A NEW Jewel – Part One

NEW jewel title rendering

Phil and Rocio with their new Aussie pup named Sherlock.

Phil and Rocio with their new Aussie pup Sherlock.

Thanks, Phil and Rocio. Little did you know how perfect your timing was when you came to us and asked for a “small but perfect home”. Fertile ground indeed, and my mind raced with the many recent thoughts about working on something like a precious gem, or what we’re calling a NEW Jewel.

 

So many of our clients now are building smaller homes because they simply don’t need a bigger one. Seems smart for many reasons: less vacuuming, less heating and cooling, less taxes. And for many, less strain on the finances as we get to the point where retirement shines bright and hopeful.

I’ve closely followed the whole Tiny House thing, and a few of my friends have been drawn to it. There’s plenty about it on the web, but simply put they’re tightly designed and crafted homes of 200-400 square feet, often built on a chassis and wheels. Cool idea, but hard to live in for most, I’d reckon. For the jewel of a home in my own mind, I wanted to start with 1,000 square feet. Enough room for a pleasant common area, a couple of away rooms for bed and work, a couple of bathrooms and yes to a mudroom and pantry. (For Phil and Rocio’s, we ended up with 1,140 square feet.) 

layout new jewel

It would not compromise on design intent, envelope or craft intensity. This is the big benefit of the smaller footprint, of course. By using a pure and simple form for the house volume, a true jewel would have enough money in the budget for the highest quality materials, net-zero levels of insulation, triple pane windows, and a high-efficiency heat pump. Additionally, the doors would be hand crafted, the cabinets solid wood, the finishes exquisite, and craftsmanship shudderingly excellent.

NEW jewel trellis

NEW jewel rendering side pergola

You guys are letting us do all of this. A NEW Jewel in all the senses. I’ll post more as we go, but the foundation is in, and the timber frame raising will take place in Dayton, Oregon around August 25th.

foundation new jewel

Pull Up a Stool – Island Living

Grab a stool and a cutting board, or a plate, or a pencil, or a toothpick, or a tablet, or…?! Welcome to the kitchen island. Food prep, snack counter, breakfast bar, coffee cafe, homework hub, central party point, family communication center—its uses are nearly limitless.

painted and walnut island by newwoodworks

If a kitchen is ‘the heart of the home’, then the island is arguably a home’s centerpiece; imperative at meal times, after school, and during gatherings with friends and family. “I truly enjoy the engagement with and connection most people feel towards this area. I have the most fun working with our clients on their islands. These structures are the ‘sweet spot’.  Looking back on 21 years of this work with New Energy Works, I think islands are often the best part of any job,” said Rob, General Manager and lead designer for NEWwoodworks.

rob island 2

Rob was enjoying a few moments at the island before the Open House of a project we built on Keuka Lake.

As we approach kitchen design, islands are carefully considered, discussed at length, loosely outlined, discussed more, and finalized in detail. “When we have the opportunity to design this area our goal is to bring a thoughtful and logical approach to creating a comfortable, functional, and engaging space incorporating the family’s varied wants and needs,” continued Rob.

A "waterfall" of walnut flows over the bright Ash of the Olsen's kitchen island.

A “waterfall” of walnut flows over the bright Ash of the Olsen’s kitchen island.

How the island will be used is a vital question for homeowners. The square footage of the kitchen and interaction with the rest of the home will influence island location and size. Materials come in to play as an island can offer a change in color and texture or carry an aesthetic through. Large or compact the versatility of the additional space, visual break, and social anchor offered by an island is unmatched.

Central for gathering, food, and when necessary a spot to perch for a great photo op!

The social and food hub – and when necessary an elevated spot for a great photo op or a light bit of tap dancing!

Carrying the oak paneling pattern throughout the kitchen and island was key for this NYC home.

Carrying the oak paneling proportions throughout the kitchen and island was key for this NYC home.

Islands are frequently a literal barrier, dividing the functional space of the kitchen and giving cooks their own main space, but still allowing room for another chef. In very modest footprints they can offer important additional work surface, house extra cabinetry and storage, and take place of a dining table.

Two cooks in the kitchen. Jennifer and Maxine make the most of prep areas in the Vermont Street Project.

Two cooks in the kitchen. Jennifer and Maxine make the most of prep areas in the Vermont Street Project.

The wish list is often broad and varied for how an island will function. Generally, they provide a division of space, particularly in open floor plans. “Working closely with NEWwoodworks we’ve designed islands that are ‘prep only’, ‘service’ oriented, and ‘bar’ islands to name a few generalities. I agree with Rob; in my mind one of the biggest factors is functionality,” explained Andrew of our Design Group. ‘Prep only’ islands typically include a prep sink, butcher block top, and trash/compost bin.

A modest reclaimed Jarrah wood island with a soap stone top and steel sink provides a bit of additional prep space.

A modest Reclaimed Jarrah wood island with a soap stone top and steel sink provides a bit of additional prep space.

HF custom kitchen matt wittmeyer photo

Live edges, butterfly joinery, slate tops, an additional rolling butcher block, and ample counter surfaces afford a growing family space for everyone to participate in kitchen activities.

