Most people come back from an overseas trip with souvenirs. You know—key chains, some postcards, or a T-shirt. Others draw greater inspiration from their adventures and return with grand schemes.
File this home under the latter category. A dealer in Asian antiques returned from Japan so inspired, he built his own Zen sanctuary from the ground up. The result in Rhinebeck, NY, is now on the market for $ 2,995,000.
“Everything is very, very authentic, down to the very last detail,” listing agent Gary DiMauro said. The owners enlisted a Japanese architecture firm and contractors who were skilled in the “specific aspects of construction” to create a home that appears as if it hails from the Far East, not the Northeast.
Before the house was built, deep consideration was paid to the setting. “The gardens and the pond were done first,” DiMauro said. “First the pond, and the gardens were designed around the pond,” which he said was the custom in Japanese country-style buildings. “The house becomes more of a viewing platform for the pond and the surrounding gardens,” he added.
Once the Zen garden took shape—that is, five years later, after the landscaping had matured—then, and only then, did work on the house begin. The agent described the home’s construction as a “very, very painstaking and patient process.” Talk about Zen.
Built in 2000, the three-bedroom home is a traditional Japanese teahouse, complete with paper-and-wood shoji screens in almost every room. And, of course, almost every room offers a view of the carefully manicured gardens. “The master bedroom has a seating area that opens up to the pond and to the sound of a small waterfall. It’s very peaceful,” DiMauro said. “That was the impetus for this type of design.”
The retreat caught the eye of Architectural Digest, and the magazine marveled at the home’s “perfect calm.”
That tranquility appeals to busy city dwellers who make the 95-mile drive north from New York City to the Hudson Valley for a little quietude. The area is full of “mostly second homes for urbanites,” DiMauro said. The agent is part of a different group: folks who started out as weekenders but made the transition to full-time residents.
The teahouse is equipped for year-round living, although it’s ideal to open the screens to enjoy the view of the stunning gardens.
“In the warm-weather months, when you can have the house open, it’s really to extend the living space so that you’re bringing nature into the house. It’s very meditative,” he said.
The house itself is a modest 2,500 square feet. But the path-filled property spans 10 acres and includes an island in the middle of the pond for quiet contemplation—or sunbathing. “It’s completely private but not isolated,” noted DiMauro, who said the place is about 10 minutes to town, which offers an array of shopping and dining options.
While the house certainly reflects the owner’s taste for all things Japanese, DiMauro pointed out that fans of modernism will take fancy to the house as well. “Even if someone didn’t get the Japanese aesthetic, you could easily fill this house with modern furniture and it would fit with the house,” he said. “It still feels very modern, very simple, (with) clean lines—a lot of what modern design suggests.”
Something to meditate on.