While architect Carol Kurth is well known for her contemporary home designs, she gets much of her inspiration from her bucolic country surrounds. “I love the feeling I get coming back from Manhattan and pulling on to my street,” she says. “The sense of peace and tranquility just washes over me as I am transported from the rush of the city to the calm of the country.”
Cliffwater, the passive solar home Kurth designed and built when she moved to Bedford in the 1980s is also a reflection of that feeling. “My home is a contemporary with lots of glass, and I love living right in the middle of nature. It’s particularly beautiful in winter when all the hemlock evergreen trees are covered in snow—it is simply magical.” She considers her home to be “most definitely” a reflection of her personal design style and as such, the house and grounds are always evolving. “I like to think of it as a bit of a living laboratory.” She also enjoys the sense of wonder and discovery she gets just looking out the windows. “Several years ago, I saw my first bear on the property. That was a surprise—at first I just thought it was a neighbor’s dog that got loose!”
The home’s name aptly describes the site, set between rocky vertiginous cliffs and a tranquil pond below. Kurth credits her early experiences growing up in Manhattan and looking out over the spectacular views of the Palisades as a significant creative influence on why she is drawn to cliffs and rocky terrain. “I just gravitated to the natural wonders of Bedford and Pound Ridge,” she says. “The design challenge we find here is how to create the integration between the site and form with the contrasts between nature and structure. When it is done perfectly, it creates a real synergy between the elements.”
One of her earliest Bedford projects, Quarry Court, is a perfect example of that synergy, and also is a personal favorite. “The house was an exciting project that we sited on the pinnacle of an abandoned feldspar and mica quarry. It was recognized back in 1984 by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and was featured in a traveling exhibition across the country showcasing the work of women architects. I also designed many of the home’s furnishings.”
Indeed, she has been designing site- and project-specific furniture throughout her career as well as offering interior design services to her clients. A natural extension of those endeavors was to create her own line of furniture. Last May she introduced the first piece from the Carol Kurth Urban Edge collection: Squarish Chair|In Bloom, a sculptural swivel chair adorned with artful clusters of handcrafted leather flowers. She is currently exhibiting the chair, which is now available for custom order, at Forward Contemporary in Katonah. The collection will ultimately include other chair designs, tables, beds, night stands, and hardware.
When she is not designing homes or home furnishings, she loves exploring her community. “Village Green Deli has, in my opinion, the best coffee, so mellow and flavorful. I like to pair it with one of the fabulous muffins from Bedford Gourmet. Their cranberry walnut jumbo muffin is divine, especially right around 9 am when they are hot and fresh out of the oven—such simple pleasures!”
While Kurth enjoys cooking, she frequently dines at Lucia’s (“Sometimes I think I eat there more than my own kitchen!”). Her favorite meal is the Tri Colore salad with grilled shrimp or a shrimp cocktail: “It’s a perfect meal on a hot night. And there are lots of wonderful nightly specials, so always something fun to try, and the staff is truly terrific.”
The Bedford Playhouse is her go-to spot for entertainment. “It’s the new kid on the block, and it’s just fantastic! Having the theater with such amazing programming right here in downtown Bedford, why would anyone go elsewhere?” She is also an avid reader and stops in at the Bedford Free Library about once a week to pick up an audio book for the car and a few options for pleasure reading. At the end of a hectic week, Kurth likes to unwind at Happy Choice Nail Salon in Bedford Village. Her fave treatment is the green tea hot stone pedicure followed by a ten-minute massage.
“I love that I work, live, and play in such an incredibly friendly and eco-minded town. I especially love driving along the rustic dirt roads, particularly Guard Hill, where it’s easy to imagine simpler times, a horse-drawn sleigh with pastoral farms in the background, picture postcard perfection!”
Photo at top: Carol Kurth in her Squarish Chair | In Bloom. Photo by Hulya Kolabas.