Creek House is a weekend retreat for a family from Manhattan, designed by Studio MM, situated in Ulster County, New York. The architect had purchased 38 acres in the area with plans to design and build five custom homes; this one is the first completed. The contemporary 2,600 square foot, three bedroom, three bathroom split-level home is set within 7 acres of dense woods and undulating terrain, drawing on the privacy of the surrounding landscape to provide a peaceful escape from the intensity of the city. One side of the house is nestled into the hillside, minimizing the impact of the mass of the house on the site and taking advantage of the geothermal qualities of the earth. The opposite facade opens up at the edge of a steep slope to capture the view of the rushing stream 100 feet below. The goal for the design of the house is to maintain a functional yet modest floor plan that offers an open and spacious home for its users. To accomplish this, the living room, dining room and kitchen are designed as one interactive space with expansive exterior glass walls which open up to increase the living area of the home by almost double. Essentially, the outdoors becomes the living room. Plenty of sunlight with large windows on both floors facing toward the south contributes some passive solar heating in the winter, while the trees keep the house from overheating and relying on air conditioning by blocking the high summer sun.
The narrow widths of glass and vertical frames echo the trunks of the trees beyond.
The kitchen island is the main gathering space for family and guests. The architect specified a slab of Statuarietto marble for the kitchen counters, one of the main features of the house.
The kitchen features back-painted glass on the wall behind the stove and range hood. “The reflections in the glass from the indirect lighting above and the trees from the living room windows opposite create the feeling of a window even though the kitchen is along the wall which backs up to the earth,” states the architect.
Like the cedar outside, the wood flooring is treated for protection; these floors are solid oak with linseed oil. The deck’s wood flooring lets it read like a literal continuation of the floor from inside to outside.
Given that the house has bedrooms above the living space, one enters on the top and either turns left to head up a few steps to the master bedroom and second bedroom, or descends the stairs to the living area and guest bedroom.
Natural light comes in through a narrow window, placed so somebody taking a shower can see outside without being seen.
Photos: Paul Warchol
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