Rooms with a View

A modern lake house in Waccabuc is the epitome of bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out

Described as a modern lake house, this stunning home on the edge of Lake Waccabuc is anything but your cookie-cutter, gable-style suburban abode. 

The driving force behind the project was Workshop/APD, a full-service architectural firm in New York City that also specializes in interior design. The firm’s holistic yet detailed approach to design is evident throughout both the interior and the exterior of this home—right down to the light fixtures and throw pillows. 

The couple, who reside primarily in Manhattan, purchased a house on this property some years ago and spent a lot of time there with their children, but they knew they would eventually raze that house in favor of a larger one that better fit their needs. 

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They wanted a place they could escape to on weekends throughout the year and to have friends and family visit from the city. The end result is a home that is ideal for family getaways, functional for entertaining, and super-stylish, to boot. 

Natural textures were used throughout the home in the design so that nothing felt too “new” but did feel cozy and lived in. 

 

~The Inspiration~

The inspiration for this home came from nearby restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, says Andrew Kotchen, co-principal of Workshop/APD. “I thought it represented an elegant resolution of an old estate with a modern reservation,” he says. 

Several outdoor areas were created to enjoy the lake view. The architect wanted the home to feel “engulfed by trees.”

Construction on the home lasted two years, but the entire project took closer to three years with the interior design. 

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The property is surrounded by trees, and the back of the house provides a spectacular view of, and access to, Lake Waccabuc. There was a large rock ledge near the building site when they began construction, so the team had to excavate a lot of stone, which they were determined to reuse in the project. 

“That became a driving force,” says Kotchen of the stone. “[After that], it was really all about creating these vertical and open spaces with a lot of glass, so the woods were merging with the interior. We wanted to feel like the trees were engulfing the home; the view of the lake was the focus in the back.”

 

 

~Design Philosophy Room by Room~

The light fixture in the dining room needed to fill the space and be eye-catching. It was selected by the designer at Workshop/APD from a boutique in France.

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From floor to ceiling, everything in the home works together seamlessly. The design intentionally matches the architecture of the home, which is part of Workshop/APD’s philosophy. All of the interior design is done in-house and starts very early on in the construction process. “Design influences the architectural palette,” Kotchen says. 

“[The interior design] was all about bringing in muted colors, textures, and patterns,” Kotchen adds, “and building around a few authentic pieces and combining them with custom pieces and new things.”

Workshop/APD’s interior designer purchased some of the home’s décor pieces in antiques shops and other stores in the Hudson Valley. Other items were custom-made, like the living room’s Chamberlain Sofa, by Brooklyn-based Fresh Kills, and chairs by Jean Gillion, a Brazilian furniture maker. Unique details were added throughout the house, such as hand-carved African pieces that hang on the wall in the sitting area. 

“All of the materials, even the fabrics, were intended to have an authentic age to them,” Kotchen says. “None of the architecture or décor feels too shiny and new. It took a year, year and a half to build all the pieces and find the right ones for each space.”

In addition to the three main living spaces, including the living room, family room, and kids’/media room, there are three “secondary nooks.” 

“You want to be able to have everyone together, but [also give people] the opportunity to break out and do their own thing,” says Kotchen. “The family wanted to be there on rainy, sunny, or wintry days and enjoy it all year long.”

The dining room, rather than the kitchen, is the heart of the home in this floor plan. It is nestled in between the family room and kitchen and opens up to the second floor, looking out onto the lake through the home’s expansive windows. Above the dining-room table hangs a statement light fixture from a Paris company named Design Heure. “We wanted a light fixture to fill the volume of the space and be a part of the overall design,” says Kotchen.

Because the dining room is the eye-catching element of this space, the kitchen’s design is one of understated elegance, but it still provides the functionality of a chef’s kitchen.

“It’s centrally located, so we didn’t want it to scream kitchen,” Kotchen says, explaining that they settled on a “shiplap aesthetic,” so the kitchen would “appear to be a backdrop and not stand in the foreground.”

They gave the kitchen three layers: a large island, the central kitchen, and another space behind that for storage. 

 

~Attention to Detail~

A mix of furnishings and styles were used throughout the house; the design inspired the architecture as much as the architecture inspired the design.

The windows were another driving force in the design of this home. Starting right at the front door and leading all the way through the house to the back, they are a focal point.

“It’s all about the windows,” Kotchen says, adding that: “The windows were carefully considered where the scale changes,” with smaller windows in the nooks mentioned above and larger ones in the more spacious living areas.  

The front door is an oversized solid-oak door, but it is surrounded by glass, giving the design a wonderful balance.  

The front entrance is marked by an oversized solid-oak door, but everything around it is glass. “You can see everything that is going on throughout the house, but the door makes it feel more private,” Kotchen explains. The first thing you see when you walk in is a massive staircase. “We wanted the stairs to be a focal point because the home has three floors,” he adds. “The stairs are an architectural feature of both the interior and exterior. 

“We created this gasket in the home that merges the main entrance, off the parking court, which separates the two gable forms of the home,” he continues. “There is a bridge that connects the master bedroom with the kids’ rooms; it really is the knuckle of the whole home.”

And from the windows to the floors and everything in-between, the attention paid to details in this design is evident wherever you look. 

All the materials used inside and out have a natural feel. The interior floors are all character-grade oak and were installed early on in construction, so that they would become more aged and get dinged up a bit. It’s something most homeowners try to avoid, but it really works for the look and feel of this home. 

On the outside of the house, the team used custom-made white-oak shingles instead of cedar shingles. And the steel has a matte-black patina that was hand-painted to give it an aged quality. 

The detailed design scheme extends to the outdoor living spaces, as well. New York City firm Gunn Landscape Architecture developed the master plan and executed it with the help of contractor ABC Construction. They merged the upper deck and lower-lawn areas seamlessly, creating multiple terraces that give depth without making it feel like you’re vertically traversing all of the time. “We wanted to merge the house into the hillside,” says Kotchen. 

Kotchen and his team accomplished that mission, both indoors and out. This lake house brings functionality and style together as one in every way.  

The home offers areas for large get-togethers both inside and out but also has smaller spaces where family and guests have the opportunity to break out and do their own thing. The landscaping was done by Gunn Landscape Architecture. 

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