Others are ‘service’ oriented offering a second oven, cook top, grill, and more. ‘Bar islands’ have been an occasional theme, designed to be an entertainment hub with a bar sink, beverage coolers, and dishwasher drawers.

HF kitchen matt wittmeyer photo

A bar island crafted from reclaimed wood - tops and cabinetry - with shelving from agricultural salvaged timbers.

A bar island crafted from reclaimed wood – tops and cabinetry – with shelving from agricultural salvaged timbers.

We’ve found the service style works well for open kitchens when we can provide the cook with a specific view while they interact with guests, yet maintain a clearly separate workstation.

Good Luck food photo for Rochester Magazine. (Staff Photo by Matt Wittmeyer 051909)

A lake home’s reclaimed beech kitchen affords panoramic views of the water and abundant space for entertaining. Photo by Matt Wittmeyer.

Broad open views of the living spaces are enjoyed from the cook's vantage over the island of this lake home kitchen.

Broad, open views of the living and dining spaces are enjoyed from the cook’s vantage over the island of this lake home kitchen. Reclaimed oak was “toasted” to a darker patina adding a bit of rich color to an otherwise light palette.

Split level islands further differentiate the cooking space from ‘guest’ space. This style allows a bit of camouflaging for dishes, pots/pans, the microwave, dishwasher, and more. It also offers protection for homework, electronics, or any other non-kitchen happenings at the island. We’re believers in “wood where the elbows are” and the split level is often created with this in mind.

Jake demonstrates our belief that there should be “wood where the elbows are” for any kitchen surface where entertaining and eating take place.

Young Jake demonstrates our belief that there should be “wood where the elbows are” for any kitchen surface where entertaining and eating take place.

Wood where the elbows are.

A split level island puts wood where the elbows are using live-edge walnut atop reclaimed “toasted” oak.

remodeled kitchen newwoodworks 2

Rob explained, “The island serves many functions and is used quite differently by folks. I think it is the best part of any kitchen and a wonderful opportunity to get creative.

A painted island with a poured top and industrial stools/brackets adds color and functionality to a modest kitchen.

A painted island with a poured top and industrial stools/brackets adds color and functionality to a modest kitchen.

Are you looking for ideas on how to improve or add island living into your kitchen? Let us know. 

 

Wood where the elbows are: Celebrating the Table.

Dining, meeting, drafting, sewing, displaying—the table is one of our most versatile pieces of furniture. They range in size, use, and style—across cultures and materials. Small functional bedside tables, wide ornate coffee tables, grand formal dining tables: each personal and flexible to nearly any imaginable design.

In this New York home, two wide reclaimed Elm thresher boards were bookended, butterfly joined, and place atop a custom fabricated metal base.

In this New York home, two wide reclaimed Elm thresher boards were bookended, butterfly joined, and placed atop a custom fabricated metal base.

For over two decades our fine woodworking group, NEWwoodworks, has been designing and crafting all varieties of tables, working out nuances and integrating creativity with functionality. Wood is this team’s preferred medium, be it antique reclaimed, live-edge, or newly sawn. Celebrating the beauty of the wood is instinctual with these craftsmen.

Headed for its new life as a bar height community table this creation has intentionally selected planks from original Foundry Maple flooring with a resin pour finish atop a powder coated custom steel base.

Headed for its new life as a bar height community table, this creation has intentionally selected planks from original Foundry Maple flooring with a resin pour finish atop a powder coated custom steel base.

Completed last week, this boat-shaped conference room table has a top crafted from Reclaimed Settlers’ Plank Mixed Hardwoods and a base of what we like to call “Toasted” Oak. Also integrated into the top are three power tilt-ups.

conference table reclaimed hardwoods newwoodworks custom reclaimed hardwoods conference table newwoodworks
Working alongside our Architectural and Interior Designer, Andrew, the NEWwoodworks craftsmen recently made two tables for our showroom remodel. Both are intended to provide additional work surfaces and meeting spaces for clients and co-workers alike.

A modified “waterfall” effect has the reclaimed Tropical Hardwood Mix of one of the tables dripping over the edge towards the floor:

reclaimed exotic hardwoods waterfall table newwoodworks

The original stamps marking the approval of this wood for overseas use via a form of kiln drying.

The original stamps marking the reclaimed exotic hardwoods are pest free.

Not to be missed is the “suspension” table, an idea that has been percolating in the NEWwoodworks group for some time. Crafted of mixed oak with a dark wash stain, the deep wood color draws attention to the metal suspension components:

suspension oak table by newwoodworks

Live-edge tables are always intriguing with their organic edges and truly one-of-a-kind shapes. Several tables designed by Rob, manager of our NEWwoodworks group, celebrate live edges and “x” bases in a Kentucky farmhouse:

The root burl of a large walnut tree was carefully maintained to create a live-edge end on this farmhouse table.

The root burl of a large walnut tree was carefully maintained to create a live-edge end on this farmhouse table.

Similar to the dining table, walnut end tables have one-of-a-kind live-edges in this Kentucky home.

Similar to the dining table, walnut end tables have one-of-a-kind live-edges in this Kentucky home.

