Cottage Life: High Craft, Low Impact

The owners of this timber frame lakeside retreat enjoyed the original lake farmhouse on the site for many years. When it became apparent that their beloved lake house had outlived its use, they made the bittersweet decision to deconstruct it in favor of a new home.

The land, the lake, and home’s impact there was a driving force in the design. Our design team started with respecting the local vernacular and maintaining existing trees and then included advanced enclosure and mechanical systems, FSC-certified® and reclaimed wood flooring and siding, roofing made of recycled wood fiber and rubber, and a geothermal heat system—all resulting in energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

In keeping with local vernacular, the road side facia of this cottage home is modest and welcoming.

From the road, the home is quaint and charming, modest in scale much like the neighboring cottages and the original home. The garage and parking area are accessible via a sloping drive, resting a level above the lake shore, neatly tucked away from the passerby on the lake road above while allowing a closer entry point to the home–especially appreciated after a grocery run. Entering from the road places one at an open sitting area and staircase. Sometimes referred to as an “upside down” design, this road level has guest bedrooms and bath as well as the master suite. A gently curving staircase funnels those entering at the street level downwards to the public shared spaces.

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It’s About the Journey. Stairs: furniture that flows.

Transitioning from public to private space, from one level to another, from inside to outside: the staircase. We enjoy the creativity that can be expressed in the functional and essential staircase. Stairs are like furniture that flows, curving, lifting, descending; solid, floating, short, or lengthy…and always dependable.

Our fine woodworkers and our designers think of stairs as sculptural and architectural elements. Often a focal point in the home the options for customization are many. Materials, shape, location, and integration with the frame.

The stairs play a large design element and integration with the frame in this NJ home.

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High Efficiency Enclosure: A Prefabricated Wall System

Project enclosure systems are one of the biggest areas to benefit from high-performance building techniques, and there are several options: SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and our Matrix & Matrix-S Wall system, to name a few. As we push for better envelopes and efficiencies with every project, we’re applying decades of experience in creating turnkey timber frame structures to crafting prefabricated wall systems.

“When you buy a car, no one shows up at your house with all the parts and builds your new car in your driveway, right? So why build walls on-site?” asked Eric, our Timber Frame General Manager.

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Circle in a Square

The broad stroke design of this home harkens to sap houses and agricultural structures of the Northeast and the flare of mountain homes for a balance of rugged and modern aesthetics. Forms evoke the traditional, such as the clerestory and the cylindrical stair tower but are tempered within via the non-traditional great room space and helical, modern stairs.

Transom windows express the Northeast vibe but are combined with big expanses of glass reminiscent of western mountain homes.

“Often I find the most beautiful designs are when you can see the function of a structure. I enjoy thinking of a balance of the purpose of a structure and function, and how the builders achieve that goal,” shared Shannon, homeowner of the Circle in a Square project. “I enjoy seeing the inner workings of things. That’s why I love timber frame structures. Take a home and its many reasons for being; there is an endless way of accomplishing the goal. You need a roof and walls and other parts and ways for them to be held up and attached. The timber frame is probably one of the most unique ways of showing how that can be done.”

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Picking the Right Timber Framer

Author, Jonathan Orpin: founder and president of New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks; board member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild, enjoys some time on the water.

From Jonathan:

For years I’ve resisted writing this post. It can come off as very self-serving. Please don’t let it. Instead, I’ll attempt to be as neutral-valued as I can, and share some of my 30-year history, and perhaps just a tad of the experiences, and sometimes frustrating stories, our clients have shared…and some that I have witnessed.

The timber frame industry has a great many good people in it, associated with it, and as I’ve often said, many of the coolest clients I can imagine. So first, think about a timber framer who is involved with the Timber Framers Guild. At our Guild conferences and our meet-ups, in the committee work we do, in the publications we create, two important things occur: we learn, and are better professionals because of it; we share, and our craft is better for it. In both cases you win.

Photo courtesy of the Timber Framers Guild.

And when you ask, “Is your company a member?” be sure to dig just bit deeper. Do you attend the conferences? Do you send your shop folk and your designers? Do you give, as well as receive?

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