Architecture firm BarlisWedlick and Designer Martin Raffone Add an Urban Appeal to a Rural Home
by Arlene Hirst
Some people just grow tired of Manhattan. That's what happened to a New York couple who decided to leave their spacious Chelsea loft and move upstate to the Hudson Valley.
The men, mostly retired, owned a weekend house in the area and felt that they never spent enough time there. But moving into the dwelling on a permanent basis was not an option. It was built in the 1820s and came with all the problems of old houses. So they began to hunt for a place that was both comfortable and modern. "We didn't want to give up the luxury of what we had in the city," says one of the owners.
The search proved fruitless and they realized the need to build something themselves. They first purchased 52 acres, then 12 more and sought the services of the architectural firm of BarlisWedlick. Dennis Wedlick was an old friend and he had an office in Hudson, New York, not too far away.
The brief was clear: "They wanted an urban quality in a rural house," says Wedlick. The architects created what Alan Barlis describes as an iconic assemblage of rural structures, each with its own separate function. The living room is a classic glass-walled modern pavilion; the kitchen, with its soaring two-story pitched roof feels more like a barn; a dramatic three-story staircase—one level leads down to the basement— connects the disparate spaces. The materials are simple and classic: wood, stone, and concrete. "It's a modern version of a traditional building," says Barlis of the 4,600-square-foot dwelling.
For the interiors the owners worked with designer Martin Raffone who had previously done the couple's Manhattan loft. Raffone explains that they wanted him to bring their urban aesthetic to the house and accordingly used most of the furniture from their Chelsea apartment. The fit was not a problem since the owners had asked the architects to match the rooms to the proportionate scale of the loft. "It's very modern and minimal, but with rich textures and allusions to a barn," says Raffone. "We wanted the best of both worlds," says one of the owners. And they feel that they more than have it.