105 Normal Street

105 Normal Street

When Dian Love first walked into this diminutive 1860 house in 2003 she immediately noticed that she could see all the way through it from the front to the back door. “It had one common lane,” says Love. A retired professor of interior design who has taught at U-M, EMU, and the Rhode Island School of Design, Love had always wanted a house with white walls in the Greek Revival style.

Love bought the 878-square-foot house and immediately set about making it into her home. The front porch was in a shambles and the exterior needed fresh paint. After she took care of those problems, Love changed the inside from a two-bedroom into a one-bedroom house, redid the bathroom, and had all the walls painted white. She took out interior doors and framed the openings. The space across the front of the house functions as her living area to the right of the entryway and her office to the left. The narrow kitchen at the back is an earlier addition. A search at the U-M Bentley Historical Library turned up two owners, one in the late nineteenth century and the other in the early twentieth, who lived in the house with a boarder (presumably long before the addition). This offers inhabitants of the twenty-first century insights into the different space requirements of those who lived in previous centuries.

Love’s tiny house is full of her amazing stuff: paintings she describes as “Rhode Island signed pieces”; framed fragments of Chinese, Peruvian, and Egyptian textiles from the second and third centuries; Chinese export porcelain pieces from the late 1800s; and much more.

The small house extends dramatically in nice weather into the spacious backyard, where Love has created a blue garden inspired by French and British ones she has admired. The garden is what tourgoers will see when they look through the house from the front door to the back.