Quannum

image 4

This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe

This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe
This Travel Writer Ordered Her Upstate House Prefabricated From Europe

image

“Back then it literally was like, ‘Well, what can we afford and what seems interesting?’” Yolanda Edwards says of her upstate prefab home—and a plight to which many of us can relate. The travel writer, creative director, and founder of Yolo Journal along with her husband, author and editor Matt Hranek itched for a New York City refuge about two decades ago—before their whereabouts weren’t quite so transient. With a limited budget, they chose a plot of land in Sullivan County, New York, then essentially mail-ordered a house from Austria. Nestled in the middle of an idyllic pasture, the final result is a modern wood and glass home contrasted by its contents—a small selection of the world travelers’ collections. (Edwards and Hranek also maintain residences in Brooklyn, Italy, and France, though more often than not they are traveling somewhere even more obscure).

When the two magazine veterans purchased the 130 acres of land, that’s all it was—land. For years, Edwards and Hranek lived out of an airstream—with no shower—when they were there. “For a whole two summers, we would basically go upstate and then swim in the pond and you just didn’t have clean hair,” she recounts. “And it was fun. It was elevated camping.” Eventually, their desperation for a true bathroom grew. They conceived a bath house, which then evolved into a cabin-style bedroom with a porch. There, they lived for another year.

Finally, the globe trotters channeled this resourceful spirit into a lasting structure. Luckily, Hranek developed a friendship with architect Oscar Kaufmann on assignment in Austria with Wallpaper*. Their initial dream house proved too expensive to build, but Kaufmann, a sort of prefab specialist, helped them to create something of a similar vein and then literally shipped it pre-fabricated to its final destination in upstate New York. “He sent us a little sketch,” recounts Edwards, “and it was exactly what was in our mind.” Inspired by minimalist architects like Craig Ellwood and [Richard] Neutra, they created a house that is “essentially a shoebox, up on a foundation with glass windows on the front,” she describes. “It’s simple and restrained.”

The aesthetically inclined couple juxtaposed the modernist outside with a more eclectic approach to curation within. “From the outside, it looks like a spaceship in this field,” says Edwards. “It is more of a clinical space when you are looking from the outside, but then when you’re in, you want it to feel reflective of all of the things you love.” The house is brimming with collections—antlers, porcupine quills, ceramics, and lots and lots of books. “It almost verges on hoarding.” But Edwards still keeps the assortment rather edited—the space is too small not to. For this reason, the house’s design remains rather untouched. But “it’s not just a crash pad,” Edwards argues. “It’s a place we go and we actually cook meals and we put up the hammock and play badminton and go on walks,” she says. “We,” meaning herself, her husband, their daughter when she’s home from college, and their Jack Russell Terrier Prune. “When we’re there,” concludes the jetsetter, “we really enjoy it.”

image

“We ended up spending a lot of time in Austria once we started that process with Oscar. He’s in this corner of Austria that’s quite close to Zurich. In that area, there’s an amazing, impressive roster of [niche] architects. You drive around and there’s definitely the really charming, classic architecture that you would expect of a mountain town in Austria. But then, there are all of these brilliant, modernist houses that fit seamlessly into that landscape. There’s also a lot of really great furniture designers; Oscar’s quite close with a lot of these artisans. And one of them is this woodworker and he just does the most beautiful work and he does a lot for Peter Zumthor. So we became friends with this guy and he was like, ‘Well when they’re sending over the container with your house, if you want to get the cabinetry or a table or whatever…’”

image

“The rest of the furniture was from eBay or things we found. Matt’s mom comes from Binghamton, and Binghamton was the home of IBM. In the ’60s you had all this great design because there was so much money up there and there were people who cared about design. Then IBM left, so there are a ton of old furniture stores that have [a great offering]. We picked up a lot of stuff for not a lot of money and got our couch from eBay—came from Texas.”

image

image

“We collect porcupine quills and feathers. We walk the property all the time and we save nests. I don’t keep the nest inside the house usually, but I have them in the barn. We have collections of match strikes. It almost verges on hoarding.”

image

“We kind of ordered the house. It was almost like a menu and we designed it with Oscar. But because it was prefabricated we could say, ‘Oh, we want it to be these European oak walls.’ If we had made it a completely minimalist space with everything in the same spirit as the house, I think it would’ve felt much more monastic. That’s not really who we are. The space is strong in and of itself so we needed something warmer.”

image

“We were desperate to have a proper bathroom. We conceived of this bath house. Matt’s brother is an industrial designer and he’s super handy. And Matt wanted a Japanese tub. He figured something out and we made this little bathhouse and which then became a bedroom as well and a porch. It’s a little one room cabin that we lived out of for another year.”

image

“We were in love with Craig Ellwood and obviously [Richard] Neutra. We shared that love for that aesthetic. We had a bookstore Upstate near Matt’s mom’s house that we would go to and—this is so pre-Google—we would find all of these books on tropical architecture, just amazing resources. When we ended up with this land, Matt sent [Kaufmann] pictures of our inspiration. He sent us a sketch and it was exactly what was in our mind. The house is essentially a shoebox. It’s up on a foundation with glass windows in the front. It’s simple and restrained and really about being a sort of window box in nature. It’s the antidote to city life.”

image

“The only [collection] came into the house as soon as we had it was our ceramics. Then [the rest came] little by little.”

image

“The antler wall definitely was something that was in boxes before. The coffee table just keeps getting taller with books. It’s a problem; we can’t even see over the coffee table. We definitely like to collect—it’s a blessing and a curse. I have mixed feelings about it. I think we both love the action of the discovery and we love the saving of the thing. Then there’s a part of me that feels like we need a store.”

image

“No matter what the season is, I go out and I get some kind of something to make an arrangement with. I’m always justifying why I need that one more vase. And we also are always finding stuff. We don’t buy stuff new; it’s always from a garage sale or something. We’re just the next caretakers of the thing that already exists.”

image

“It is more of a clinical space when you are looking from the outside, but then when you’re in, you want it to feel reflective of all of the things you love. I don’t think it’s [fully] a hodgepodge. I think we just weren’t self conscious about it. If we like it, it works. We didn’t furnish it immediately; we kind of lived with things. We didn’t ever storyboard, like ‘what do we want this house to look like?’ It was pre Pinterest.”

image

“I think that the Upstate house for me is always going to have this super, strong pull because it’s the most consistent. When we’re there, we’re not ever thinking like, ‘Oh, we should redo this or that.’ It’s a small enough house, there’s nothing you can do. It just is what it is.”

image

“No matter what the season is, I go out and I get some kind of something to make an arrangement with. I’m always justifying why I need that one more vase. And we also are always finding stuff. We don’t buy stuff new; it’s always from a garage sale or something. We’re just the next caretakers of the thing that already exists.”

image

“We saw [this property] on the worst, most freezing, cold day. And it still was beautiful.”

image

“Officially, we are New Yorkers who have a strong itch to be elsewhere.”

Want more stories like this?

Inside the Novel Home of Atlanta-Based Designer Ann Mashburn
Interiors Photographer Read McKendree On What Makes the Most Beautiful Spaces
Interior Design Accounts That Actually Showcase Attainable Spaces



Leave a Reply