MTN Life Design: Doyle & Sandy’s Vermont sanctuary
Photos: Shem Roose
Location: On top of a lovely hill in Waterbury, Vermont.
Square Feet: Room to move, we can skateboard inside.
Special Features: The heating system is totally rad. It’s a wood fired furnace where the heat is stored in hot water in an old farm milk tank and is distributed throughout the entire house as needed. We have the large Great Fun Room, the lights in there came from a gymnasium in Newburg, NY. The light in the entryway came from an armory somewhere in downstate NY. All of our floors are radiant heat, we wanted the place to be super open and bright and we have lots of things to play with because our house is all about having fun!
Sandy Yusen, Director of Community Relations at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and her husband, Doyle, a “mad scientist”, who develops products at Burton, have created the life of their dreams. Affectionately called “The Flying Y Ranch,” this is the first home they’ve owned together and was a little split-level ranch when they moved in. Doyle talks about the Vermont sanctuary he and Sandy created.
How did you choose this beautiful Vermont location?
It came from Legh and his wife Jen. Legh owned the motorcycle shop that I worked at in the spring of ’89. He sort of adopted me as the younger brother that he never had and about 6 or 7 years ago he said, “this could all be yours someday.” And amazingly enough it became ours! He and Jen always wanted it to go to someone who wouldn’t parcel it out or cut it up or develop it but would keep it as a natural piece of Vermont. Legh built the house and I helped him build the workshop. I think of it as we adopted the place rather than bought it.
“I decorated it with everything that meant something to me. I have my snowboard-tuning zone; my motorcycle zone; I built Sandy a workbench so she has a zone, cause this is not a ‘No Girls Zone,’ girls are allowed ad welcome! It’s heaven, it’s my favorite place, it’s where I’m happy.”
So a lot of your house is repurposed?
Yeah, a lot of it is repurposed. We changed what was an attic upstairs into our master suite, which is really nice. When we built what we call The Walter Yusen Great Fun Room, we used snowboard core wainscot for the flooring. They were old R&D cores from the late 90’s that were going to get thrown out during cleanup. I saved a bunch and used them in the build. We named the fun room for Sandy’s dad who passed away a few years back and was such an inspiration to her.
Is it true it’s on maple sugaring land?
Yes, Legh loved to make syrup, so we have a big developed sugar bush between our property and the original 100 acres that Legh parceled off. We still tap all the maple trees on our properties and the adjoining property, so we had about 212 buckets. This past spring we boiled sap from March 11th (our first) to April 10th (our last), and we had about 10 boils in between. We ended up with 43.5 gallons of syrup. It’s the finest kind.
Do you have a name for your syrup?
Flying Y Syrup! You can’t buy it; you can only get it gifted. And the best way to get it gifted is to come visit us!
You have a nice little garden shack too — what’s the story behind it?
It’s Sandy’s garden shack and the place it sits is where Legh’s wife’s garden shack was. Legh scavenged that garden shack from a cider mill where he was doing property maintenance. That’s where we also got the apple trees. Legh and I made a handshake deal for the house while we were boiling sap in the sugarhouse, so we called it The Sugarhouse Deal. It was a binding arrangement and we always referred back to it. One day he looked at me and said, “We’re keeping the garden shack!” So I said, “Fine!” The very first thing we did when we bought the place was load the garden shack on Legh’s trailer and he drove it to their new house. Lumber pieces he had scavenged became the walls of Sandy’s new garden shack.
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