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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cottage 22 - Another One Sold

Listen, the bottom line is it's too late to get too fancy with this post, and so I settle in to my writing position after a scotch (or two), and try and enunciate, extrapolate, explore and exonerate a wide ranging emotional palette.

Bronson and Courtney came to us and imagined themselves in one of our cottages and signed up pretty quick which explains why today they closed on the house that will rehabilitate them after the battles of the workweek. Thing is - from start of planning to move in date is really never more than a few months - and all these people, families and partners who decide to build a house with us even though the thought of building a house seemed pretty mature, all these people experience a pretty well thought out, on budget, on schedule process. It's actually pretty amazing how we bring them in on time and on schedule - if anybody would have plenty of reason for excuses it would be me - with crazy icy snowy freezing winters and summers of continuous rain - we just don't make excuses. We just go ahead and do what we say - on time, on budget. The excuses are for other people's businesses and other people's business plans. We just find it easier to do what we say we are going to do.

And when you think about, doing what you say you are going to do is about the most out of fashion way to be that there is. Sure, you can tell white lies, manipulate the facts, deny the obvious, and scheme your way to riches or less, but the idea of shooting straight, telling it like it is - well, that's the essence of our homes, our business plan, our strategic manual. I posit that everyone (many persons, at least) can respect the business that owns up, fesses up, and attacks with all limbs together a goal - the fact that our goal couldn't be simpler - let's build homes, small homes, with a personality of the new owners and the builder combined, a new home that works, a new home that feeds back through it's emotional essence.

And that's why people buy older homes - it's because the history of the home feeds back, imbibes and intoxicates, tells a story and narrative, has memories that are soaked up in a rocking chair, 100 years later.

And some how, Catskill Farms instills our new homes with a sense of that architectural feedback. It's not easily done, the recipe more elusive than the rules of love.

Besides the elusive emotional feedback of the architectural essence of our homes, there is a very real pragmatic reason why we are the only game in town - in the picture above, the downed trees are cut into firewood, the ground is covered with topsoil and grass is planted and growing, and even the odd stump is strategically left unfettered, so revelers can stop and rest before heading to the next property adventure. The 'going the extra mile' is obvious to anyone who seeks to see.

The big clear Edison glass, simply framing the incandescent energy, picture shot from the upstairs landing looking out a big ass window into the scary Friday the 13th woods (just kidding - sorry all new homeowners).

Now, who's going to argue that this isn't a cool sink to come home to. Floor to ceiling subway tile and a great sink uniquely defining the only full bath in the house.

Below is a cool picture, - capture the elements - it's like one of those puzzles in the daily paper - can you find all the hidden elements in the picture. The 5 panel doors, the hand hewn beams, the steel cable rail, the sliding barn door on a track, the flat black door hinges and white on black door knobs.

The fireplace is nothing gaudy which only reinforces its beauty. Is there any higher compliment in today's America than restraint, elegance and simplicity?

Here you have some fine irregular rectangular stone, a local beam, and a local bluestone hearth.

The Owners had this swell idea to keep the area going down into the basement open and it's one of those eye opening design explorations that turned out to be genius. Opens up the first floor, and creates a neat little area going down stairs. In this pic, straight ahead is a closet, to the left a door to the basement, and the right a window to the outdoors (and scary Jason). I love that little wall hung radiator on the brick face with perfectly irregular quarried bluestone.

The kitchen is simple and complete with appliances, open shelves, farm sink, and view out back across the covered porch.

Living room to staircase to kitchen, lit by big schoolhouse light which I like a lot. Amplified by the first thing moved into the house - a guitar. Now you tell me - that's not a perfect compliment?

That's Kevin, one of our architects we like a lot.
And some custom wall paper in the powder room of the Owner's bloc in Tribeca. And seriously, that's the small unique customizations that make each home unique to the owners.

Great Schoolhouse light (or maybe it's the photographer).

Great Radiator Art. These things pump up the heat.

And the porches. This porch is big, rustic, and has speakers throughout.

But what really burns me about this photo is the fucking lumber left laying around. The point being is how many times did James Juan and Curtis walk over this lumber on the days leading up to closing and not think it was important to organize better, more sightly. I just wonder what went through their minds - "No big deal, this lumber spewed about when the new homeowners turn the corner to their new porch." Literally, my team was there the day of closing, the day before and the day before and no one thought arranging the lumber was an important presentation detail.

Very disappointing when trying to experiment with delegation.

There's Kevin again.

Here we got the stained sidings, painted rails and rough hewn rafter timbers.

Going up the stairs.

The Owners.
The refrigerator and radiator vying for most eye pleasing.
James in motion.

And the pretty picturesque exterior.

And so that's how I do it. Keep your eye on the ball, never underestimate the intelligence of your customer, and keep it all moving forward - come hell or high water..


  1. Glad to see the flat black hinges and not those garish fake brass jobs in your earlier repertoire. Nice to see you are still innovating and tuning with each iteration even if not entirely sold on the open shelves in kitchen and all those McMansion stoves you're putting in...

  2. Tricks - thanks for writing and contributing. We've learned a lot over the years, paid for in blood, debt, tears, and humiliation.

    BTW, I don't choose the appliances. In fact, I wouldn't know an expensive stove from a whole in the wall - don't do much in the kitchen - that's Lisa's domain.