Raven Beach: Luxurious “Contemporary Camp” Home in the Vermont Woods

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Thirty-three years ago, architect Milford Cushman and his wife, Terry Gregory, purchased a former government-funded pine tree farm in Vermont and built a small home for $36,000. Primarily constructed by hand using affordable materials and measuring just 900 square feet, the home may have been humble, but it was also infused with the couple’s love and respect for the land. Over the next two decades, they expanded the house itself and added four outbuildings, including a pottery studio, a two-car garage and storage structures.

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Before long, Gregory joined her husband at Cushman Design Group, one of Vermont’s foremost architecture firms. All of their experience designing everything from tiny cabins and vernacular barns to modern farmhouses came in handy by 2010, when they decided to renovate their home. The result is a tranquil oasis clad in locally sourced Eastern White Pine, chosen to honor the couple’s commitment to sustainability. Many of the other materials are reclaimed or recycled.

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The home, officially named Raven Beach for the birds Cushman and Gregory spotted on the land when they first moved in, now measures 2,300 square feet. Its palettes of colors and materials pay homage to classic Vermont camps in the woods, but elevated and modernized for comfortable contemporary living.

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Winner of first place in Fine Homebuilding’s 2015 Reader’s Choice Awards and recipient of a 5 Star Plus Energy Star rating, the Hyde Park home on over 10 acres is now for sale through Pall Spera Realtors.

Classic Cottages Made Modern: Stylish Wood in Vermont

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This group of beautiful cottages on the Marlboro College campus in Vermont take visual cues from the college’s traditional architecture, echoing centuries of Vermont traditions, while updating them for the modern era. Designed by HGA Architects, the cottages provide cozy and comfortable housing for classical musicians who come to collaborate with students during a seven-week summer festival.

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Located on a 15-acre site adjacent to the campus, the five cottages feature an archetypal chimney-topped gable shape that has been seen in the New England countryside since it was first settled by the British. Outside, thin horizontal strips of wood in varying shades give the cottages visual interest and dimension.

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Inside, they’re constructed almost entirely of local Eastern White Pine and Vermont slate. Long pine beams stretch up to the apex of the high ceiling, the simplicity of the naturally finished wood paying tribute to the tradition of rustic cabins yet feeling very fresh, open and modern.

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Large operable windows open up the cabins to the outdoors, providing the perfect place to soak up a little inspiration before creating a musical masterpiece.

Beautiful White Pine Gambrel Barn-Style Home by Vermont Timberworks

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Inspired by gambrel barns, a classic rural silhouette favored by American dairy farmers during the 20th century, this Eastern White Pine timber frame home has a classic New England country feel with beautiful details like the twin glassed cupolas rising from the roof. Vermont Timber Works collaborated with contractor Mark Jupiter to create this hand-hewn spec house located in Hunter, New York.

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The house is “cut from native material and hewn the old-fashioned way with an adze and slick,” explains Vermont Timber Works. The project uses traditional wood joinery. The warm, welcoming feeling captured on the exterior continues inside, where the rustic white pine beams are paired with contemporary cabinetry.

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Interested in seeing how this project came together? Vermont Timber Works offers downloadable files including plans, profiles and details, and even a rotatable 3D image of the frame.

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“Pine is a very stable wood,” says the company of this particular wood choice. “It has a good straight grain, can be easily stained, planes well, and is a great wood for hand hewing. Because it is less expensive than douglas fir, it is often used for residential timber frames.”

Charming Vermont-Made, Ready-to-Ship Eastern White Pine Cottages

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The beautiful and impeccably crafted small structures built by the Jamaica Cottage Shop can function as play houses, freestanding backyard offices, sheds, bunk houses or simply extra living space. All of the designs are hand made in Vermont using native rough-sawn, full-dimensioned lumber grown, harvested and milled within the region – including siding made of kiln-dried Eastern White Pine.

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You can get anything from a basic cabin or cute cottage with a mini front porch to a screened-in Florida Room, which offers an insect-free outdoor getaway. These little buildings are available in three forms: kits, plans, or fully assembled.

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If you live in the Northeast, having a fully assembled building shipped right to your door is a convenient option, while those who live farther away can follow a set of detailed step-by-step instructions to either assemble the shipped parts, or use the plans to have their own materials procured locally.

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Putting together an 8×10 Vermont cabin takes just about 20 hours, and can be done at any skill level. The precut lumber package includes pre-dimensioned siding, precut roofing sections, trim, windows and ready-to-install doors. Some kits even include vintage 1800s factory salvaged windows. Check out the whole selection at Jamaica Cottage Shop.

Architectural Monographs: Old Time Churches of Vermont

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The architect author of this historic monograph, written in 1927, didn’t think much of colonial architecture – or rather, didn’t really think of it at all – until he designed a colonial-inspired structure of his own. It was then that he discovered the particular character of the styles from that era, and in fact, fell in love with the region he was born in for the first time.

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Asked to write about the churches of Vermont for this issue, the author says they speak for themselves. “Simple, straightforward, not particularly well proportioned, some of them, and a little too plain and severe, perhaps, to our modern eyes; more meeting houses than churches, more practical than architectural in the treatment of the gallery windows; still they are full of the character of New England and all show evidences of thought and loving care in the building of them.”

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The Puritanism of the builders may have prevented any of the Gothic flourishes or extravagant stained glass seen in churches of other time periods and places, but like most other colonial architecture, these churches have a quiet charm that fits right into the countryside of New England.

Read more and see additional photos at the White Pine Monograph Library.

Eastern White Pine Timbers at the Deer Lake Scout Camp, Vermont

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Strong, economical and full of character, Eastern White Pine is a popular choice for traditional timber frame architecture, a style that’s experiencing a renaissance as interest grows in both sustainability and the charm of wood. This example highlights some beautiful, towering Eastern White Pine timbers in the Deer Lake Scout Camp in Vermont.

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Vermont Timber Works collaborated with Bismark Construction and Huestis Tucker Architects, LLC to create this vast timber-framed hall complete with a large stone fireplace and a striking rustic chandelier.

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Eastern White Pine structures like this one are especially common in the Northeast, where the trees grow in abundance. Architecture firms, designers and builders with an eye on sustainability like Eastern White Pine not only because it’s local and thus less expensive and carbon-intensive to ship, but also for its beauty, and the way that it’s grown.

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Planning for a healthy continued harvest into the future and keeping the local ecosystem in balance are among the benefits of the natural mixed forests in which Eastern White Pine is grown. Learn more about why Eastern White Pine is a green choice in wood building projects.