These Homes Give New Meaning To Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle

Pocono Mountains Home: This company-welcoming dining table is fashioned from a diving board discovered at a yard sale, with legs made from ceiling beams retrieved from a dumpster in Brooklyn. Photo by Matthew Maderic.

Repurposing and upcycling? Architects Lauren Lochry and Jeff Gillway – principals of the Brooklyn-based design studio, Ridge House – are fans of the vernacular, the stuff with history. They have no trouble combing garage sales for a solid oak table or outfitting a kitchen with dishes your mother couldn’t give away. But don’t think for a minute that these two are trafficking in Salvation Army style. Whether in the country cabins they’ve transformed into stylish rentals, or in their own home and studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the couple’s interiors evince an unstudied authenticity, with rooms that appear to have evolved as much by chance as by design.

Pocono Mountains Home: A secondhand sofa sourced in Brooklyn is right at home with the cabin’s original Malm fireplace from the 1960s.

“We’re all about materiality, texture and character,” explains Gillway, “and our raw, rustic aesthetic leads us quite naturally into sustainability. We want to reuse as much material as we can, to keep things out of the landfill and reduce the carbon footprint of making something new.” Lochry and Gillway outfitted an A-frame chalet in the Poconos with a mix of furnishings, from Shaker pieces to a ’70s sofa. In another retreat, an old, oval sewing table serves as a sideboard in a dining room populated with a mix of humble wooden kitchen chairs. “The history of a place, the site, is important to us,” relates Lochry, “so we try to source things locally and create a kind of narrative that is an expression of where the property is.”

Brooklyn Loft: A Nelson-style bench, lighting à la Serge Mouille and a bureau from Jeff’s great-aunt form a midcentury tableau in the couple’s Brooklyn home.

Their fondness for eclectic vernacularism, suggests Gillway, is a reaction to the “cold” modernism espoused at Arizona State, where the two studied architecture. “Also,” adds Lochry, “you’re constantly making models in school and dealing with materials, and I think that led us to really love things that are crafted and not machine-made.”

Brooklyn Loft: A constellation of vintage liquor bottles sit atop an antique Chinese medicine cabinet.

In addition to scouring estate sales, Lochry and Gillway source product from local ceramists and woodworkers. And when it comes to the heavy lifting, the two have no trouble being their own contractor. They’ve done complete gut renovations on their country properties and risked busting a gut to get things just right. “In one house,” shares Gillway, “we wanted a big farmhouse sink and decided to cast it out of concrete ourselves. It weighed 290 pounds and took four people to get into place.”

Brooklyn Loft: Lauren and Jeff designed the commodious cubby to house their cherished ceramics collection.

With respect to their Brooklyn digs – a 1,000-square-foot loft in a former factory – “We practice what we preach,” notes Gillway. “The previous tenant had built out a whole second floor with weird staircases, none of it to code. We tore up the whole interior and made a bedroom that pretty much just fit our bed. We left the rest of it as just a big open studio space, where we restore our vintage furniture and have clients in to see what we are doing.”

Brooklyn Loft: The hardwood floor and walnut credenza create a warm counterpart to the home’s essentially minimalist air.

For all its vintage vibe, the high-ceiling space, with its massive windows, looks very contemporary, thanks to the couple’s minimalist approach and the artful disposition of their furnishings. “We are much more interested in texture rather than something polished,” remarks Gillway. “That goes for a small object, as well as a building.”

Brooklyn Loft: Craigslist finds – two sleek sofas and a reproduction Eames chair – define the living room of the wide-open loft.

For more like this project from Ridge House, be sure to check out this country cottage in Poland.

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