Making space for: Getting lost.

Brooklyn residents Jared and Carolina Della Valle, an architect and artist respectively, love city life but have been dreaming of a country escape since before they were married. “For years we’ve collected things and put them in boxes labeled FF for future farmhouse,” says Carolina.

Two decades and two daughters later, they started searching for the ideal place in the Hudson River Valley where they could build a weekend retreat. “I saw this land online and had to convince our broker, who didn’t understand why we wouldn’t want to be right on the river, to bring us up here,” says Jared. “It took about four minutes before I said, ‘We’ll take it.’”

From there the process moved swiftly. “The house was constructed in only 15 months,” says Jared. Their secret? Not deliberating long over decisions or changing their minds. For materials, they wanted everything to be as simple and honest as possible. “We didn’t want to use marble or other high-end finishes in the house because to us the real sense of luxury was the space and the setting, not the materiality.”

Upon arrival, the house appears as a simple black box. From the front door, visitors can see straight through the house to the view. “Suddenly it becomes clear as to why we’re here,” says Jared.

The house is constructed of raw concrete and pine finished with a natural tar that prevents bug infestation and is resistant to woodpeckers, of which they have many. Bleached oak was used inside, and the striking concrete walls were achieved by using old forms – “I wanted imperfections and color inconsistencies,” says Jared – and assembling the formwork into that pattern. “It’s a subtle bit of decoration that also shows off how it’s made,” he says.

The simplicity of the materials and spaces is also conducive to low maintenance, giving the family more time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. “We’re very connected as a family and we spend a lot of time together, whether hiking or exploring, we find a lot of fun things to do,” says Carolina.

There’s one thing, however, that Jared and Carolina haven’t done: Unpack the boxes labeled FF. “We let everything be new here, which is nice,” says Carolina. “We allowed ourselves to start fresh.”

Carolina Della Valle in the home her husband Jared designed for their family. The interesting objects behind her include a collection of Danish pepper mills.
Jared designed the steps to double as built-in seating, and made the terrace lower than the house to ensure an uninterrupted view from inside.