Figured cherry maintains a live edge with a low height traditional for coffee tables.

Figured cherry maintains a live edge with a low height traditional for coffee tables.


Reclaimed wood
lends other interesting character marks and hard-earned patinas to any fine woodworking project:

Old French white oak and domestic barrel/vat staves were repurposed into a pier table off the kitchen island, ideally situated for family meals.

Old French white oak and domestic barrel/vat staves were repurposed into a pier table off the kitchen island, ideally situated for family meals.

Incorporating our torsion box design and a mixture of reclaimed hardwoods, Parsons-style tables offer space for patrons of a Florida-based bank:

reclaimed hardwoods box communal tables

In another commercial space, Kindred Fare, a large walnut table with contrasting butterfly joinery and a trestle base (crafted of reclaimed Hemlock) seats 10+:

custom walnut table kindred fare by newwoodworks

An extra large, curving edged Settlers’ Plank reclaimed oak conference table easily seats 20+ as demonstrated by some of the NEWwoodworks team:

nww crew at SP table

As we find with any fine woodworking, so much is in the details. Custom designs are made better with detailed execution and specific attention to each wood plank’s grain and character, to overall dimensions, to what base material and style fits best, to the shape of an apron (or not having an apron at all!), to what joinery is applied, to the finish, and much more.

In the details: A reclaimed beech table with thru-tenon aprons and pyramid pegs.

In the details: A reclaimed beech table with live edge, thru-tenon aprons, and walnut pyramid pegs.

The more challenging and more unique, the better for this team. What table is in your imagination? Let us know – we can help bring it to life.

A well-loved 'timber' table in the NEWwoodworks showroom celebrates live edges and original mortise pockets suspended from heavy Douglas fir timber legs.

A well-loved ‘timber’ table in the NEWwoodworks showroom celebrates live edges and original mortise pockets in its top, all suspended from heavy Douglas fir timber legs.

 

Light yet dark timber in Pine Plains NY

Naked frame photo by Ben Albury Amalgam Studio web

A new home build in Pine Plains, NY offers an example of the design flexibility of heavy timber, showcasing contemporary and minimalistic timber framing.

Designed by Amalgam Studio, each bent is open and airy, blending timber and steel. We crafted the bents using double 4×10’s, sandwiching ½” steel plates at critical locations. Powder-coated steel tension tie-rod connections span the width of the home joining the posts together. They bring structural stability while keeping the frame light.

Timber truss photo by Ben Albury Amalgam Studio web

Prior to assembly, each stick received a custom ‘burned’ finish. Charring the Douglas fir creates a deep color tone and raised grain texture. We’re excited to use this old technique to bring a new twist to traditional materials.

Timber raising photo 2 by Ben Albury Amalgam Studio web

This project is aiming for a few awards and possibly Passive House status. We’ll share more as Black Oak Builders finish out the project.

Timber enclosure photo by Ben Albury Amalgam Studio web

Special thanks to Ben Albury of Amalgam Studio for the great images and raising video.

Harmony on the Hudson: The Olsen’s Timber Home Retreat Story

olsen-interiorTimber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.

The Olsen’s story, and the Welcome Home Series, begins with the land…

Part 1: From Dream to Design
The Olsen’s begin designing their dream home on land they’d been spending vacation time visiting for 10 years. Harmony with the land and the family was a must.
view-from-olsenPart 2: Laying The Groundwork
Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.

groundbreaking-olsenPart 3: Built to Last
Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape.
olsen-raisingPart 4: Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long!
olsen-in-snowPart 5: Lessons Learned
Communication proves vital in the build process for sticking to the plan and modifying.
solar-array-olsenPart 6: Elements of Surprise
Nearing completion, creativity and flexibility lead to modified plans.
olsen-porchPart 7: The Big Finish
Mixed materials, including reclaimed wood, make a statement on the interior and exterior of the Olsen Home.
olsen-custom-cabinetry-reclaimed-floorPart 8: The Great Escape
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout,” says Greg Olsen.
olsen-porch-exteriorolsen-exterior-timber-frame-reclaimed-sidingOur notes:
When Greg and Dee approached us to craft their family’s timber frame retreat we knew it was going to be fun. Their philosophy fit with ours: they wanted to strike a balanced design, a home in harmony with the site that was as environmentally conscious as possible. Eliminating VOCs, incorporating reclaimed and organic materials, and a solar array were “must have” elements. Planning on large family gatherings and lots of cooks in the kitchen, there is ample party space with unobstructed southern views of the Catamount and Butternut Mountains. Screened and covered porches blur the line between interior and exterior spaces.

The resulting home celebrates a variety of reclaimed and storied wood: the timber frame is crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir; flooring is reclaimed Walnut on the upper level and reclaimed Teak on the lower level; wall paneling is reclaimed barn siding; reclaimed beech was used to create custom bed frames, night stands, and built-ins. Much of the cabinetry and built-ins, including the Ash kitchen cabinetry, was made by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks. The kitchen island includes a “waterfall” of walnut as a prep/presentation area while the adjacent dining table seats up to twelve.