Seth started his project a year later.
LIKE HIS BROTHER, he wanted an industrial aesthetic and a large, central kitchen (“because everyone always congregates in the kitchen no matter what you do,” he says). But, as architect Ann McCallum explains, Seth actually turned Mitch’s plan on its head. Whereas Mitch wanted a barn that was “one big lump — a single box that fit into the landscape,” Seth wanted a house that looked like it had several different parts. “He wanted a home that looked like a collection of appendages that grew organically over time,” says McCallum.
To that end, the home’s exterior is a charming warren of buildings. A simple gray edifice, reminiscent of Mitch’s design, houses the guest bedroom, a basement woodworking studio, and Seth’s wife’s home office, where she runs her consulting business away from the din of the main house. The building connects via a long, enclosed walkway to a small red-brick structure, home to a double-height living room with interior brick walls and original wood floors; in turn, the family room leads to a bright-yellow-sided central building. This area contains the kitchen, along with the master bedroom and Seth’s office upstairs. A second gray appendage jutting off its side houses the garage and, above, the kids’ bedrooms. And the house continues to grow organically: Seth’s 16-year-old son just built a chicken coop with the same gray exterior, a tin roof, and legs made of birch. Seth deems the construction quality questionable, but quips, “It’s just for chickens, which are the stupidest animals I’ve ever seen.”
The exteriors of the brothers’ homes may be distinct, but the interiors are strikingly similar. Seth’s kitchen features the same open layout, island with stools, and stainless steel finishes as his elder brother’s. There’s also a shared appreciation for bright flourishes and graphic posters throughout the home. Seth prefers a clean look, while his wife likes a bit more warmth, which leads to a “happy medium” that looks a lot like Mitch’s aesthetic.
The distinguishing feature in Seth’s house is the exquisite detail work throughout, from the treads embedded in the steps leading from the kitchen to the second floor, to the medicine cabinets in each of the three and a half bathrooms. Seth, a self-described “hack woodworker,” created each labor-intensive piece. The stair treads, in particular, were brutal. Iron treads like these are generally set into concrete for industrial outdoor use, so their dimensions don’t matter — they just slide into the wet cement. When he went to fit them into his wooden stairs, however, Seth discovered that the iron was nearly impossible to cut, and each one was a slightly different thickness, meaning that every step was a challenge. “I don’t even want to talk about how long it took,” he jokes. “The wounds still haven’t healed.”
But the hard work has paid off. “I like the fact that there’s a slightly off-kilter, unmatched feeling to the house,” Seth says. Still, it’s a work in progress. “I do not like the fact that, eight years later, I still haven’t finished the wiring in the bathroom vanity. My wife complains every time she does her makeup.”