THESE TWO BROTHERS act like typical college-age siblings. They go to the store for bottled water and come home with a gun-shaped vodka bottle. They work at the same company, where they tease the other employees and start wondering what to order for lunch around 10 a.m. They get a kick out of gag tchotchkes like “Instant Irish Accent” breath spray and Nelson Mandela-approved car air fresheners.
They may be fun-loving, but Seth and Mitch are, in fact, well beyond their college years. They own their own business — a successful Pittsfield, Massachusetts-based company that sells gift items like quirky bath products, tote bags, and tin banks out of a renovated piano factory. And while they’ve managed to hang on to their inner child, the brothers are also seriously interested in design and architecture: They’re the respective owners of two distinctive homes located a mile away from each other.
After relocating with their young families from Boston’s South End to the Berkshires in 1993 (“We either wanted to live smack in the middle of the city or way out in the sticks — and with kids, the sticks seemed the way to go,” says Seth), they initially settled in what he calls a cookie-cutter-development in Pittsfield. After their business expanded, both brothers began scouting for land to pursue their building dreams. A decade ago they purchased lots that were a mile apart in Lenox. While the decision wasn’t intentional, the proximity allows the two families to “share a cup of sugar, or whatever, which is quite nice,” says Mitch.
Sons of the owner of a steel fabricating company, both brothers instinctively lean toward an industrial aesthetic. They turned to fellow city expats Andy Burr and Ann McCallum, the Williamstown-based husband-and-wife architecture team who designed Mass MoCA’s iconic Porches Inn. “We may have picked them just because they use lots of corrugated metal,” jokes Mitch.
They wanted top-notch architectural guidance — but they also wanted to be their own general contractors. Burr and McCallum eagerly began working with the extremely hands-on pair, who favored a factory-chic environment. “Ann called us the odd clients, but I was shocked at how quickly they came to us with ideas that needed very little modification,” says Seth. “They’re good eggs and good listeners,” adds Mitch. “But they don’t put you to sleep, either. They’re in the surprise business, just like we are.”