Sited at the edge of a pristine creek, with a waterfall cascading over an ancient dam of hand-laid stone, the Floating Farmhouse was a sinking ship when first discovered. After a design and build process spanning four years, the 1820 manor home is now a study in contrasts: fully restored to its period grandeur while featuring purely modernist elements, including a curtain wall of skyscraper glass in the kitchen, polished concrete and steel finishes, minimalist interiors, and a cantilevered porch “floating” on the surface of the water.The design incorporates as many local materials and salvaged architectural elements as possible; hand hewn barn beams, Cor-Ten steel sheets, antique cast-iron radiators, and finish woodwork milled from trees felled on the property. But perhaps the best example of a low-carbon footprint material is the home itself. It was built with local materials, delivered by horse and wagon, and built entirely by hand. Renovating an old structure pays homage to that past, both aesthetically and environmentally. It also avoids the landfill, recycles an existing footprint, and spares the greenhouse gases generated by the manufacture and shipping of new building materials (even green ones).As a designer and builder, one of the most effective methods I have discovered, in addition to seeking the sweet spot between uniqueness of material and ease of application, is to peel back layers, expose what is inherent to the structure, and incorporate it into the final design; add by taking away.