A young French couple, happily living in New York, never expected that health problems would force them to consider leaving the city they loved. The proud urbanites relished in their active lifestyle, until one of them developed a sudden immune illness, prompting a severe and nearly fatal health battle. Realizing, shockingly, that the apartment they adored may be causing or exacerbating the illness, they immediately moved out of the city. Once health conditions stabilized, the couple made changing their environment a priority, and carefully started planning a permanent relocation.
Landing on New York’s scenic Hudson Valley, the couple decided to make it the site of their full-time relocation. Leaving their urban life behind in favor of rural upstate New York, the pair found the peace and tranquility they craved, while still being within commuting distance to the city for work. In relocating geographically, they took the move as an opportunity to reset mentally, with a new focus on living simply and minimally.
Connecting with Studio MM, the active and creative couple set out to build a new home that would meet a very unique set of needs – while being modest in size, mindful of a fixed budget, and flexible enough to grow with them for years to come. Although situated on four acres of land, the home is challenged by a tight building site, which heavily restricted placement and orientation. Furthermore, the site was impacted by a nearby mountain road on one side, while the opposite side offered unparalleled opportunity to showcase scenic and unobstructed vistas. Optimizing for privacy and views, exposure was limited on the “road side” of the lot, while gracious openings adorn the opposite side, revealing views of a tranquil nearby pond and mountains beyond.
The design and programming of the one-bedroom dwelling was planned around an unconventional locus – a twenty-eight foot aerial studio. The studio, complete with ceiling-mounted trapeze, starts on the main level of the home and climbs to the second floor, the verticality of the space emphasized by soaring floor-to-ceiling windows. The central studio is as much about health as it is about creative expression. As physical inversion is known to clear lymph nodes and promote circulation, being suspended upside down on the trapeze encourages internal recovery and healing. The movement on the trapeze is intimately connected with the outdoors, with serene views adding to the restorative experience – physically and emotionally – of the studio.
On the other side of the home, the two-story living spaces offer visual balance with the studio’s height and massing. Open to the kitchen, the first-floor living room enjoys panoramic views overlooking the pond, and a cozy window bench for enjoyment by the couple – and their beloved cat, Jasper. Between the studio and living areas, a cantilevered balcony emerges on the second floor, anchoring and connecting the two wings. The elevated balcony offers distant views of Mount Beacon and Scofield Ridge, and provides an inspiring place for meditating, enjoying open-air meals, or marveling at the sunset.
The clients’ move represented a significant transition in their lives, prompting introspection, reflection, and a shifting mindset. Prioritizing a pure, simple, and minimal environment free of excess, what was not included in the design was just as important as what was. The couple ended up scaling backlights in the final design, opting instead to follow the cues of natural sunlight in an embrace of the circadian rhythm. In the kitchen, they forewent a dining table, knowing that they would most frequently share meals together at the island. At the home’s perimeter, landscaping was intentionally omitted, replaced instead with gravel hardscape – a buffer between inside and outside that would play the critical role of keeping ticks out and keeping the interior environment as clean and pure as possible.
In living simply and recentering priorities, the young couple’s new home represents a fresh start and a place to heal. With deep appreciation for life and health, and gratitude for the ability to build and live in their dream home, the pair is able to enjoy the splendor of their idyllic surroundings while looking toward the future with strength, resilience, and optimism.