Our client, a family of five from New York City, came to us to convert a conventional shingle and sheetrock house built in the 1980s into a “country house” integrated into the landscape and open to the natural world.
Our aim was to create a house that was timeless, both in its style and its materials – that would age with grace without having to be further renovated in the future. And we wanted to challenge the idea that sustainable houses cannot be luxurious, by demonstrating that luxury can include not only the latest appliances and furniture by cutting-edge designers, but also materials with their own history and a variety of inviting textures.
To achieve this, we brought in an antique barn frame that was threatened by demolition. This barn frame became the main living area and is joined to the existing house by the kitchen, a glass and steel structure. The interiors use a simple palette of just a few repeated materials – concrete, reclaimed wood, patinated steel and limestone. The resulting house contrasts raw with machined elements and vernacular with modern. Ironically, the “new” barn structure appears, and in a sense is, much older, while the existing house structure looks newer, commenting on the conflicting ideas about authenticity that characterize our culture.