ideas are so outside of the box that it’s hard to explain or draw out, but in the end, I’ve never designed a space someone has complained about.
BN. Give me an example of one of your most difficult/challenging projects and how it unfolded?
Hannah G. We had a difficult kitchen in Bridgton, where it seemed like every wall we opened, there was some hidden surprise of faulty carpentry, wiring, or plumbing. These surprises are hard because since they are hidden in the walls you can never really estimate how much they will affect a budget or a design until you open up the wall and discover them. We had already proposed a price based on a certain level of unforeseen factors, however, we had no idea they would be this great. That type of conversation is the hardest conversation I can have with a client, but at the end of the day it’s the clear communication and ability to adapt that helped the rest of the project to continue without a hitch.
BN. Give me an example of a project you are most proud of.
Hannah G. A project that I am most proud of would be the basement remodel that I accomplished last summer, because it was the first time I pitched a color vision to a client that was a little outside of the box, and they went with my instincts, and it was published in a magazine after. If I’m being honest though, the projects that I am most proud of are actually the ones that I have in the works right now. I have recently been able to showcase my skill enough that I feel as though I am starting to work my way into a higher tier of clients who give me full creative reign in their spaces, and I’m now able to go from designing within the small scope of ideas they allow me to design within, to designing everything myself with full reign. Once I hit this point, it’s like the cap that was placed on my creativity popped off and some of my best work is starting to come out.
BN. How was business during the pandemic? Did people continue with planned projects? Did you have to make changes in your business practices?
Hannah G. Business during the pandemic has been absolutely amazing, and I feel so grateful to say that we are flourishing. Now, more than ever, people are spending time at home and in the spaces that have the most impact on their lives, the kitchen. With that influx in time spent at home, people are realizing how important it is to make that space the most functional, comfortable, and pleasing on the eye that they can, because this is where they work from home, where they host family, where memories are made.
BN. Regarding the award, how did that come about and what was your reaction to the selection?
Hannah G. The National Kitchen and Bath Association sends out an e-mail once a year inviting showrooms across the nation and Canada to volunteer a young professional (Under 30) that they think has made a major mark on the Kitchen and Bath industry, and is a prime example of innovation and success for the future. My company, along with many who received this e-mail, and my husband nominated me. He had to fill out a long application explaining why he and our staff believe that I am a leading example of the future of the kitchen and bath business, and I was so lucky to be selected as one of the 30s out of over 500 applications.
BN. Finally, you mention a passion for flipping houses. When and how did that start? What do you enjoy about it? How many have you done?
Hannah G. Flipping houses all started with that purchase of our first house. We lived there for three years, sold it and built another with the profit, which we then sold and are now building our “dream” home. Somewhere in between all that, we remodeled over 100 homes and spaces, purchased another home to flip with an investor, flipped it, and are now restoring a historic home in Lovell. Follow its journey on Instagram at @restoring_218_main.
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