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Dream to Reality: A New York Timber Home

Fulfilling a lifetime goal, one couple builds an all-natural, low-maintenance timber frame home.

Fulfilling a lifetime goal, one couple builds an all-natural, low-maintenance home in New York. Story by: Ally Hammond Photos courtesy of Timberbuilt
Since the Kempisty home was built on the side of a hill, 14 tractor- trailer loads of natural looking limestone were used as a retaining wall to stabilize construction. Since the Kempisty home was built on the side of a hill, 14 tractor- trailer loads of natural looking limestone were used as a retaining wall to stabilize construction.

  It's not every day your longtime dreams come true. But for Brian and Dawn Kempisty, that's exactly what happened when they finished their custom timber home and moved in back in 2009. The couple had always dreamed of having their permanent residence be a timber-frame home, and after a 4-year project from start to finish, the pair not only built and furnished their own timber home, but Brian now works for the company that built their house, while wife Dawn works as an interior designer.

Yes, the Kempisty's dream home resulted in not only a great place of their own, but also two new careers. “It was quite a journey,” says Brian, “but it ended up being one of the most satisfying accomplishments of our lives.” In 2005, the Kempisty's realized they had outgrown their weekend home in Ellicottville, New York, so they sold their weekend home and got started on to the project of building a full-time home, beginning with the process of researching timber-frame companies.

After interviewing six different providers, Brian decided on Timberbuilt, owned by George Klemens. “At the time, George didn't have a robust website and didn't have a lot to offer in the way of sales, but when I got done interviewing everybody, I realized I didn't have confidence in the shiny brochures, but I had confidence in George. We took a leap of faith and that's the direction we went,” Brian says. And to say the leap of faith worked out would be the understatement of a lifetime. Together, Brian and George surveyed the 106-acre parcel of land to ensure the best possible layout of the house. Located four miles from Ellicottville's ski village, the house is perched atop of a mountain providing the homeowners with a “top of the world view of the whole valley.”
Pickled timbers, concrete countertops and synthetic Eldorado Stone complete the home’s rustic interior. Pickled timbers, concrete countertops and synthetic Eldorado Stone complete the home’s rustic interior.

It was that land and the views that defined the entire layout for the home. “We knew the components we wanted on the main living level, but really the land defined everything else,” Brian explains. “The master is on the eastern side for the morning sun, the kitchen and the covered porch-which we sometimes put a dining table on-is on the west for the evening sun and the great room faces south to get natural light.

The way the light hit the land really defined the layout.” In addition to the orientation, the home embraces the outdoors, not only in how it mimics nature's color pallete, but also in the materials used to build the house. The kitchen mixes high-end cabinetry and appliances with smooth concrete countertops. The oak floors that run throughout the house were reclaimed from a 100-year-old tobacco barn, while the outside of the home is constructed with built-to-last cedar panels and timbers. The originality of this house reflects the land and the materials used for construction, as well as the interior furnishings, and so many funky features were handpicked to match the homeowners' style, making this house truly theirs.

“The components we have in our house you can't just go to the hardware store and pick up. It's not all readily available,” explains Brian. “We had to wait for the reclaimed tobacco barn floors, we have a buffalo head over the fireplace-where are you going to get that?” The couple's laid-back attitude is showcased everywhere, and is reflected in the durable aesthetic of the home. “It's not shiny and perfect, it's made to be lived in,” Brian notes. “I'll take the dogs for a walk to the pond, go out and cut wood, and then come right back inside the house. It's very welcoming and inviting. Durable, yet sophisticated.” Not only welcoming from the outside in, the layout also allows for anyone to admire all of nature from the inside out. “There's a covered porch on the west side of the house where we sit and watch the sunset every night, looking at the pond and the deer in the field,” says Brian. “The house is set up for how we live. Or maybe we live how it was set up. Whichever it is, we feel very comfortable here.”

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