Blacksmith Jeff Fetty’s home is a work of heart.
written by DONNA HERTO
photographed by RICK LEE
Blacksmith and metalworking artist Jeff Fetty feels fortunate to live, work, play, and create in his dream home on Chestnut Ridge overlooking Spencer. “One of my mentors told me years ago that, if you’re going to be an artist, you have to live the life of an artist by surrounding yourself with beautiful architecture, music, scenery, and books that provide inspiration,” says Fetty. “I took that seriously, and it’s worked out well for me.”
A lifelong Spencer resident, Fetty has traveled to meet blacksmiths around the globe, yet says that nowhere else could he have accomplished what he has in the town where he was born and raised. It’s here he finds his aesthetic and inspiration, with a network of people willing to collaborate, befriend, and help one another thrive.
Ten years ago, he and his bride of 50 years, Charlotte, set out to build their dream home on a ridgetop overlooking his favorite place on Earth. In the decades prior, the couple had committed to one another that their someday home would be imaginative and innovative in how it would come to be.
“When your budget forces you to be frugal and resourceful, that leads to and feeds creativity,” he says. “Charlotte has been an equal partner with me for my entire career. This home is one of our many shared connections.”
Containing doors from old homes, windows from a closed factory, and joists from a demolished building, the home they’ve designed and built together uses upcycled materials sourced affordably and locally. It’s a home of 1,000 square feet plus a loft. There’s a pitched ceiling in the great room and an expansive patio. The one-bedroom, two bathroom structure has kitchens indoors, outdoors, and just a few dozen steps away in Fetty’s blacksmith shop. It has a new garage and a cut flagstone pathway.
“The home is always evolving,” says Fetty. “We’ve had the luxury of building the house slowly, which has really helped us get it right. And I can’t understate the inspirational importance of being next door to my workshop and forge. My walking commute is surrounded by our flowers, gardens, rocks, and memories. I can see Spencer off to the northeast. And this home is filled with art from West Virginia artists like Charly Hamilton and Paula Clendenin. It’s been a collaboration with friends and colleagues like architect Michael Corlis of Elk River Designs and furniture maker Jim Probst. And it represents a lot of what I’ve done as an artist.”
Fetty chronicles the cutout transoms—steel remnants left over from a commissioned project—tucked above doorways, which allow sunlight to create a slideshow of birds and fish that dance about the home throughout the day. He reveals a ship’s ladder made of steel that leads to the loft. He details the lighted patio railing he constructed of recycled gas pipe. Large lights fabricated in his shop welcome guests at an outside door. The home incorporates lamps, lights, bookcases, wrought iron furniture, and steel pieces he’s forged himself.
“This home is a special place,” Fetty concludes. “It’s a collaboration of creativity that embodies my cherished relationships and life’s work as a blacksmith, and it’s worked out better than I ever imagined.”