The Tonic of “Wildness”

With a focus on local, natural and environmentally responsible materials, a young family's dream home comes to life.

“We need the tonic of wildness … At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

The 4,000-square-foot post-and-beam home of the Prokupets family in Mendon captures nature both inside and out. Built on 100 rural acres, the home’s many-windowed walls, balconies and screened-in porches provide barely-there boundaries between creature comforts inside and the wild outdoors.

Dan and Beth Prokupets, avid environmentalists, started planning their house four years ago with Ty Allen, designer at New Energy Works Timberframers in Farmington. “We had a high-level vision, and we all worked carefully to plan right down to the small details,” explains Beth. Dan, Beth and their three children moved into their completed home last year.

From the start, the goal was to use natural, local materials as much as possible, and to harvest them using eco-conscious and sustainable methods. Dan, a professional forester with Scotsville-based WoodWise Land Company and Genesee Valley Timber and Stone, meticulously selected wood and stone from his forest and quarry. Other raw materials, such as the white oak for the porch posts, came right from the Mendon property.

White pine was used for the frame, and the floors are hickory. The front door, beds, vanities, counters and more, were handcrafted by NEWwoodworks, of Shortsville, mostly of walnut and butternut. The mantle of the 12-foot fieldstone fireplace was made from the same walnut tree used for some of the counters.

The garage, along with a newly built recreational barn, is sided with reclaimed antique barn wood sourced by New Energy Works’ sister company Pioneer Millworks.

The barn features a second-floor basketball court, a balcony and a catwalk cigar room.

Throughout the home, an earthy palette of colors and the combination of wood and stone creates harmony with the natural surroundings. “The Sheldon Slate countertops in my kitchen are just beautiful,” says Beth. “And practical – they’re so easy to maintain.” (Slate countertops are completely nonporous which makes them antibacterial, too.)

An open plan on the first floor keeps the kitchen, dining areas and great room connected, yet spatially defined, points out Ty Allen. Also on the first floor is a guest bedroom and bath, along with a pantry, wine room and mudroom. Each of the four bedrooms upstairs is accompanied by a full bath.

The home is heated and cooled with a geo-thermal system for high energy efficiency. It’s enclosed in a Matrix wall system with structural insulated panels. The giant fireplace in the great room was built by KB Masonry of Lyons.

Against its backdrop of greenery and forest, the house offers beautiful views inside and out. “My favorite place, when I have some quiet time, is our covered porch in the back of the house,” Beth told me this fall. “It’s a great place to sit and watch the birds.”

ABOUT NEW ENERGY WORKS

New Energy Works Timberframers in Farmington employs nearly 100 designers, timber-wrights, engineers and craftspeople to create some of the most lyrical and efficient timber frames in the industry. For more information, visit www.newenergyworks.com.


by Lori Bottorf Petrie