Hyde Park, VT
Cushman Design Group
ABQ: What’s the story behind the site?
Milford Cushman: Terri, my wife, and I built the original house in 1985. It was 960 square feet, and over the years we’ve had contractors do some additions for us. We had actually been thinking about buying another piece of land and starting a new house for seven or eight years, but I went through a period of personal renewal and really came to appreciate the things I already had. So, we agreed that we could perhaps achieve that by taking a good part of the original home we built, dissembling it, recycling nearly everything, and doing a deep energy retrofit.
ABQ: What was the goal of this renewal?
MC: Our number one goal was energy efficiency. Our second goal was to create a place that is completely connected to its site. The trees on the site were planted in 1947 because agricultural crops wouldn’t grow on the sandy knoll, and our goal was to create a contemporary camp to match that. We wanted it to be energy-efficient, we wanted it to be satisfyingly comfortable, we wanted to use products that came from within 500 miles of where we are, and we also wanted to show off our ability as designers through the craftsmanship of the home. There is a lot of original art in the home, and of the 110 light bulbs in the house, all but five are LEDs. There is also a Tula [by Hearthstone Stoves] vertical wood stove. We expect the heating bills to be less than $600 per year for 2,300 square feet of heated space.
ABQ: How do you describe your personal connection with this space?
MC: I’ve been a design professional for more than 30 years. Around the time I was 35, when I was starting to get serious about architecture, I went through a time period when I would come home to my simple house, and I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong because I had clients who were in their 20s and they were hiring me to design their homes. And then at some point, I began to get the idea that if I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere other than a camp. The projects I have a personal affinity for are those where a client is looking to live an authentic life and live this out in the space we’ve designed for them. In my experience, camps tend to nurture and support this type of lifestyle.
ABQ: Is your work at the camp done? Will it ever be?
MC: The rest of my life’s work at Raven Beach is going to be tending the gardens and the woods around the camp. I would like to make the woods healthy for future generations. The trees growing there are mostly red pine, which can live up to 265 years. My intention is to be a steward of those woods so that those trees can live that long. The house is 99 percent done; the rest is what I call “the privilege of stewardship.”