Ghent, New York

Located in the woods near the owner’s main house, this one-room personal retreat is sculptural and abstract in its form, but traditional in use of materials. The client, a scientist, wanted open views out to the corners so that from his desk looking south to the fireplace, he could see the full expanse of his property.

Design concept and solution:
From the visual softness of the shadows cast on the matte black cedar siding to the directness of the forms and surfaces, everything was carefully designed to create a place of serenity. As a single coherent building, the 550-square-foot structure, with an 11-foot-high ceiling, features minimalist detailing and large glass panels with open corners that challenge the simple reading of the studio as a mere box-like volume. No steel was used in any of the cantilevered corners making it possible for local carpenters to easily accomplish the job. A lower area, housing a window seat and bookshelf, protrudes from the basic volume on the east. The fenestration pattern is highly nuanced, for viewing from specific vantage points within and outside the structure. The entry window aligns with the upper south window accentuating the reading of the east wall as a separate plane. During harsh upstate New York winters, the fireplace becomes both the heart and the visual focus of the room.

The exterior is cedar, stained black in both 8-inch-long boards and 2-inch-long slats. Custom roof scuppers and edging are copper. A band of local river stones along the building base separates it from the forest floor, a feature reflected in the fireplace surround. Inside, the walnut wood cladding wraps onto the walls on the east and south. Local cleft-face black slate is used for the fireplace hearth. Next to the fireplace, the wood storage, accessed from a hidden exterior door, allows wood to be placed directly inside without carrying it through the room. Bathroom walls are also clad with black slate, and the bathroom sink is custom-designed in solid walnut with a slatted surface bringing water to a recessed drain inside the wall so that no piping is visible. A low- velocity air system cools and heats only the lower areas of the main room. Walnut floors are polished to a mirror finish bringing dappled, tree-filtered light into the room.

Total construction cost: $200,000


Dr. Jeffrey Ravetch

Cooper Joseph Studio
500 Park Avenue 16E
New York, New York 10022
T 212.935.3392
F 212.935.3731

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA  Partner in charge

Architect of record
Same as above

Interior designer
Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA

Nat Oppenheimer
Robert Silman Associates – structural engineers

Peter Rolland, ASLA

Bob Hyland, Loomis Creek Nursery, New York

Rusty Dunbar, Dunbar Nursery, New York

Regency Lighting, NYC

General contractor
Jim Romanchuk & Sons

Elliott Kaufman Photography

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Vector Works



Structural system
Wood framing and siding

Exterior cladding
Cedar, stained matte black
8” boards and 2” slats with 3/8” reveals

Custom design architect

Custom, made to order

Sliding door hardware:
Barn Door

Front Door Hardware:
C.R. Laurence Co., stainless steel pivot hinges

Interior finishes
Fireplace surround:
Zation Stone – River rocks, Ann Sacks

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:
Walnut slats for inside areas of wall,
Custom Walnut sliding doors

Paints and stains:
Interior: Decorator White, Benjamin Moore

Living areas:
Walnut floors with high gloss polish

Local black slate with a split face

Lounge Chairs:
Cassina: Tentazione by Mario Bellini lounge chairs in black leather

Desk chair
Cassina: Cab by Mario Bellini

Rug at entry
Brown Sisal rug with ribbon edging, Henschel, New York.

Desk: Custom design by Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA. Built in Claro Walnut by Ian Ingersoll, CT.

Side table: Custom design by Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA. Built in walnut veneer by Walter P. Sauer, Brooklyn, NY

Interior ambient lighting:
USA Illuminations – MR16 halogen

LED spots and bar lights at kitchen:
DGA Lighting

Bathroom Sink:
Custom design in walnut, by Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA executed by Jim Romanchuk

Bathroom Sink faucet:
Lacava - Suave

Shower controls:
Dornbracht - xTool

Dornbracht – “Just Rain”

Kohler – Rialto (black)

Julien “Urban Edge”

Sink Faucet:
Dornbracht – MARO

Sub-Zero under counter, Ref/Freezer with Ice machine, custom walnut panel

Espresso Machine:
La Spaziale S1  Mazzer “mini” Grinder