Dan Shurey is nesting for the winter. He is perched alongside a spare kitchen countertop in his kitchen—with an open view for miles over the encircling woodlands. Rows of handcrafted ash cabinetry, sans doorways, reveal a cache of neatly stacked pots, pans, dishes, and cooking gear; one easy ash shelf runs the size of the room, displaying a clutch of hand-thrown mugs; wide-open home windows supply a fair wider vantage of the western Catskills. Shurey’s canine, Marfa, sits in a patch of sunshine on the white-washed floorboards, a crisp shade—Shurey refers to it as “polar white”—that extends up the wall boards to the ceiling. This polar-white-on-blonde-wood-on-silver-on-beige state of affairs is interrupted solely by the occasional flashes of Shurey’s brilliant, color-drenched oil work.
It is the very starting of November, which implies this far up within the Catskills there’s already a little bit of snow on the bottom and, with the leaves principally gone, the glistening panorama is a mixture of darkish and lightweight gray, comfortable browns and straggly bits of yellow, and patches of white—November’s palette—and it appears as if the inside of Shurey’s house is only a barely lighter, hotter extension of the encircling panorama.
However then, proper outdoors Shurey’s again door, there’s the meadow. The grasses are useless, fallen in on themselves and stacked like unkept hay, and matted by way of with crusty snow and useless leaves. The occasional hen field juts out of the lumps at odd angles. Though the panorama appears quiet, the heartbeat of it vibrates by way of the encircling air. “There’s a lot occurring beneath the floor,” explains Shurey. “Bugs burrow in and make nests. Quickly, the winter birds will begin showing.”
Former farmland, the six-acre meadow was misplaced to invasive species when Shurey purchased the property along with his former companion Nick Morese at first of 2020. Together with the intestine renovation of the two,000-square-foot log cabin, Shurey took on the rewilding of the native meadow, and within the course of, managed to rewild himself. The wild meadow is surrounded by eternally wild forest and, even with the naked November view, there’s barely one other house in sight. It is simply Shurey, Marfa, and the birds.
Shurey first found the western Catskills on a motorbike journey along with his brother in 2014. “I would just moved to New York from London and we determined to take our bikes on the practice to Poughkeepsie,” he says. The brothers cycled up into the mountains by way of the tiny villages in Delaware County. “I could not recover from the uncooked, genuine great thing about the Catskills,” he explains. “There have been nice little bars and cafes, farmhouses in every single place, and pleasant individuals. I saved considering, ‘What is the catch?'”
The world reminded Shurey of his native Cornwall, the place he spent his childhood exploring the pure world and photographing native birds and butterflies. After majoring in Environmental Geoscience on the College of Bristol, he went into finance, specializing in nature primarily based carbon sequestration. The profession first led him to London after which New York Metropolis, the place he realized in regards to the complicated potentialities of offsetting carbon emissions by restoring pure wetlands, grasslands, and forests.
Shurey cherished his work however at all times felt there was a chunk of himself lacking. “For me, residing in London and New York, I misplaced my connection to nature,” he says. He wished to return to the Catskills and visited repeatedly through the years. Lastly, in 2019 he had some profession flexibility and with Morese, started looking the world for a house. The three-bedroom, three-bath log cabin wanted work, however they cherished the placement. They purchased it and took roost in March of 2020—getting into their six-acre bubble simply because the world was locking down.
Skeletons within the Log Cabin
“We lived in an empty home for 3 months,” explains Shurey. “We could not get any provides, and so we slept on an air mattress in the midst of the ground.” Over the next yr they slowly gleaned furnishings from Fb Market, and in 2021 they determined to rework one of many house’s three bogs. “We shortly realized that supplies have been in brief provide and our builder, Patrick Sullivan of Superb Finishes, already had accrued two or three years of contracts,” says Shurey. So the 2 determined to go entire hog, gutting the place after which reimagining the structure for higher move and a minimalist tone that mixes a Danish aesthetic with cabin vibes. “The design focuses on simplicity, utility, native sustainable supplies and sharp, sensible, easy strains,” says Shurey.
