Westchester Magazine's collaboration with Murphy Brothers Contracting, area designers, and vendors resulted in not only a dream home, but a green one.
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Photography by Phillp Ennis
Front entrance off porch.
Sparkling chandeliers, Venetian plaster, marble countertops, flat-screen televisions, and a home theater—a peek inside Westchester Magazine’s DreamHome in Armonk (the culmination of a partnership with area builders, designers, and businesses) reveals every furnishing, appliance, amenity, and décor treatment you could ever wish for. But what may not be as obvious at first glance is that this dream home is also a green home. More than 2,300 visitors to the DreamHome, opened this past May as a fundraiser for Open Door Family Medical Centers, got to see firsthand that it’s possible to decorate in an elegant and eco-friendly way.
Confirming that “green” and “dream” can coexist, Bedford-based architect and interior designer Carol Kurth says, “From eco-friendly paints and fabrics to green wall and floor coverings, pillows, and draperies, there are many different styles out there for pretty much every taste, and they can be absolutely beautiful and sophisticated.” Kurth, who accessorized several of the rooms in the DreamHome and has her own eco-friendly collection called OOCK, points out, “The days when everything looked like hippie macramé are long gone.”
According to a recent National Association of Home Builders/McGraw-Hill Construction survey, almost 40 percent of Americans who recently renovated their dwellings did so with at least some green products. Locally, Kurth says, requests for green design have significantly increased over the past two to three years, and “in the last year, it’s really been a hot topic—it seems the public is finally catching on.”
So what exactly is environmentally correct when it comes to home design? You might immediately think of those energy-saving squiggly light bulbs, but as can be seen in the DreamHome, green is so much more—it’s in the wood, glass, and paint as well as the plumbing fixtures and appliances, even in places in which you’d never suspect it (but you’ll have to read on to find out!). Just as important, these elements not only are friendly to the environment but also to the eyes.
Take, for example, the wood in the DreamHome, in which more than 18,000 board feet of salvaged oak was used to create the hardwood floors in the foyer, kitchen, and family room. The “vintage” wood was stained a deep, warm brown, creating a beautiful patina and a “natural, timeless look that goes well with any style,” says Hochstin Design Group’s Stacy Hochstin, who worked (in conjunction with her partner, Julie Hochstin) with the builders, designers, and Westchester Magazine to create a cohesive look throughout the DreamHome. “The more the wood ages, the more beautiful it is. It really has a soul to it.”
Not just for floors, reclaimed wood also can be used on kitchen countertops as a striking alternative for granite, marble, or Corian. The DreamHome’s four-inch-thick, antique white oak center island was salvaged from a recently demolished upstate New York grain mill built in the late 19th century. “The island’s hand-hammered black iron accents on the corners look like straps from an old steamer chest,” says Diane Murphy, chief designer for Murphy Brothers Contracting, the company that built the 7,100-square-foot DreamHome. “In fact, the countertop was inspired by a Louis Vuitton trunk.”
Additional wood from the old grain mill was used to create ceiling beams, adding warmth and architectural detail to both the family room and master bedroom suite’s sitting area. And again, wood makes a statement in the lower level entertainment room, where the 1,250-bottle wine cellar door was made from reclaimed wood from the mill.
In addition to using salvaged wood, wood grown using eco-friendly practices is another option that can “green up” a home’s décor. Take the taupe-colored Rutt kitchen cabinets expertly crafted from wood that came from a well-managed forest or the handsome American Artisan X-base table and coordinating sideboard in the dining room. According to David Connolly, partner at Landau Ethan Allen in Hartsdale, “The furniture is made from Appalachian pine that comes from a sustainable forest in North Carolina.” He adds, “There is a water-based finish on the furniture instead of traditional lacquer, making it an environmentally responsible project.”