It was the presence of a lovely pond that sold architect Kyle Page on twenty undeveloped Catskills acres on which to build a weekend house for his young family. “Twenty private acres balances well against the size of the space we live in in the city,” a 12-foot-wide row house in Clinton Hill, said Page, the founding principal of Sundial Studios, a boutique architecture firm based in Dumbo.
In crafting the “terrifically organized, very efficient” 1,080-square-foot cabin, Page called upon his experience designing his family’s tight urban living space and those of other clients. “I kept it simple for both aesthetic and cost reasons,” said the architect, “working within a tool kit of conventional stick framing.”
Using no steel at all, but a basic materials palette of SPF (spruce pine fir) lumber, Corten steel paneling for a standing-seam roof and exterior siding, blackened cedar and exposed concrete, Page created a basic gabled form for the pondside setting, with a flat-roofed extension over the entryway.
Page “cashed in every single favor” from vendors, consulting engineers and others in the building trades, to keep the cost of the project down to about $450,000, which he estimates would be “more realistically $600,000 if someone else was doing it.”
Minimizing the size of three bedrooms, two baths and a corridor, and tucking those away to the north, Page gave over the main volume to an open living, dining and kitchen space.
Many of the furnishings were designed by the architect and fabricated from wood found on the site.
The white Sheetrock of the interior continues out to a south-facing covered gable with large sliding doors that overlooks the pond, providing ringside seats for dramatic thunderstorms, moonlight on the water and the changing seasons.
Windows get progressively larger toward the gabled end of the building, whose overhang provides shade in summer, protection in rainy weather and is angled to allow sunlight to penetrate in winter.
Page used weathering Corten steel, normally a roofing material, for exterior walls as well.
A flat-roofed extension at the entry, clad in ebonized cedar, contains mechanicals, a carport and a mudroom.
A ladder beyond the mudroom leads to a sleeping loft for overnight guests.
Kitchen cabinets made of IKEA boxes with semi-custom fronts from Reform fill a corner of the loft-like public space. The black backsplash is handmade tile from Heath Ceramics.
Page designed the dining table and benches using maple found at the site.
The commodious sofas are from Interior Define. A wood stove from Wittus stands in front of sliding glass doors that form the southern wall of the building.
Stools for seating and children’s play were crafted of fallen ash trees.
Two layers of beams as seen from the sleeping loft — rafters of two-by-eight-inch lumber and collar ties of two-by-six-inches — are both functional and decorative in the upper part of the cathedral ceiling.
Built-in wardrobes with both drawers and hanging storage enabled minimally sized bedrooms. Even the master is only eight-by-11 feet.
[Photos by Bjorg Magnea]
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