Out of the Woods Farm

Check out this magical property!

Main house entry

My wife and I spent the first 10 years of marriage in Putnam, NY.  As an architect and also owning a growing construction company, we were soon fortunate to be living in a house I designed and built, situated 10 miles from the Garrrison estate, where our horses were stabled. We had always wanted a place with enough land to have a barn and keep our own horses, and after a long search found our current property, where we have lived now (with our horses) for nearly 17 years.  Newtown has turned out to be a perfect choice for us and a wonderful town. Our dream was to design our “happily ever after” home, and we believe we have achieved that.
When we took possession of Aunt Park Lane, we inherited a main house along with a pool, cottage and barn, all beautifully situated to each other and with views to the pond at its center. We also inherited a catchy name for our estate, the “Out of the Woods Farm,” which we still keep today. The buildings have an old Tudor flavor, which both Steff and I embraced as Old World, a timeless look that we wanted to maintain. While the style and feel of the house worked well, little else did. The house was built in the early ‘70s with more than its share of dated finishes and shortcuts.  The “stucco” exterior walls, for example, were in fact Masonite paneling, and the interior finishes, kitchen, etc., were quite tired. Within a few years of settling in, I began plans on converting the house to our vision. By 2012 we moved ourselves, two cats and two dogs into the recently renovated guest cottage so we could begin to put the new house plans into action. In the end, our dreams had very little of the existing house remaining. A couple of stone walls and one front room of the existing first floor were all that was original of the house, with all finishes and mechanicals replaced and a new layout that worked for just the two of us.
Consequently, a six-bedroom house became a three-bedroom house. The living spaces were designed so that each room flowed into the other while also having unique qualities of their own. A traditional Tudor tends to be darker, with low ceilings, smaller spaces and liberal use of wood paneling. We both liked that intimate feel and rich finish, but at the same time, we wanted to make exceptions in the new house design.   For example, we added a bright skylight-lit kitchen with 10-foot ceilings.  When visitors walk into the kitchen, they are in awe of the brightness and view of the sky.
 There are many features of the house that go beyond the need for shelter and answer to more specific wishes we had for our “Forever House”:
  1. The connection to the outdoors:  Our first floor has eight sets of doors, all within one or two steps to the outside. Even the second floor has a master terrace off the bedroom (where we set up our birdfeeders and a massive lounge chair) and another off the master bath.
  2. Highly textured interior finishes:  While we did not engage an interior designer for any part of the design, I used my architectural training to create my own décor by creating interesting and unique finishes, paneled walls (wood reclaimed from an old water tower), custom mahogany doors, designed built-ins for the entry closets, a bar with a humidor built in, paneled dining room walls with candle wall sconces, Old World iron gates separating the dining area to the living room, custom stairs, TV cabinetry, even the powder room has cabinetry with lit pockets for displaying pieces of art. These built-ins all have exacting detail to serve their intended purpose while at the same time creating a focus to a room or hallway.  By default, they become the decoration that would otherwise be provided by an artwork or piece of furniture. There are stone walls taken from outside that drift from outside the dining room and run throughout the house.   These walls separate the traditional, heavier parts of the house from the lighter, brighter kitchen and den beyond.
  3. Accommodate the changing of the seasons: We designed a winter as well as a summer bedroom. In the winter, our bedroom is on the second floor with a sunlit terrace overlooking the pond.  There is one bath with a soaking tub (the walls are glittered white with a chandelier and crystals along the window to create a dreamlike fairytale atmosphere) and a second large stone shower with a second terrace and a shared master closet leading out from there. This bedroom, while still having some dark paneling for evening warmth, has a full view of the kitchen solarium and windows and door to the terrace, getting natural light from dawn to dusk all year. Around mid-May, we migrate to our summer bedroom, located on the first floor on the shaded north side of the house, with its own walk-in closet and a smaller single bath. Cool and darker in summer, this bedroom also features doors leading to a terrace and outdoor shower that is one of the best parts of the summer.
  4. There is a feeling of Old World when one first enters the house: a foyer with fireplace and seating for just two or four people. Perfect setting in the winter for a glass of wine and a board game.
  5. A bright kitchen with plenty of space for entertaining: The solarium brings in the outdoors year-round; the large island with bench seating is the focal point between the cooking and cleaning stations and the parson breakfast table for informal dining with friends.
  6. Convenience: The laundry is directly off the closet, the very large pantry separates the kitchen from the house garage, the outdoor wood oven and entertainment are one step and a few feet from the kitchen sink and stove, and there is extra closet space behind hidden panels for ample storage without the overkill of hallway doors everywhere in the house.
  7. Comfort through our old age:   Very tight, high-efficiency heat, and our old reclaimed stone floors have radiant heat. Even the master shower floor, bench and walls had radiant heat installed for comfort all winter with steam shower. The skylight adds brightness and helps my plants grow. Spray foam insulation encloses the entire house.
  8. Use of natural and reclaimed materials: The stone floors were 120-year limestone courtyards imported from Europe and repurposed for the entry, kitchen, powder room and master bath. All the stone used in the interior was collected from the property, and the wood floors are given a rough texture to add to their beauty. All walls were done in plaster with the color pre-added to the mix and given a wax polish finish. The stucco on the exterior is a Japanese product that uses straw and natural clay to create the texture and color. The roof is hand-slit wood shakes, the gutters copper.
  9. Designed exterior spaces: Our entertaining patio lies just outside the kitchen between the house and the pool. An old crabapple tree takes center stage, providing shade over the dining table and year-round interest for the view from the kitchen. A stone retaining wall with built-in fireplace and a wood-burning oven complete the space. Off the dining room is a granite patio for occasional al fresco dining, and a covered porch on the north side of the house, a remnant from the original house, is the perfect spot for summer evenings.
  10. The cottage has been renovated to serve as a home office, den and an additional guest suite when we have visitors.  Its exterior stucco matches the main house exterior.
Terry Lennon has been a licensed architect since 1990, focusing primarily on residential design. Over the last three decades, he has been exposed to a variety of architectural styles and learning the best qualities of each.  He works these styles into his designs, whether for an addition, a remodel, an existing home or as an inspiration for a new home.

 Terry has also benefited from being the owner of his own construction company, which allows him to provide a full-service architectural/build design for his clients and inevitably learn a certain amount of practicality by dealing with both the design process and the implementation of its construction.

 His last 30 years were equally split between living in the Westchester residence and now, having moved to Newtown, CT, approximately 15 years ago, he has opened up an office in Ridgefield Court.
You can contact Terry at 914-276-0225 or visit his website, http://buildersatelier.net/, to learn more.