Traditional Building Portfolio
Palladio Awards

Project: Residence, Rhode Island

Architect: Sachs Lindores, New York, NY; Kevin Lindores, AIA, and Daniel Sachs, partners in charge

Contractor: Kirby Perkins Construction, Middletown, RI

Interior Designer: Sachs Lindores, New York, NY


New Design & Construction – more than 5,000 sq.ft.
Winner: Sachs Lindores

Shingle Inspiration

By Lynne Lavelle

For the New York, NY-based firm Sachs Lindores, the first time is a charm. Since 2001, founders Daniel Sachs and Kevin Lindores have built a reputation for their interior work, which they have applied to a wide variety of apartment and house renovations. So it is "quite a surprise," according to Lindores, to receive a Palladio Award for the first house the firm has ever designed from the ground up – an 8,500-sq.ft. Shingle Style residence in Rhode Island.

Set on two acres of farmland and a vineyard, the house was designed to appear as if built in the 19th century. Two adjoining gables are intersected by a third, all tied together by a wraparound porch and broken up by two towers, one semicircular and the other rectangular. It is perhaps the most traditional design in Sachs Lindores' portfolio, which includes projects completed in a wide range of styles, such as a modern renovation of a typical New York brownstone and a Bohemian interpretation of an Upper East Side apartment. "Being from New York, we've done a lot of interior work and it informs our architecture," says Lindores. "I'm an architect, and Daniel trained as an artist and has a really great knowledge of the history of art and design. I'd say this house is a little more traditional than we have previously done but we really loved working on it."

The site is part of a working farm that has been partially developed, but still maintains an orchard and fields. One of the covenants amongst the owners is that all houses must be of a certain size and built in the Shingle Style, and purchase documents go so far as to reference the work of McKim, Mead & White. The clients were so impressed by the site that they also purchased an adjacent lot, which turned out to be an important investment, as the community board approved a larger main house in exchange for a stipulation that a future guest property would be considerably smaller. "When the farm was for sale the adjacent neighbors, who are actually architects, were afraid that it would be subdivided into many small lots," says Lindores, "so they came up with the idea of developing the land by putting it into conservancy and then selling 10 two- to three-acre lots within the farmland.

"We were excited by the site. It's an absolutely beautiful spot that slopes down to a nearby river."

In addition to McKim, Mead & White, the firm looked to C.F.A. Voysey, Edwin Lutyens and American architect John Calvin Stevens for inspiration. While the initial approach was to create the impression that the house had expanded over time, concerns about scale led to a rethink. "We didn't want this to be a 'McMansion' in a field," says Lindores. "A main road goes by the farm and we didn't want it to feel like an enormous house. There were several large rooms and the client wanted 14-ft. ceilings on the first floor and 12-ft. ceilings on the second floor. We wanted to compress the building as much as we could, so in the end I don't think it does feel evolved over time."

To create the perception of a smaller house, Lindores continued the second floor roof lines to the ground floor and used dormers to add space without increasing volume. The wraparound porch extends the house into the landscape, while the integrated porches and windows break down the massing. "In determining how to come to terms with the form of this big house we looked back at a lot of 19th-century houses," he says. "And I think many of them were actually more considered than they appeared. They weren't necessarily expanded over time – just really well thought out and pieced together in a deceptively casual way."

Unlike their architect influences from the 19th century, Sachs Lindores had to address hurricane codes in the design. The prevalence of wall-to-wall windows posed a challenge as there was no room for shear walls. But, with the help of master carpenter Henry Cassese of Newport, RI, locations were found for vertical steel members. "We started the design process before the hurricane codes took effect," says Lindores. "Henry was really terrific. For him, the puzzle of figuring it all out was something he seemed to enjoy. It was tricky but it all worked out in the end, though the contractor did say that there was more steel in this house than in any other they had built."

From the double-height main entry hall the house is divided into two halves; formal spaces such as the library and living room are to the left, while the right side is dominated by less formal spaces, such as a front-to-back kitchen and adjacent dining room. The second floor is divided into a children's wing to the left, and master and guest suites to the right, while the third floor contains an open dormitory/attic. Throughout, the interiors reflect the clients' interest in English and European antique furniture and decorative arts, from English Arts and Crafts lanterns to period sinks with restored faucets and custom reproduction door hardware. All were sourced by the firm. "Pretty much everything was bought specifically for this house," says Lindores. "And much of it, such as the dining room table, several fireplaces, various antiques and vintage tile and stone, was purchased early on in the process, so we knew what we were dealing with while designing the house."

Among the most distinctive features in the house are two Lutyens-inspired custom staircases. In the center of the house, the main stair is set in the entry hall and features a window seat at the landing. "It's a little bolder than you typically see these days – it has a really hefty balustrade, rail and spindles," says Lindores.

The kitchen's semicircular space, with a curved window and eight-ft.-dia. round dining table was a rare opportunity for Lindores. "It's something that has been in my head for years," he says. "I've always wanted to do that. We found that we could get double-glazed curved glass and the millwork shop had the engineering capability to make it work, so we designed the room back from that." The windows are weight-and-chain double-hung, and the table and chairs were designed and custom built to suit the space.

Each room was extensively detailed with paneling, millwork, fittings, fixtures and furniture. Materials for the project were sourced far and wide: from Paris, hardware by Rémy Garnier, wood floors by Ateliers Perrault and light fixtures by Galerie des Lampes; from London, light fixtures by Jamb Ltd. and Robert Kime, and fireplaces by Jamb Ltd., Drummonds and Nicholas Gifford Mead; and in New York City, hardware by E.R. Butler and custom brass fixtures by Brasslab. Stairs were supplied by Somerset, MA-based Cooper Stairworks.  



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