In a previous post we talked about ‘island living: pull up a stool’. Kitchen islands are a popular spot for wood tops, but what about the overall kitchen materials and design? What considerations are made to keep the chef(s) connected with family and guests? What about storage space? Wood species and finishes? Rob, GM of our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and Andrew, interiors specialist in our design group, offered some insights.
“Why custom?” Robclarified before answering: “We like to tailor the kitchen to exactly what the client wants and needs. We can match, and hopefully enhance, the way they cook, serve, eat, entertain and live.”
Kitchen islands—central for gathering, food, and when necessary a spot to perch for a great photo op as Jonathan demonstrates!
Kitchens are often considered the heart of the home. Andrew shared a little history: “Interestingly enough the kitchen has gone full-circle in the lifespan of our country. In the span of 200 years we’ve gone from one room cabins where gathering around the hearth was simply a way of life, to the affluent days of the to-be-left-unseen butler’s pantry and galley kitchen separate from the dining/social areas of the home, to a revival of the central hearth concept appearing today in the form of ‘open plan living’.”
“It’s a destination, a resort for the whole family. With NEW’s help we built the forever home in New York. The meaningful pieces are already there and we hope to pass it on to the next generation. To keep it in the family for decades.” –Homeowner, Laurie
On one of our typical cool, rainy, and windy Autumn days in upstate New York, I had the chance to chat with Laurie who was enjoying some sun and warmth down in Texas. We worked with Laurie and her husband Dan for over a year designing, building, and completing their multi-generational lakeside retreat home in nearby Canandaigua, NY. I asked Laurie if she would share her take on what it was like to build and decorate a custom timber frame home. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I know I spent much of our conversation nodding and smiling. Here’s what she shared:
Laurie and Dan (left) captured images as the frame came together for their lake home.
Megan: So much is about the build site. Why Canandaigua?
Laurie: Actually, Dan and I are both natives of Rochester [city north of Canandaigua]. We grew up in the area and were always frequenting the surrounding Finger Lakes. We admired Canandaigua Lake and wanted to build there specifically. It took a few years to find our site, but we were patient and persistent. What we found had an old fishing camp on it and the grade was pretty steep, but we loved it. It was December when we asked New Energy Works to take a look at the land with us. Ty and Pete came out, looked around, and told us ‘yes, we can definitely make something special here’.
Need storage space? Display space? Can’t find a piece of furniture that’s the right size? Let’s talk built-ins.
What is a built-in? We’ve found a variety of pieces answer this question. Their unifying characteristic is a permanent fastening to the structure they live in. They are specifically sized to fit an existing space and are optimized for efficiency. Ranging from large to small, from simplistic to complicated, from cabinetry to bunks and benches, built-ins are varied and specific.
This built-in combines open shelving scribed around a corner post with cabinets and a live-edge top.
Our fine woodworking team, NEWwoodworks, and our design team deep dive into these pieces, aiming for designs that will suit current and future needs of the homeowners. Creating flexible pieces in a fixed or permanent space is a challenge solved with collaboration—internally and especially with the family that will live with, and interact daily with, the resulting fixture.
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.
Timber 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.
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. Part 2:Laying The Groundwork Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.
Part 3:Built to Last Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape. Part 4:Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long! Part 5:Lessons Learned Communication proves vital in the build process for sticking to the plan and modifying. Part 6: Elements of Surprise
Nearing completion, creativity and flexibility lead to modified plans. Part 7:The Big Finish Mixed materials, including reclaimed wood, make a statement on the interior and exterior of the Olsen Home. Part 8:The Great Escape
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout,” says Greg Olsen. Our 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.