PROJECT NOTES: CATSKILL CREEK MODERN

AUGUST 13, 2015

PROJECT NOTES: CATSKILL CREEK MODERN

We were hired by the builders of this Lindal Cedar modern prefab to select the fixtures and finishes throughout the home and to create design plans for the kitchen and bathrooms. We also weighed in on the floor plan and certain design elements to improve the overall function and flow of the house. (View images from the plan using the arrows at the side of the screen.)

The house is sited in upstate New York with a back wall of glass open to the Catskill Creek. Given the setting and views we felt it best to let nature take center stage and recommended keeping the permanent fixtures and finishes neutral. The floor throughout is a polished concrete radiant heat slab that echoes the natural stone found just outside the door. The clients wanted white walls throughout and we recommended warming things up with wood elements in each room.

The kitchen is part of the great room that includes dining and living areas. We went with IKEA cabinets given our client's budget and the solid reputation the cabinet systems have for function and value. Not having used IKEA cabinets before, I went to their Brooklyn store to check them out in person and feel like I personally opened and closed every drawer and cabinet in all of the models on the floor. I left exhausted (as IKEA will do to you!!), but also fairly impressed at what they deliver for the price. We considered semi-custom cabinet fronts in natural wood, but given the budget, the white walls throughout the space and the fact that the kitchen island obscured most of the cabinet fronts from the living area view anyway, we felt it was better to go with white fronts and spend that money on the kitchen island finishes instead.

We recommended an island clad in locally sourced wood planks and a marble-esque Ceasarstone or marble counter top. The island is 3 x 8 ft. with a prep sink and cabinetry on one side and bar stool seating on the other. We specified locally sourced butcher block for the rear counter. The refrigerator is housed in a partition wall that allows it to face toward the kitchen area and not the living space. It also creates a nook between the refrigerator and exterior wall to store a microwave and coffee maker in an out-of-sight but still accessible area. On the other side, the partition wall creates an alcove for a daybed with built-in storage. The tall pantry cabinet to the left provides storage and leaves the walls open for large counter level windows providing views out into the surrounding woods. As the backspalsh is the smallest amount of tile being used in the house and is visible to the living areas, we recommended splurging on a higher quality here than in the bathrooms. We kept the oven hood and back wall sconces white and the island lighting clear to provide a seamless look and allow the view to be the main focus.

While the master bathroom has modern and sleek elements to it, we kept the plan warm and interesting with a teak shower mat and vintage teak case piece. Crate + Barrel wins my vote for best towel rack ever with the sleek lines of their Jackson model seen in the mock-up above. $180 may be a lot for a towel rack, but we saved money going with inexpensive readily available 4x4 tile. Additionally, it can be these small design elements that we use every day, like the towel rack and the toilet paper holder, that can greatly improve our experience of a room, which ultimately may be well worth the additional $150 in the end - but of course we gave the client some options just in case.

We kept to the same palette in the second bath, this time the teak is on the custom sequenced vanity fronts, which were afforded by going with simple inexpensive 1x1 tile. The simple palette allows the changing seasons to be brought in through all of the home's windows and literally with seasonal clippings, river rocks and forest floor finds.

The builders were great to work with and, of course, we love the Catskill Mountain setting, so all-in-all we were very happy to be included in the design of this home.

/JD