A retirement dream comes true: Post-and-beam beauty on cherished family location

Peggy DeYoung

Overlooking Clayton’s French Bay on Bartlett’s Point, this home is a retirement dream on a stretch of St. Lawrence River waterfront treasured by six generations of owners Rob and Sharron Grant’s family. The new home was built on the site of an original small cottage. When repairs became too great to tackle, it was torn down and plans for a new river home began.

The couple wanted to build a post-and-beam home, which would allow expansive views down river. They eventually decided to build a Lindal Cedar home. Lindal is based in Seattle and provides a package of building materials that includes posts and beams and windows and doors. Other materials were customized to the owners’ tastes and design needs and could be bought separately.

One of the first challenges was to determine if a full walk-out basement with a living space for their family and guests could be built. The sloping grass hill originally had 11 steps down to the water. The process not only revealed that there was enough height to build the walk-out basement, but just below the topsoil the site had beautiful limestone bedrock that is so prevalent along the river. The family now enjoys large areas of natural limestone defining the outdoor living space.

The living room has a soaring ceiling and angled prow windows that provide magnificent views down river and across the bay. The St. Lawrence River played a very significant and inspirational role in the design of this home. When confronted with the endless choices of building a home, the owner often took materials to the water’s edge to see how tones and colors mingled with natural shades of the river. The result is a careful blending of materials with nature.

Continuity continues into the interiors with slate flooring, soapstone countertops, knotty alder cabinetry and a blend of reclaimed red and white oak flooring in living spaces.
Function and durability were important when selecting furniture. A deep taupe leather sofa with lots of grain and texture was chosen for the living room. A favorite antique mission-style loveseat was recovered with Pendleton wool fabric.

“I kept returning to the deep blue grays of the river for fabric and rug selections in the bedrooms and loft” the owner said.

A retirement dream come true

They also found an antique hickory twig-style dining table and chairs at the Thousand Islands Art Center antique show. While lighting is too often taken for granted in building projects, the selection of lights are unique and blend with the arts-and-craft style. It’s one of the details that make this home special and personal.

Aside from a river view, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace is a focal point in open living areas. It called for a special mantel.

The owners found the solution in Mark Schwartz when visiting a rustic show in Alexandria Bay. Mr. Schwartz likes to work with local timber from newly felled trees or trees cut by power companies. For this mantel, he found the perfect cedar tree on the property that had been cut down during excavation. After letting the tree age, the bark was carefully removed to expose the character left by wrinkles under branch joints, worm holes and knots. Mr. Schwartz was also able to create a one-of-a-kind newel post and powder room vanity from the same cedar tree.

With care and thought, this retirement dream became an efficient modern home deeply rooted in the north country’s heritage and natural environment.

Peggy DeYoung is a nationally certified interior designer who owns the Porch and Paddle Cottage Shop in Clayton. Contact her at deerrun@twcny.rr.com.