This old house

Steve Bartlett
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Fogo Island homes being restored

The master bedroom of the Wells house.

The pink porch is different, but gives off generous warmth and prompts a feeling of nostalgia.

There are other powerful colours in the 150-year-old home in Joe Batt's Arm: different shades of green, an aqua and a red.

Elisabet Gunnarsdottir explains the pink.

"It was a colour (fishermen) liked because they associated it with fishing and food," she says.

The house is one of four that have been restored by the Fogo Island Arts Corp. with support of the Shorefast Foundation.

There'll be eight or 10 scattered around Fogo Island when all is said and done.

Artists taking part in a residency program will stay in the homes for three months.

The idea is for the artists to live in a community and get to know residents.

Gunnarsdottir says the arts corporation is trying to restore the homes to their original condition, or at least as close to it as possible.

"We scraped down the paint," she says. "There were several layers of wall paper, of course, and several layers of paint. So we recorded all the colours and we took the oldest colours we found and used them here."

Besides the paint, all hardwoods have been exposed, adding to the rustic vibe of the home.

Zita Cobb of the Shorefast Foundation points out that Gunnarsdottir has a gift for finding that vibe.

"She's talented," Cobb says. "I swear to God she goes in and talks to the house and gets it to tell her its secrets, and then it comes back to life in the way it was. They are magical houses to be in." Twitter: bartlett_steve

Organizations: Shorefast Foundation, Fogo Island Arts

Geographic location: Fogo Island

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