The Spiral House: Living Inside a Work of Art
A new book looks into a one-of-a-kind home in Saugerties.
Photos By Phil Mansfield
In 1997, after years of living and working out of a two-bedroom ranch house perched over a bluestone rock quarry near Saugerties, Patty Livingston and her stone sculptor/abstract painter husband Tom Gottsleben wanted to build a little guest house on their property.
“We didn’t set out to build a spiral house,’’ Livingston writes in the intro of their gorgeous new coffee-table book The Spiral House: Revealing the Sacred in Everyday Life, “but when you’re married to an artist … the result was a five-story spiral that became our home.”
While standing in the observation room and looking down through its glass door, you see directly into the eye of the spiral.
The Spiral House is a 4,000-square- foot private home that “turns” 2 1/4 times around its interior axis of a 32-foot stainless steel and glass spiral staircase. Built with a lot of help from local builders, artisans, and friends, this concrete/bluestone/steel/glass house is located on 35 acres next to a bluestone quarry with a stunning view of the Catskills’ Overlook Mountain.
Patty Livingston and Tom Gottsleben built the Spiral House with the goal of honoring sacred geometry. This is seen throughout the home and property, including the staircases, the fireplace, and the kitchen/dining room.
The Spiral House: Revealing the Sacred in Everyday Life takes readers through the genesis of the house, from modest guesthouse to a stone spiral house built according to sacred geometrical principles seen in both nature and ancient historical structures.
Photo by Mick Hales
Gottsleben and Livingston, along with Woodstock-based co-author/designer Ronnie Shushan, wrote the 317-page book to understand the 20 years spent creating this unique property (complete with acres of contemplative sculpture gardens) and to inspire others to want to make their own homes more alive and in tune with a sense of place and a feeling of unity.
This book shows why an Instagram feed or website could never do justice to a living artistic project such as The Spiral House. Its beautifully designed four-color spreads are filled with schematics, artwork, and more than 500 luscious exterior and interior photos (some spread across 40-inch-wide gatefolds), many of which were contributed by acclaimed house-and-garden photographer Mick Hales.
Left: Patty Livingston and Tom Gottsleben.
The Spiral House: Revealing the Sacred in Everyday Life (G ARTS Glitterati Editions; 2019; 316 pages, $75), Tom Gottsleben and Patty Livingston with Ronnie Shushan
Couple photo by Andrea Barrist Stern
But it’s the text that stays with you. Filled with inspirational quotes and illuminating stories about the love of land, color, light, history, and meaning behind building a special house like this, the text is like a meditation. In another way, the book is like a good detective story where the mystery is “How do you create a livable spiral house?” In both ways, you’re pulled through the first-person stories of Livingston and Gottsleben (who sadly died in 2019 at age 68 as the book went to press) and their beloved Spiral House.
The Spiral House isn’t open to the public (except on rare garden conservancy days), but this book is the next best thing to being there — alive with the thoughts, feelings, images, and inspiration of this special house and couple. A perfect gift book to celebrate the beauty and art of the Hudson Valley while bringing a bit of the sacred into everyday life. For more go to http://spiralhouse.com.