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. 

 

Growing Up: Creating Volume in a Small Footprint

While site constraints are common with any project, this particular building site on Otsego Lake demanded that any new structure fit within the previous camp’s footprint – no larger, no change in orientation, no closer to the shore. However, there was opportunity to play with the height of a new project and always room for thoughtful use of space.

building sectionThe Southeast side of Ostego Lake is forever wild. The Northeast is home to a state park, the Western side is a large, privately owned estate. Thanks to good timing several years back, the client purchased this site with an existing three-season camp, on the Northwestern end of the lake. Removal of the old three-season camp revealed a tight 24′ x 31′ footprint.

sat view site otsego lake

Our design team began the journey to ‘grow up’ on the site by understanding the desires and needs of the client—a father looking to create a four-season, multi-generational family get-away. A sleek mountain-lake aesthetic provided the starting point for a taller, multi-level cottage design. With the lake as a major focal point, contemporary, horizontally mulled rectangular windows were combined with non-mulled square windows for ample views and abundant natural light. A split shed roof will allow the project to stay within height restrictions while creating a clerestory to bring southern light into the upper-level bedroom spaces. “I really like the simplicity and functionality of the split shed roof and I’m excited to see it come to life,” said Pete, lead Architect on this project.

clerestory timber frame small lake home

“We knew making the most of the site would likely result in a very “flat” exterior aesthetic. To add dimension we’re incorporating a combination of vertical and horizontal siding in a mixture of materials along with varying the depth of the roof overhangs,” continued Pete.

main level floorplan timber frame otsego lake

The design suggests setting the project further down into the site to provide parking access at the roadside, rather than lakeside as the camp had previously been oriented. This will provide more “green space” on the lake side of the site, however, it creates an interesting entry point that is situated ‘between’ the main and upper levels. The entrance includes a larger landing with a bench and connections to two staircases: one that leads down to the main level commons and another that proceeds upwards to the bedrooms.

timber frame entry lake otsego home

Timber runs from the ground level up, enabling the creation of visual breaks throughout the project’s open spaces with strategically placed structural timber frame posts and beams. Overall the design plays out to 2,000 sq ft with bedrooms, including a master with private balcony, on the upper level, main living on the mid-level, and a guest suite plus lake access from the lower level. Pete and team are continuing to finalize this design, adjusting to meet both client and additional zoning requirements. We can’t wait to see the home as it comes to fruition. Tell us about your dream timber frame.

A Family Retreat on Canandaigua Lake: Designing Spaces

When we last visited Dan & Laurie’s project on Canandaigua Lake, Pete, one of our design group architects and the design leader for the home, walked us through the site planning. I nabbed Pete again, this time to take a look inside the project at the design considerations for creating the layout and formal floor plans.

Lakeside Family RetreatJust like last time, Pete made a quick inquiry about little orange fish crackers. I had to let him down softly; I had nothing. Looking disappointed for a beat, he moved on reminding me that Dan & Laurie’s site overlooked the lake and came with strict site constraints (not uncommon to building near water) including height restrictions, erosion/sediment concerns, setbacks, and more. He explained that the constraints drove the overall siting of the house and garage, but there were still the interior spaces (and floor plan) to negotiate.

“Dan and Laurie’s project is meant to be a multi-generational home that will act as a central gathering spot for family and friends. Overall the home has an open floor plan with the public spaces centralized on both the main and lower levels which can easily accommodate larger gatherings. Balancing that are private spaces on the ends of the home which allow folks the opportunity to enjoy their quiet space or step inwards to join the party.”

Canandaigua lake home timber frame hybrid floor plan

I was curious about what techniques are used to create a division of space in open floor plans, particularly when the same flooring flows throughout the level. “Great question—we like to make psychological breaks to take the place of walls in open floor plans. Although this project is a hybrid using timber frame and traditional construction, the public spaces fall under the core timber frame. We used the main carrying beams, a bigger timber, to bring visual and physical weight and delineate the great room, kitchen, and dining areas. The great room is also vaulted while the dining and kitchen spaces have flat ceilings. The kitchen island provides a further break between food preparation zones and the dining room,” Pete explained.

timber frame kitchen and great room new energy works

“One less common trait in this home is a single point of entry from the garage and parking areas. Without a dedicated breezeway or mudroom, the goal was to welcome visitors and inhabitants through a cleaner entryway in a style more traditional to guest-only entryways. We designed a lower volume with a flat ceiling softened by lifted timber common rafters, which draw the eye through the entry space to the great room and expanse of windows beyond. There is still a need for organizational spaces…a place to take off shoes, a laundry room…We “hid” these just off the entryway, branching to the right beyond a wing wall and screened behind a pocket door,” continued Pete.

canandaigua timber home new energy works entry

View of the entry door.

entry to canandaigua hybrid timber home

View from the entry.

Given the location of the home, I wanted to know about the views. “Below the curved bottom chord king post trusses, glass wraps the frame at close to ninety-degree angles. You can see through the corners resulting in a nearly 180-degree view of the lake. It’s pretty neat,” Pete obliged.

How about solar heat gain? “Always a consideration,” Pete agreed. “There is morning sun only because the room faces Southeast over the lake. Other windows throughout the home are covered by large overhangs and exterior roofs, so the gain won’t be significant there.”

interior canandaigua lake great room timber frame new energy works

“Oh, also about exterior decks and views—we aim to keep them from wrapping the great room because views are more enjoyable when uninterrupted. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like a piecemeal view broken by slats of a deck railing.”

