By John Nevadomski
Photography by Tim Wilkes
When it came time for the owners of this lakefront lot in the Finger Lakes region of New York to draft a dream team for their custom home, they skipped having a lengthy roster of names and numbers and instead, committed to one key player.
For more than 30 years, New Energy Works has been crafting sustainability minded timber frame homes throughout the country. In that time, their expertise and offerings have grown to include in-house architects, interior designers, general contracting and construction as well as a fine woodworking division known as NEWwoodworks and its sister company, Pioneer Millworks, which manufactures reclaimed and sustainable wood products.
Every one of these were engaged to construct this one-of-a-kind home.
“The homeowners were on board with utilizing our services as a whole from the beginning,” explains Kyle Barber, a Certified Passive House Consultant® and the head of New Energy Works’ design team. “They wanted a New Energy Works house, which meant one-off custom design, timber frame, fine woodworking, Pioneer Millworks flooring and siding, general contracting and sustainable construction methods. The home also features our high-performance enclosure system, which is a wall and roof system that maximizes the thermal envelope and airtightness, resulting in a home that will last for generations and requires much less energy to heat and cool than a conventionally built home.”
The homeowners came to the project with a previous connection to New Energy Works through the company’s fine woodworking division, which had done extensive remodeling work for them on a different property. But building a brand-new lakefront home can present unique challenges, which Kyle knows all too well.
“At our first site visit and design kickoff meeting with the clients, it quickly became apparent that this home would need to be tailored not only to the homeowner’s vision of a unique timber frame lake house, but also to the landscape and shape of the property,” he explains. “The design of this project was heavily dictated by the wedge-shaped site, the access points and the neighboring structures, which are challenges that are common to building a lakefront home but not always easily solved.”
Kyle and the design team took advantage of the unique shape of the property to craft a home that draws you through its entryway and down its corridors towards the water, thoughtfully capturing as much daylight and expansive lake views as possible. The design simultaneously prioritizes privacy, thanks in large part to the strategic use of well-placed windows and an offset gable roof.
“The lot is narrow at the lake and widens out towards the road end. The design also allowed us to put in a nice big garage and turn-around area on the back of the property,” the homeowners explain. “We love waking up in the morning to our views. New Energy Works did a great job of positioning the house, so we don’t feel like we are surrounded by our neighbors.”
Aesthetically, the home is a handcrafted melding of Old-World rugged charm and modern design finishes. NEWwoodworks supplied the completely custom fine woodworking for the home’s doors, cabinets, countertops and benches. Reclaimed redwood siding from Pioneer Millworks wraps the exterior of the home as well as parts of the interior living area, bringing a sense of organic flow and connection to nature throughout the structure.
“The choice to combine rustic materials like the textured Douglas fir timbers and reclaimed barnwood siding with casual, fresh-sawn white oak flooring created the basis for a very modern-natural aesthetic that the clients allowed us to play with throughout the design,” says New Energy Works’ interior designer Diana Gerken. “We used a lot of natural textures, colors and tones that play against each other and enrich the space in a very tactile way. The home surrounds you with the feeling that everything about it is part of the surrounding landscape. The soft push and pull of the rugged and modern materials make it a very tranquil, peaceful space.
“I think people are gravitating more and more to sustainable design choices and natural materials in general, but especially here in the Finger Lakes, which this home showcases,” Diana continues. “Aesthetics that are rooted in nature just fit the region, they tie into the wineries, the lakes and the forests. Keeping that sense of connection to the natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Finger Lakes when designing a new home is something our team really tries to focus on.”
Bringing with them a passion for timber frame design and a reverence for local craftspeople, the homeowners’ choice to call on the entire team at New Energy Works to construct their new home resulted in an expertly crafted, completely custom, heirloom-quality lakefront home. From the materials selections to the construction methods, the home’s modern-natural design seamlessly blends traditional craft with modern technology and gives the structure an undeniable sense of connection to its surroundings.
“If you look at this home from the lake, it almost blends in with the landscape, especially when compared to the neighboring properties,” says Kyle. “I think that is a testament to the home’s custom design and use of natural materials, colors and finishes. The house feels like it belongs on the lake; it looks like it has always been there even though it is a modern design. It just fits. I am so thankful to the clients for putting their trust in us to deliver them a home that is so special.”
Square Footage: 2,568
Architect/Builder: New Energy Works