Hudson Valley Architect Alexander Gorlin Renovates Stone Farmhouse in Catskill, Upstate NY
A noted architect mixes modernism and Catskill vernacular architecture to update and expand a simple stone farmhouse
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Sliding glass doors open onto a terrace from the sunny family room-cum-kitchen. Designer Kedigian demonstrates his talent for mixing things up with Thos. Moser Bungalow chairs paired with a circa 1860 English refectory table, 1950s pleather chairs, and an L-shaped sofa, custom-made to fit the space. The coffee table’s legs are rough-hewn beams taken from the stone house during the renovation, with a top made of re-milled old wood
Gorlin designed two other freestanding barns, one of which serves as a garage and the other as a workshop. Both have proportions that reflect the lines of the post-and-beam, Civil War-era hay barn nearby. The cluster of buildings together “creates the impression of a small village,” Gorlin notes.
As you approach, it’s unclear what, precisely, makes up the dwelling. The row of connected buildings presents an almost austere face, with few windows and deliberately small entrances that don’t interrupt the silhouette. The expansive vista is blocked. “Guests who come for the first time have no idea,” remarks the wife. “It looks like a bunch of barns, so when you walk in, it’s spectacular.”
Inside, the house feels spacious, with rooms that flow easily, and windows framing different panoramas. “Alex was very involved with sight lines,” remarks the wife. “There are about six places outside where you can see straight through the house to the view. It was exciting to work with him.”
In the screened porch, chairs that resemble coral add splashes of red
The owners are also delighted with the interiors designed by Garrow Kedigian. “We’ve used some big-name designers in the past, but he was the best, and the most original,” says the owner. “Garrow was terrific,” the wife agrees. “It was a difficult job. We wanted the house to be comfortable and not stuffy. He followed our lead, and he had great ideas.” Kedigian, who describes his style as “streamlined classic,” is an architect by training who has a flair for eclectic, well-thought-out interiors that don’t look “decorated” or overdone.
He designed and selected all the trim work, floors, and ceilings. It was his idea to reuse the 250-year-old wood beams and boards taken from the stone house during its renovation. A couple of beams were used as banisters, some were incorporated as posts for the kitchen island, and others became the legs of a coffee table whose top is remilled floorboards.
Classy accents In the kitchen, white oak cabinetry, putty-colored ceramic tiles for the backsplash, and champagne Caesarstone countertops provide a subdued palette that gets a jolt of barn red on the island countertop. Kedigian also painted a few window sashes red to draw the eye to the outdoors. “It’s all about the views,” he says
Kedigian lined the vaulted ceiling of the great room with tongue-and-groove planks. “The beams are at different angles, so it was haphazard,” he says. “The wood ceiling gives the room some repeated patterning, some rhythm, and adds a sense of scale and proportion.” He made the windows in the great room appear larger by casing them in wood to the floor. Deep bluestone sills emphasize the thickness of the walls.
The designer seamlessly mixed modern furnishings with mid-century, Arts and Crafts, and rustic pieces, and used a palette of stone tones with splashes of barn red to connect the rooms and reflect the outdoors. Even interior vistas were thought out. The owners wanted to use part of the great room for more formal dining. “We wanted an unbroken view from the hallway into the great room, but how do you accomplish that with a big dining table?” Kedigian asks. The answer: two dining tables, one on either side of the expanse. “I found a near pair at Freddy Victoria, and had them touched up to match,” he says. “That was a happy accident.” Circa 1865 English chairs are perfect mates for the clean lines of the mid-century modern tables.
Designer, architect, and owners enthusiastically praise builder Eric Carlson of Norseway Construction in Catskill, whose work in bringing the plans to reality “was awesome,” as Kedigian puts it.
“Alex did a fantastic job of integrating the buildings with the property,” say the owners. “Between Alex and Garrow, the house is unbelievable. We couldn’t be happier.”