American designer Sharon Davis’ home in Garrison, New York, is a simple yet luxurious one-bedroom abode whose design was heavily inspired by its natural surroundings.
This home can well become the prototype for all abodes where respect for the environment is of uppermost consideration. Standing like a calm sentinel in the midst of a natural clearing in Garrison, New York, this outpost of privacy was built over two decades ago by American designer Sharon Davis.
It is a 3-acre site that is flanked by a nature preserve of about 70 acres area, and the Old Albany Post Road. Davis was “adamant that the house be small and have a light environmental footprint, while still be comfortable, modern and luxurious.” The 1-bedroom house is all this and more, a modern structure that is also a charming throwback to the cabin-in-the-woods times. Stark and luminous, the home’s primary tenor is inspired by its surroundings, and has been used to good complementary effect.
There is no place for flashy colours in the design scheme. “The existing house on the site became the starting point for the design because of its elegant size. The new house was created using the original house’s footprint, but engages with the surrounding environment in numerous ways,” states the team.
Reclaimed oak and salvaged pine form the simple, angular façade of the house. From outside to inside, this starkness of hue provides a good contrast with the smooth swathes of grey/black, whites and wooden browns of the interiors. The stairs on the outside have mahogany railings and are clad in bluestone slabs, which make it look like a Spartan cousin to the self-assured elegance of the blackened steel stairs inside.
The latter also lends itself to a lot of the railing and shelving, making it one of the more visually striking elements of a home mostly stripped clear of attention-seeking show-pieces. A lovely Corten Steel planter bed sits at the centre of the upper floor bedroom which is afforded ample views of the surroundings through the wide, fully retractable glass windows. If that isn’t ever enough, then just a few steps out is an Ipe wood deck where the communion with nature can be experienced ever so peacefully.
The flooring and island in the lower floor kitchen were created out of poured-in-place concrete, and a fireplace made out of slate adds a charming touch. The ground floor also graced with views of the outdoors, thanks to the tall retractable windows, features simple white/cream seating and a patchwork rug in multiple blunt colours.
The low ceiling here splits up mid-way to make way for the staircase. All around are squares and rectangles of differing lengths, breadths, and make, forming a disciplined and precise scheme that keeps the overall feel of the home tight even though the spaces are largely flowing into each other. Adjacent to the living room are the kitchen and the small dining area, awash in natural light and almost glowing in their white-walled splendour.
The lamps in this section are especially remarkable because of their quirkiness – the one above the dining table looks like a branch of a tree from which samurai swords are growing. The home’s green credentials are almost too easy to notice. All the building materials were sourced locally and consist of mostly recycled and reclaimed materials.There is soy foam and geo-thermal temperature control in place here.
“Landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz created a design for the site that uses only native plants – including a large wildflower meadow,” adds the team. To the back, the ground floor extends out into an array of patios linked by a small collection of steps. This can be used to access the gravel-lined landscape, a space perfect to stretch out one’s feet and stare up at starry skies at night.
Indeed, ‘relaxed’ is the seemingly uninterruptible default mood of this home. All of its 900 sq ft area is committed to a deft manoeuvring between the natural and the carefully crafted and polished and the rustic and modern minimalistic. This is the kind of home that too many dreams are made of.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy The Designer