The Floating Farmhouse by Tom Givone

The Floating Farmhouse by Tom Givone

Nestled on the edge of a creek west of the Catskill Mountains in the US is this 200-year-old restored retreat called the “Floating Farmhouse”, resuscitated by Tom Givone, a self-taught designer.

Former advertising copywriter and now architectural designer (cheekily gives credit for his roundabout career to the “quintessentially awful” landlord who ejected him from a rent-stabilized studio in the late ’90s, which spurred his first home purchase) Tom Givone -who bought the place back in 2002- designed the restorating of the The Floating Farmhouse, a 3600 square foot charming 1820 manor home, located in Eldred, New York, USA. Sited at the edge of a pristine creek, with a waterfall cascading over an ancient dam of hand-laid stone, the Floating Farmhouse was almost literally a sinking ship, when first discovered. After a design and rebuild process spanning 4 consecutive years, the 1820 manor home is now a study in contrasts: fully restored to its period grandeur while featuring purely modernist elements, including a curtain wall of skyscraper glass in the kitchen, polished concrete and steel finishes, minimalist interiors, and a cantilevered porch “floating” on the surface of the water.

The comely abode was rejuvenated with a melange of new, recycled and found materials. One big, bright windowed side is comprised of 7m tall skyscraper glass. Its original cedar roof shingles are displayed on the walls in the master bedroom and the hallway of the guest bedroom. Eleven giant pine trees overwhelming the property were chopped down and milled to provide the custom woodwork, like the wainscoting, door and window trim. Plus the main attraction: the 4m by 15m inviting covered porch, which languishes atop the creek.

Givone categorizes the Floating Farmhouse not as an experiment in greening but as an exercise in responsible building; its low carbon footprint was cast back in the 1820s, when the home was built with local materials, delivered by horse and wagon, and fashioned by hand. Such a sensitive restoration-meets-renovation pays homage to that past, both aesthetically and environmentally.





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