Leave it to Beavers

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January 25, 2009

It’s not unusual for New Yorkers to have problems with their neighbors; after all, many a co-op brawl has started over a little late-night noise. But it is rare for the downtown crowd to have a beef with a pack of rowdy beavers—which is exactly the situation in which architect Lynn Gaffney and her husband, financial portfolio manager Bill Backus, found themselves recently at their weekend home in the tiny town of Sharon, Connecticut (population: 2,968). The beavers, who reside in the swamp behind Backus and Gaffney’s house, generally keep a low profile, but every so often let loose with a torrent of logs and sticks that block all the nearby drainage pipes, making a watery mess of local roads and forcing residents to haul away the detritus.

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    Photo by: Raimund Koch

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  Instead of buying new furniture, Backus went in favor of re-use and outfitted the house almost entirely with eBay finds, with the exception of the Flos Arco floor lamp by Castiglioni and the Random light by Moooi. “I spent months online looking for the right pieces,” he says. “It was fun sourcing the furniture myself.”  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Instead of buying new furniture, Backus went in favor of re-use and outfitted the house almost entirely with eBay finds, with the exception of the Flos Arco floor lamp by Castiglioni and the Random light by Moooi. “I spent months online looking for the right pieces,” he says. “It was fun sourcing the furniture myself.”

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  The multitude of windows along with the glass partitions in the house bring in enough natural light that there’s rarely any need for electrical lighting before nightfall.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    The multitude of windows along with the glass partitions in the house bring in enough natural light that there’s rarely any need for electrical lighting before nightfall.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  The Tom Vac chair is by Ron Arad for Vitra.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    The Tom Vac chair is by Ron Arad for Vitra.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  The double-height living area features unfinished plywood cladding.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    The double-height living area features unfinished plywood cladding.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  In the guest bathroom, penny tiles were chosen “because they’re incredibly economical, utilitarian, and we liked their kitschy feel,” explains Gaffney.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    In the guest bathroom, penny tiles were chosen “because they’re incredibly economical, utilitarian, and we liked their kitschy feel,” explains Gaffney.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  Fir stair treads are cantilevered off the wall with a custom steel support to create an industrial look.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Fir stair treads are cantilevered off the wall with a custom steel support to create an industrial look.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  To avoid constant maintenance issues—after all, “durability is part of sustainability,” Gaffney states—the roof is clad in standing seam metal and the siding is composite plastic decking, rather than easily weathered wood.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    To avoid constant maintenance issues—after all, “durability is part of sustainability,” Gaffney states—the roof is clad in standing seam metal and the siding is composite plastic decking, rather than easily weathered wood.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  Protruding SIP fins on the exterior collude with an overhang to minimize the sun's rays in summer, an important consideration when thinking about heating and cooling the tall, open living areas.  Photo by: Raimund Koch
    Protruding SIP fins on the exterior collude with an overhang to minimize the sun's rays in summer, an important consideration when thinking about heating and cooling the tall, open living areas.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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