Photographs © by John Lewis
As a builder of fine homes, Rick Clark appreciates the time-honored tradition of grand European houses with ingeniously pitched roofs, interesting angles and elegant masonry exteriors.
But Clark and his wife, Jan, also are aficionados of contemporary classics, the modern artisans who create furnishings that are bona fide works of art, as well.
Their expansive home in
“We love living with works from the modern period,”
Witness the circular sofa in the gathering room, a one-of-a-kind piece designed in the
The massive bronze sculpture over the mantel is the work of Paul Evans, a
In the study, there are more pieces crafted by Nakashima in his
But the works of art the
“When I was growing up, everyone at school would watch when my mom was on ‘The Merv Griffin Show,’” Jan recalls. “She was filled with talent and was great at everything she tried.”
Jan persuaded Rick that a large expanse of glass block would provide both natural light and privacy in the master bath.
He is the consummate space planner, laying out not only walls but furniture.
The couple and their two teenage sons, Anthony and Aaron, live in Bohemia Mills, a community of $1 million-plus homes Clark is developing on a verdant parcel of green on the headwaters of the
“There aren’t many builders putting up homes where they live,” he says. “But for us, it’s working out just fine.”
The 7,000-square-foot house might be the ultimate model home. In the flowing public spaces, soaring coffered ceilings are sheathed in mahogany. The floors are natural cherry, allowing the wood to show flecks of blond.
“It’s more modern, not so heavy,”
The couple waited two years for their custom-made dining table, crafted from two slabs of bubinga, an exotic African tree imported in logs that weigh as much as 10,000 tons. The slabs are fastened with contrasting butterfly joinery, a technique perfected by Nakashima.
Simply designed wool rugs, woven in
Finding the right sources for furnishings and materials is an integral part of the couple’s design strategy. To that end, they’ve sought out artists, mined their travels, scoured discount centers and traversed high-end auction houses.
Jim Bomba of Red Pepper Forge, an artisan Jan discovered in North East,
“We couldn’t have achieved the effect we wanted with wood spindles,” she says. “Having Jim do the staircase was well worth the investment.”
A brightly colored hand-painted sink in the bathroom of the guest apartment over the garage was a serendipitous find. The Clarks spotted it when they were vacationing in
Most of the modern art and furniture was purchased at auction, the lion’s share from David Rago Arts and
To pull all the pieces together, the
In choosing materials for the shower in the master bath, the
“I’m a clean fanatic, and I knew slate was always going to look good,” Jan says.
She also chose the mirrored dressers that lend an air of
“The whole house was designed around the water and views of the woods,”
In the kitchen, a large center island is artfully set on the diagonal to accommodate a six-burner Wolf cook top, storage and seating for six.
“I wanted lots of seats in case the kids invite friends over,” Jan says.
The fireplace in the adjoining family room is two-sided, also providing a glow on a patio outside that conjures visions of an Italian courtyard. In front of the house, earth-tone pavers, attic dormers reminiscent of a Parisian garret and estate-size lanterns flanking the massive mahogany front door provide European flavor. The stucco around the entry is troweled, providing a textural contrast to the smooth façade.
“For me, a house needs to be masonry—all the way around,”
A lavish lower level is devoted to recreational pursuits. The room that sees the most action there is a home gym. The
“This is the place where people are supposed to relax,”
Nutty for Nakashima
George Nakashima (1905-1990) transformed furniture into art—sinuous, naturalistic studies in wood that have attracted loyal admirers, including Rick and Jan Clark.
Nakashima was the most prolific and best-known figure of the American Studio Furniture Movement (1940-1990), an artistic renaissance born in
He was the first to embrace the knotholes, fissures and splits in wood as wondrous expressions of nature rather than imperfections. While most furniture makers discard the thin, irregular ends of slabs, Nakashima integrated them into his designs. Known as “free edges,” the elements are factors in determining the value of a piece. Essentially, the more free edges, the greater the value.