The lounge specifically wanted to be introduced again to life. Dominated by an enormous cleaning soap stone fire in a single nook and a big TV in one other, the house did not move. “You’d stroll in and the very first thing you’d hit was the again of a settee,” explains Shurey. “There was simply useless house across the fire since you could not put furnishings there, so that you have been at all times leaping round issues, and having this large stone within the nook set the tone of the room. It was like a mausoleum in there.” Shurey and Morese determined to tear out the fireside, opening up the room into two distinct areas. Alongside the house’s entrance wall they created a sitting space round a contemporary wooden range after which had an area fabricator craft a metal base that doubles as wooden storage. On the reverse finish of the room, a small alcove hides a TV alongside one wall, and certainly one of Shurey’s oil work hangs over a mixture of seating in one other nook.
Shurey and Morese took a darkish, fiberglass molded rest room on the house’s first flooring and reworked it into a chic respite for considering nature. After tearing out the unique tub and fixtures, their contractor lower a window within the south-facing wall. “I could not even watch when our builder took a chainsaw to the wooden,” says Shurey. After gutting the house, the 2 selected darkish grey Moroccan Zellige tiles for the flooring. Minimalist white fixtures and a shelf for crops emphasize the pure setting. Shurey and Morese sourced a clawfoot tub and added it below the newly put in window to seize the view.
The kitchen was additionally Shurey and Morese’s design, primarily based on Shurey’s experiences moonlighting in eating places. “I cherished the sensation of getting all the pieces I wanted simply accessible,” he says. “I wished to duplicate that ease on this house.” “Shurey first drew up the designs himself after which shared them along with his brother, Nicholas Shurey, an architect and sculptor primarily based in Copenhagen. Nicholas Shurey formalized the design after which despatched them to a New York-based millworker who constructed the cabinetry and shelf from native ash.
Shurey and Morese reimagined the house’s chopped-up basement as a lightweight stuffed bonus room. “It was a windowless, darkish and lifeless storage flooring with a collection of corridors and porky rooms,” says Shurey. Impressed by the only room design and oblique mild of a Japanese ryokan, the 2 pulled out all of the basement’s dividing partitions and added an additional rest room and laundry alongside the sides, accessed by frameless doorways. “Now it flows freely between an artwork studio, a examine, a gymnasium, and a yoga house with a single polished concrete flooring,” says Shurey. The entire house is illuminated by 16-foot sliding glass doorways dealing with southeast. “The one room design emphasizes perform and naturally attracts the attention to the mountain panorama,” says Shurey. “It additionally creates fascinating shadows for portray.”
Outdoors the sliders, the meadow virtually edges the home. When Shurey and Morese purchased the property, it was utterly taken over with wild rose and autumn olive, each invasive. “I eliminated truckloads of the wild rose,” explains Shurey. “And I’ve spent the final three years restoring the wildflower and grassland meadows that encompass the home, planting quite a lot of native grasses and flowers of their place.” Because the wildflower meadow has matured into bushland and the beginnings of a younger forest, Shurey has famous the return of a number of species. “We have had nesting Japanese bluebirds, phoebes, and swallows within the subject,” he says. “Kestrels began searching right here and a household of bobolinks moved on this summer season, which is nice as a result of they’re very uncommon. Pink-winged blackbirds patrol the meadow perimeter each spring.”
With the assistance of fellow scientists, Shurey has recognized very uncommon butterfly and moth species taking residence within the meadow as nicely. Not solely is the meadow lovely, Shurey’s rewilding venture has been a technique to convey his skilled life full circle. “The very best half is ecological succession is significant for carbon sequestration,” he says. “Native grasslands and wetland crops promote soil well being and improve soil biology, creating porous pockets that retailer carbon for a few years to return.”