“THE MOST IMPORTANT PART is the relationships with the people making the final package,” he says. Luckily, his team included Paul Severance, a builder whom Mitch likens to a country doctor: very skilled and very wise. “I’d drive over at 7 p.m. after work and write [funny] notes on the house as it was being built, and I think that made my working relationship with everyone involved more fun,” Mitch says.
While he wanted an unusual home that communicated the same playful spirit that imbues the products he creates, Mitch also wanted to avoid something jarring that would clash with the Berkshires’ natural splendor. He settled on a basic “barn-y box” because it would allow the right amount of creativity and fun while still imposing some limits. “A house that could be any shape seemed like a huge design headache,” he says.
The layout was also a given. He wanted an open floor plan based around a central “spine” that recalled the factories of his youth. In a factory, that single vantage point allows you to see the flow of materials; in a home, it allows for what he calls “a certain visual honesty.” An exposed, unpainted metal exterior, modestly sized bedrooms, and concrete floors complete the unfussy vibe, while a series of double-height second-floor catwalks connecting the bedrooms prevents things from feeling too basic.
Despite the industrial vibe, the home has a lot of warmth. Its heart is the large kitchen, purposely placed by the front door to serve as a gathering spot. And the showstopper just might be the large two-story windows at the front and side of the house, which fill the space with light and lend it a loft-like feel.
Similarly, when it came to decorating, Mitch and his wife wanted to balance casual coziness with the factory aesthetic. “We like the shabby-chic, beaten-in look, but we don’t want it to look contrived,” he says. “So we’re not slavishly Shaker or anything.”
They selected bright pops of color in strategic places — oriental rugs in the entryway, a scarlet living room sofa, bright-orange kitchen stools — to soften the concrete floors and stainless steel finishes, then accented the space with old family photographs. The couple’s sense of humor and love of graphic design also shine through. Visitors, for example, are welcomed by a bright-yellow “Hello” decal in the middle of the glass front door.
“We got exactly what we wanted: an honest industrial feel. It’s a house that literally glows and that forces everyone to interact,” Mitch says. “And I get to brush my teeth every morning in front of a huge picture window.”