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.

Upon entering from the road, the upper level sitting area and balcony are visible while a central stair encourages visitors to continue forward and down to the main community spaces. Photo by Matt Wittmeyer

A combination of reclaimed Jarrah risers, reclaimed Elm treads, and Douglas fir balusters/railing from the gently curving stair which unites the upper street level private spaces and main level public spaces. The flair of the stair welcomes one into the living room/kitchen/dining areas. This stair was crafted by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks using reclaimed wood from Pioneer Millworks.

As the site cascades to the lake, the home opens up to take in the views and expands into larger family spaces.

Viewed from the lake, the timber frame cottage opens and expands to accommodate indoor/outdoor living spaces at the main (middle) level and storage on the lower level. Effort was made to preserve the existing mature trees/landscape.

An eyebrow dormer in the living room atop vertical windows allows light into the space while minimizing the impact of the sun on this western facing facade. The scale of the living room and other common spaces offers an intimacy traditionally experienced in cozy cottages.

Reclaimed Knotty’n’Naily t&g celebrates its character throughout this lake cottage, including over the timber frame eyebrow dormer window and family room. Photo by Matt Wittmeyer.

Overlooking the living room and dining area, situated at the base of the stairs, is the heart of the home: the kitchen. Custom crafted by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, it includes a reclaimed Jarrah that top puts ‘wood where the elbows are‘ while Sheldon Slate counters provide ample area for meal preparation.

Pioneer Millworks reclaimed wood was thoughtfully crafted by NEWwoodworks into the cabinetry, rolling chop-block, high top, and flooring within the cottage’s kitchen. Photo by Matt Wittmeyer.

Spalting was celebrated and grain matching flows throughout all of the handcrafted cabinetry made by NEWwoodworks.

Vital to making the most of lake living are the screened porches, balcony, deck, and lake-level storage/access.

Multiple level screened porches and an open deck help the family make the most of lake living.

The master bedroom enjoys a private screened porch atop the main level screened porch. An open balcony (aka: ‘star deck’) off the upper level sitting area gives opportunity to guests to enjoy a bit of private outside space.

The master bedroom screen porch connects with the upper-level guest balcony, or ‘star deck’ each blurring the line between inside and out. We’re told the star deck is one of the family’s favorite spaces for nighttime gatherings.

Most popular is the main level deck and screened porch. Sheltered from the elements but full of natural light and air, more often than not this space is where meals, games, and most friends and family time is savored.

A custom timber frame screened porch is a major gathering space for family and friends enjoying the lake cottage. Photo by Matt Wittmeyer.

The home’s main storage area is situated at lake level, accessible from inside the home or via double doors reached from the deck. Canoes, kayaks, fishing poles, paddle boards, and more lake “musts” are sheltered within.

Reclaimed Knotty’n’Naily Douglas fir, celebrated throughout this home, adds character to the double storage doors crafted by NEWwoodworks.

Also nestled on this level: The wine room. Located behind a flat track barn door—an original artifact salvaged during deconstruction of the site’s old home.

The wine cellar includes a tasting room clad with reclaimed Vat Stock paneling and featuring a maple “trunk” table. The maple tree originally stood on the site and was salvaged during deconstruction of the old home.

Tom of Tom Breen Design was privy to a tour of this lake cottage by the homeowner. After which he sent us the following note: “This summer I happened upon a home that New Energy Works recently built on Keuka Lake and was given a spontaneous personal tour by the gracious owner who just raved about her experience with New Energy Works. My goodness, what a beautiful home! I just had to say what a pleasure it was to stumble across such an exuberant example of New Energy Works’ success.”

Our thanks to Tom for the kind words. Many thanks to the homeowners Tina and Harold for allowing us to design, craft, and build their lake home. It is a project we continue to come back to over the years. It exemplifies intentional design, highly detailed workmanship, and minimal environmental impact. Interested in more images and notes on this project? See the case study on our website. Have a dream home that you’re ready to move forward with? Reach out, we’d love to hear about it.