Who says you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? AD100 designer Charles de Lisle has performed just such a feat of alchemy, transforming a particularly porcine sow’s ear—a bizarre, dilapidated shack set in a garbage-strewn Sonoma County, California, wilderness—into a vision of unpretentious and idyllic country charm. “It was like a satanist yoga den,” de Lisle says of the cabin’s crumbling structure and lunatic decor, which included black-painted walls, a giant red-and-black yin-yang symbol emblazoned on the floor, strange plastic Buddhas tucked in niches, and a janky DJ booth. “There were a bunch of dudes sleeping there and growing marijuana. It was a total dump. We dubbed it the Bro-jo,” the designer says.
The adventure began when de Lisle acquired a 10-acre parcel of land as a weekend getaway for himself and his partner, Ralph Dennis, design director at the office of AD100 designer Steven Volpe. The inauspicious property encompassed a two-bedroom house, a redwood barn from the 1880s, a ram-shackle chicken coop, and two sheds (the Bro-jo and a separate outhouse).
De Lisle tackled the rebuilding of the Bro-jo and the bath pavilion first. After major structural reinforcement—the shed was sinking into the ground—the metamorphosis of the Bro-jo was accomplished with a few bold strokes of paint, plywood, and redwood-framed windows salvaged from a nearby Air Force base. —Mayer Rus
A Proper Adirondacks Lodge
British writer and video game developer Dan Houser had been on many camping trips along Saranac Lakes in the Adirondacks, New York, when he finally invited his wife and children to join him in the wild three summers ago. It could have gone comically wrong: Krystyna, an entrepreneur, is a native New Yorker accustomed to life in the fast lane, and their youngest was just three at the time. But in a perfect twist of fate, “I fell in love instantly,” Krystyna says. “The water, the mountains, the pine trees—I’ve never been more relaxed. Seeing the kids, Dan, and myself calm down that weekend was the deciding factor. I was like, ‘If we’re going to lead chaotic lives in the city,’” the family of five is based in Brooklyn Heights, “‘we should commit to this place’” as a summer sanctuary.