Photos by Ty Cole
When a Manhattan couple went looking for a weekend home for their family of four, the search brought them to a charming cabin in the woods of Carmel — just the study in contrasts they’d hoped for.
“In the city, they live in an Upper East Side apartment that’s bright, white, and modern, so they were looking for something that was relatively close by but had outdoor space and a different feel,” says New York-based architect Sarah Jacoby. “This house is comfortable and cozy, with stone and dark wood. There’s something quite romantic about it.”
Jacoby worked with the couple on their apartment and returned to oversee the renovation on this house. “We spent a great deal of the project focused on retaining the feel of a country house while also making it work for them,” she says. “So, the goal was to make it bright and inviting yet rustic.”
Structural problems compounded the challenge. “The roof over the great room was caving in; the beams were failing,” Jacoby says. The family also wanted two things that didn’t exist at the time of the purchase: air conditioning and an enclosed porch. “What we thought would be simple wound up requiring us to rebuild a quarter of the house.”
Here’s a look at the results.
Making a House a Home
Considerable work was done to the 1930s Adirondack cottage to repair structural damage and add a screened-in porch. “There were a lot of different floor levels and rooflines,” Jacoby says, “and a lot of the interior and exterior work was about pulling it together and making it feel less piecemeal and more cohesive.” One way to unify and add character to the old and new parts: paint. Formerly dark brown, the entire house is now blue (Benjamin Moore Stillwater trimmed with Benjamin Moore Westcott Navy).
Light and Bright
The kitchen needed higher ceilings in order to exit to the new porch, so Jacoby gutted and replaced it. “The plumbing fixtures stayed where they were, but everything else changed,” she says. The weathered-white clay tiles on the backsplash and the back of the island bring in texture, while the blue chairs add life to the space.
The countertop island brings a bit of the outdoors in. “We were looking for something that felt natural,” Jacoby says. “This stone has a lot of color and tone and natural movement in it, which connects to what they loved about the house.” A wall of doors leads onto the porch.
The moose and the fireplace were part of the home when the family moved in, providing striking anchors for the room. But the roof was collapsing. “This room was a huge part of what they loved about the house, so we needed to do a lot of work to make sure it survived,” Jacoby says. After the structural work was completed, a debate ensued about how to handle the walls. The room was covered in dark wood. “There was ambivalence about getting rid of it, but it felt dark and oppressive.” The solution: Keep the special details (the millwork, arched doors, giant beams, and window seat), use drywall everywhere else, and add skylights. “We made it into a space that would be functional and exciting to use but still retain the original character.”
Also original to the house: a tiny balcony with a twig railing. “Everyone liked this as much as they liked the moose,” Jacoby says. Behind it: the mechanical equipment for the new central air conditioning.
The family felt strongly about having an enclosed porch on the house. With a seating area on one end and a dining area on the other, the new addition provides them with another living space. “It’s a place where they spend a lot of time — an extension of their kitchen living,” says Jacoby, who lined the porch with knotty pine and left it unfinished. “It fits in with the rustic feel of the surroundings.”
A curved door leads inside to the mudroom. The sconces are new and used all around the house. “Exterior lighting was a concern because the family often gets there late on Friday,” Jacoby says. “These lights are bright but also fit with the house.”