Inside a Creative Couple’s Sustainable Catskills Getaway
The first thing you notice at Bill Caleo and Megan Noetzel LeFauve’s Catskills home is the abundance—and the aroma—of wood. “It’s part of why I love walking into the house,” Noetzel LeFauve says of the white oak used for ceilings, floors, and millwork, all of it unsealed and rubbed with natural oils. “It smells so cozy.”
And cozy was the goal. Caleo, cofounder of the Brooklyn Home Company, a boutique real estate–development firm, and Noetzel LeFauve, an interior designer, envisioned the home as a year-round compound for themselves, their children, and their extended families. In addition to the three-bedroom house, the property includes a garage with a bunk room, a guest cottage, a playhouse, a pool, and a pool pavilion. There’s even a pond full of sunfish, shiners, and bass.
Part rustic great camp and part modernist barn, the retreat belongs to a 130-acre sustainable community known as Hudson Woods, masterminded by the Manhattan-based architect Drew Lang. Caleo hadn’t been considering the Catskills as a place for a weekend home. But he fell in love with Lang’s designs and the promise of getting back to nature. “I knew I needed more of that in my life, and I wanted that to be a part of our children’s lives. I totally drank the Kool-Aid.”
A major draw was Lang’s commitment to passive-house principles, which Caleo honors in his own projects. Outfitted with solar panels, the house is also, Lang explains, “oriented to maximize solar gain and enable cross-ventilation, so you don’t have to actively heat and cool it.” Windows are triple-glazed and walls heavily insulated, at times naturally so by the terrain. “The property can operate net-zero.”
Many materials were regionally sourced, including that FSC–white oak (farmed at a Pennsylvania mill) and the bluestone used for pavers (quarried from a deposit on-site that then became the pond). A similar ethos informed the furnishings, overseen by Caleo’s sister and business partner, Lyndsay Caleo Karol. For the kitchen, she worked with fabricators to create a marble-top table with swing-arm seats for 12. Her husband, Fitzhugh Karol, a multitalented maker who handcrafts pieces for all Brooklyn Home Company projects, contributed the entry console, composed of charred timber beams, and the pavilion’s dining table.
Come summertime, the latter plays host to lunches (in wet swimsuits) and dinners cooked on the indoor grill, with vegetables fresh from the garden. Caleo tabs the pavilion as his favorite room, one that they use in three seasons. “When it’s chilly,” Noetzel LeFauve says, “we’ll light a fire, open some wine, and just hang out.” And they never know when they might see a hawk swoop down or wild turkeys emerge from the trees. Caleo jokes that Lang’s seductive pitch “tricked” him into thinking he’d like it here. Now he’s grateful. “To be in the pool, just be surrounded by woods,” he says, “it’s an awesome feeling.” —Stephen Wallis
Department of Architecture: https://www.ibu.edu.ba/department-of-architecture/