An Artful Journey
~ by Maura Jane Rogers
To see through the eyes of Ed and Sheila Strickland is an experience that stands alone. Here are two unique individuals with talents spanning several planes. In the arts, with music, skills in craft; even their dedication to pura vida, the Strickland duo take the appreciation of life to a beautiful level.
In a quaint (yet much like those around it) single family home nestled in Marina Bay, one finds the home of Randolph transplants Ed and Sheila Strickland. In a sliding doors life, the couple met for the first time at the wedding of his cousin and her friend and one year later, they too, were married. Despite the existence of several family friends with long standing relationships, they were unaware of each other until college. Thirty eight years later, they are a complementary pair, evolving through, and with, life together. As you might guess, jobs in the arts in the 70’s were somewhat scarce with the recession of that era and so, with his degree in arts, Ed headed for the family business upon graduation. As owner of a mechanical contracting company, his work focused on piping and plumbing, water filtration and fire prevention, among other tasks. Relentlessly committed to providing top quality service, Ed found himself with commercial-size jobs such as MWRA facilities on Deer Island, Gillette Company in Southie and that Dig they did…what was that one? Oh right, that one. Whatever the assignment, The William F. Collins Company prides itself on superior craftsmanship and skill. That dedication is more than evident in the spillover into Strickland’s home. The arts degree was hardly wasted and is alive and well in that outwardly plainly modest home in Quincy.
The journey begins the moment you cross the threshold. Through the front door and beyond there is an art gallery, nay, museum, nay, wild personal collection of Ed and Sheila Strickland. At first glance, I was struck by the possibility of a Tim Burtonesque guided tour, then I met the curators of what I was about to experience and I understood.
Who knew that tucked in the heart of Marina Bay lay a literal treasure trove and a feast for the senses? It is almost too difficult to put to words what a sensory explosion the home of Ed and Sheila Strickland is. As I set foot upon the mesmerizing floor, I knew that this was a place like no other. A swath of inlay tile into hardwood of 3D laser cut glass and granite composite dared me to look away. It was a challenge as it was beckoning me to transfix upon it. Through the sweeping foyer ceiling were antique wood-framed giant swatches of fabric, likened to a darkened stain glass window belonging in the oldest of chapels in Europe. A den to the left, a dining room to the right and ahead of me laid an orgasmic collection of original art in every medium – paint, glass, sculpture, iron, marble, tile, ceramic, steel, papier mache, pencil, canvas, brass, copper, silk, concrete and even horsehair.
The depth and breadth of the appreciation for all things art in the eyes of Ed and Sheila Strickland are phenomenal. What makes the house so special is not just the beauty that is all around, but the pieces of art that are Strickland originals. Here is where the worlds of craftsman intertwine. His creativity abounds but the craftsmanship is second to none. From room to room, every inch of crown molding, wainscoting, window boxes and more holds his signature. Scattered throughout are rehabilitated, rebuilt and remodeled credenzas, side tables, bookcases, bureaus, chairs, tuffets, ottomans, and stools of an innumerable amount. There have been collaborators within several rooms in the house but it is the strict adherence to the wonderful spice of life, that of variety, which is prevalent throughout. Be it the Mackenzie Childs abundance of artfiture, because a Mackenzie Childs is neither art nor furniture, it is the spectacular meshing of both, or the Joseph Marguiles bronze or even the deceptive trompe l’oeil by Eric Conklin, there is something for everyone.
It would appear that the savvy couple ran out of room for stamps on their passport from the internationally eclectic collection adorning their space. Wire caging from gargantuan windows from a house in Egypt, Portuguese pottery, Murano glass, a carousel horse from Copenhagen, to say nothing of the Diva Closet which is a perfect homage to Paris and all things fashion. Despite the international flavor, these are all things acquired stateside by this very discerning couple. In every room, old meets new. And sometimes it is the old which is the most graceful and breath-taking. With Ed’s craftsmanship and the couple’s décor selection, the residence is bursting with beauty and whimsy. With every turn, the eye alights upon things which are strategically placed so as to please the beholder. I began to wonder how can there be room for anything else. From stage left enters the interior design-build firm Roomscapes, designed by, Cameron M. Snyder, CKD, founder of Roomscapes Luxury Design Center without the ingenuity of which there could be chaos.
Sheila provides every meal every day for her father, who lives just six doors down. Apparently the food is just as beautiful as the kitchen it is prepared in and, if that rumor is true, she’s bound to be the next Iron Chef or Gordon Ramsay apprentice. With multiple levels of crown molding to allow for hideaways in every nook and cranny, double refrigerators, tucked-in counter level cabinets for Cuisinart and KitchenAid, at first glance it appears to be a kitchen with one appliance (a Miele Master Chef double oven). Start opening those cabinets and you’ll find a slideaway and hideaway for everything from ice cream to paprika to plain old trash. Roomscapes, Inc. transforms spaces into places you never want to leave. In the master bath what appears to be a lifted window loveseat four pillows deep, is really the tub. In the laundry room, the idea of dragging out the step ladder for the 12 foot ceiling cabinets is unheard of – simply open the door, grab the bottom rung and pull the shelves down to you. The Diva Closet is a wonder in and of itself. Imelda Marcos would do well to take a lesson from Sheila Strickland and everyone can take a lesson from Roomscapes to figure out how best to house those beautiful kicks.
At the end of the day, every bit of space, whether it is the fitness room with expert finish work, the music studio with Ed’s partial guitar collection (the other half is stunningly displayed in the glass front cabinets in the den, his current passion), the carpenter’s machine shop, the mechanical engineer’s office, the Chef’s ‘studio’ (with floor to ceiling bookcase of cookbooks), the dining room (where the contemporary craft piece reminiscent of a Chinese gong must come in handy when rounding up the troops), the den (plinking away on the mandolin while lounging in the high back Mackenzie Childs), every bit of space, and I mean every. bit. of. space., is dedicated to honoring art and life. That’s a journey I can appreciate.