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A Family Timber Home in the Finger Lakes

A family timber home in the Finger Lakes region of New York state pairs a strong timber presence with a sensible design.

Story by Suzanna Logan Photos by Roger Wade ARCD-10670

They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. The way Patrick Seaman figures it, the same goes for houses. That’s why he designed his timber frame beauty in the Finger Lakes region of New York to win visitors right away. Just through the entryway, a canopy of timbers soars 30-feet overhead, forming an impressive, barrel-vaulted ceiling. “Every time someone walks in, their heads go straight up, and they say, ‘Wow,’” says Patrick. Building a home that wooed guests from the get-go was more than a personal point of pride for Patrick.

As the owner and president of Woodhouse, the Timber Frame Company, in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, he needed the house to show off what his joinery shop could accomplish. “We bring folks by two or three times a week to see the place,” he says. Although the couple’s personal tastes include a simple, streamlined aesthetic, Patrick took a no-holds-barred approach with the woodwork in the home.

“The frame is quite fancy and sophisticated,” he says. Most notably, a series of king post trusses with curved chords span the length of the home, adding strength and character. “We spliced the pieces of eastern white pine with a black walnut spline to create a curve that you wouldn’t normally be able to get,” he says.

While the intricate woodwork is a nod to Patrick’s professional life, he had only his bustling family of four in mind when he drew up the floor plan. “ The kids are always running around; the dogs are always running around. It’s a loud, family home with a lot going on all the time,” he says. “We designed this home around how we live.” With two young children, the couple wanted the master suite and children’s rooms in close proximity on the second floor. Patrick’s wife also wanted a laundry room on the same level. “Those elements were really the starting point of our footprint,” he says. Other sensible must-haves included an office for Patrick, as well as a mudroom with ample space to stash out-the-door essentials.

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Purely practical considerations aside, the couple’s love of entertaining and the outdoors drove the design on the main level. “It’s a kitchen-centric plan,” Patrick says. As the hub of the home, the kitchen is as suited to meeting the family’s daily activities as it is to hosting impromptu soirees. A large island with comfortable seating is an ideal spot for the kids to do homework or for guests to settle in and chat with the cook during dinner parties. Adirondack chairs around the pond add a pop of color to the natural landscape and invite guests to gather ‘round the fire.[/caption] Whether the house is full of visitors or it’s just the family of four hanging out, the lower level is a popular gathering place. The basement includes a pool table, theater room and wet bar. “I’m sorry to admit the television room has to be the kids’ favorite spot,” Patrick says, laughing.

The area also includes a bedroom and bathroom, which brings the home’s total to an ample four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. To make the main floor layout more efficient and create the strong indoor-outdoor connection he and his wife craved, Patrick included a number of exit points to the back deck. “You can open up multiple French doors, so you feel like the inside and outside are all one,” he says.

During mild weather months, the deck is an ideal spot for dining alfresco or cozying up in front of the outdoor fireplace. From there, impressive sights and sounds abound. Open fields, mature hardwood forests and a pond fed by one of the property’s 11 waterfalls are all just a stone’s throw away. “We love to just sit and listen to the waterfall,” Patrick says. “It really is a spectacular place.”

Tour the Family Timber Home in the Finger Lakes