Sandy Chilewich and her husband, Joe Sultan, had always been beach-goers, heading out every summer to their ramshackle house on Fire Island—a perfect place for a family with two young sons. But with the boys now grown, and that community overgrown, they were restless and ready for something different. The couple also wanted a place they could go year-round. They had long dreamed of building their own house and decided to search for land in Columbia County, in upstate New York. They weren’t looking for magnificent vistas. "We wanted a place that felt contained," says Chilewich, creative director of the groundbreaking, eponymously named company that produces woven-vinyl tablemats and flooring. She recalls finding their land on the first day of looking: The real estate agent kept showing them what they didn’t want—mountaintops with majestic views—but finally took them to a simple wooded plot, saying: "I shouldn’t really show you this place; it’s really boring." They bought it on the spot.