I recalled that in our previous conversation Pete had stressed a desire to have the house set into the land, as part of the land, rather than perched on it. I asked how that impacted the interior light in the lower-level. “Whenever we have spaces under grade we make every effort to bring natural light to as many sides of the space as possible. Dan and Laurie’s home has light on three sides and includes lake views; it’s a pretty good situation. We gave the stairwell carefully consideration and arranged it in an “L” within a rectangular opening so plenty of western light could spill through to the lower-level family room. Plus, we made every effort to eliminate soffits, carefully planning and utilizing open web trusses—this way the lower-level ceiling height remains constant and the space feels more inviting and comfortable.

timber frame lower level stairs new energy works

“Going back to private spaces, the master suite has a vestibule. It is one of those planned rooms that helps create further division from the more public areas. There’s also a private deck accessible only from the master bedroom. The in-law suite is situated down a hallway off the entry, giving it the feeling of a private branch separate from the main core of the home. We know Laurie’s folks are excited about the suite. While we were raising the exterior timber components and decks, they pointed out the timbers going up on their corner exclaiming to onlookers ‘That’s our bedroom!’,Pete smiled broadly, “Their excitement was infectious.”

exterior timber frame raising new energy works

“The lower-level is also the space for guests. A bedroom, a bunk room, a family room, and what we’re calling a lake bathroom. It will be the spot to stop prior to journeying into the rest of the house after a swim or a visit to the shore.”

Giving Pete thanks for the information, I sent him off with a piece of spearmint gum (the best I could do in lieu of orange fish crackers).

Further into this summer, Laurie and Dan’s project will be complete. We’ll share a bit on the interior design and have plenty of finished images for you then. Thanks for joining this journey! If you’d like to see other projects we’ve general contracted, visit our Case Studies. And to learn more about our teams, visit Meet our People.

Nestled in Vermont

vermont timber frame rendering apr 2017

In our experience, homes are most successful when they adapt, age, and grow with their inhabitants. It’s always pleasing when we can plan ahead for changes, such as transitioning a weekend vacation space to full-time home. Hank and Julie have given us such an opportunity. The couple has a delightful build site in Fayston, VT and enlisted our team to design their vacation home, which will eventually become their full-time retirement retreat.

Sublime views of Slidebrook Basin between north and south ski areas of Sugarbush Resort guided the overall home orientation, and specifically the great room layout, for Hank and Julie’s project.

view of sugarbush

Careful consideration was also given to the traditional Vermont farmhouse vernacular. The design acknowledges this aesthetic with a main gable roofline that intersects with an asymmetrical salt box gable roofline. It incorporates the couple’s desire for mountain-rustic style with mixed exterior materials and subtle timber elements. The corner of the home’s “L” shaped layout is defined with a stair tower that has evenly stacked windows and will feature shou sugi ban siding.

The stair tower anchors the corner of the home's "L" shaped layout.

The stair tower anchors the corner of the home’s “L” shaped layout.

With a combination of woodlands and open agricultural space, the site will allow the home to be set partially within the trees at the end of a curving drive through open land. A banked garage is angled into the hillside, giving the front of the home a modest street-side facade.

Phippen_ericfraser1509.rvt_2017-Feb-08_02-29-00PM-000_3D_View_9

Meeting individual needs is always a design driver which, for this project, lead our team to incorporate a craft room on the lower level walk-out. This space was a must-have to support Julie’s non-profit and grassroots organization, Sewpportive Friends. The group creates kits vital to feminine hygiene for young girls and women in Zimbabwe; a necessity for both health and education. We can’t tell the story as well as the Sewpportive website and blog. Julie will be headed back to Zimbabwe with a team this July to distribute to more schools and villages. We’re excited for their continued success.

sewpportive web

Hank and Julie are avid outdoor enthusiasts leading to another need: storage. Large storage on the lower level will be used for housing/maintenance of skis, hiking gear, canoes, snowshoes, and other equipment. Walk-out access eases the transition to/from nature with or without gear.

Phippen LOCAL1

“We are having a very enjoyable time working with Ty, Pete, and the rest of the NEW crew. Their focus on creating a relationship with us, rather than making a transaction, is evident in their overall approach to the design/build work: from their site visit to our VT property, our trip to the NEW facility in Farmington, NY, and all additional communications. They are inspired, honest and professional. They understand that attention to what WE want in our house is of utmost importance, and are happy to share their knowledge and experience by providing creative ideas that we could explore or not.” – Hank and Julie.

An overall open floorplan ensures a relaxed, easy, flow when family and friends visit to sample local Vermont brews and views. It also allows for commanding views of the surrounding landscape from all common spaces.

Phippen LOCAL - 3D View - 3D View 14

We sat down with Pete, lead designer for Hank and Julie’s home, who explained that a key to open floor plans is accentuating areas with details, often flooring or in this case, with timber. Overall the timber frame directs views and differentiates spaces. In Hank and Julie’s home, two keyed beams flank the dining room and kitchen island (image below). This change in ‘ceiling’ visually separates the spaces from the great room which features canted queen post trusses with curved bottom chords (image above). Pete continued to verbally draw the home, describing flitch beams, a combination of steel and timber, used in the lower level to create a larger clearspan while defining the circulation of space from the family room. Moving up two levels, he noted that guest rooms have bunk loft beds over the closets, a fun feature that will likely be a fascinating novelty for kids and adults alike.

Phippen LOCAL - 3D View - 3D View 12

Other build details include roof SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and our Matrix Wall enclosure. We’ll be raising the frame this summer and working with Brothers Building of Waitsfield, VT to complete the project.

The home will include a master suite, craft room, great room, game room, and ample storage. 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

The home will include a master suite, craft room, great room, game room, and ample storage. 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

Many thanks to Hank and Julie for the kind words and for allowing us to be part of your project!