There are approximately 3,000 square feet of finished area in the main house. The first floor offers a central entry foyer with mudroom cubbies to one side. The walkway offers an invitation into a public realm of vaulted space, including living, kitchen, and dining rooms. The living room overlooks the wetland backyard and creek, and accesses a personal covered porch; it’s warmed by a sealed combustion woodstove. The dining room is offset to the south and has its own banquette seating against a curved wall: it opens to a grilling patio on one side and the porch on the other, with sliding doors to fully integrate indoor-outdoor volumes. Central to both gathering spaces is a multi-function kitchen, with food prep and an eating island out front, and a cleanup zone to the rear, leading to the mudroom, pantry, and pet-feeding station. A variety of south facing windows include an overhead light monitor, or clerestory.
The main house design closely follows a well-loved project in Montana by the same design team, with modifications to suit site differences and personal preference. Material, fenestration, and interior details follow a controlled palette, allowing the wood elements and furnishings to make the larger statements in most volumes. The overall flavor relates to what we call “mountain relaxed” — a mix that includes shallower and reaching roof lines, varied ceiling and space volumes, access to privacy to balance the more open public areas, and as mentioned, an emphasis on natural materials and cleaner lines.
The family’s private zone begins with a short hall/stair landing with the option of heading up to the tower level or toward the modest master bedroom and main bath. This bath is segmented into a soaking tub and double sink first, and then a toilet and shower in a private room. Although designed by philosophical intent as a shared bathroom, the home has additional capacity in a half bath on the same floor and a full bath on the lower level.
The “extra” room off this hall is designed primarily as a home office, but will serve initially as a young child’s bedroom, until he is ready to move into the tower. This 12’x 24’ upper level space, with views in four directions, is expected to become a child’s realm, separable into sleeping and sitting spaces, and will be family/flex space in the meantime.
The home is situated on the site of a now-defunct pasture, with an 18% grade down to the Vermont Creek watershed. This grade allows the realization of a daylit lower level, and therefore a reasonably inexpensive use of interior volume. A recreation room, movie nook (with just enough room for a large sectional), laundry, mechanical area to include up to 4,000 gallons of rainwater storage, storage area, and guest suite are located on this level. A small wine storage room will occupy a well-isolated back corner. Due to the region’s occasional heat spells and decision to not air condition the home, the lower level sleeping quarter may become known as the summer retreat.
A detached garage to the east of the home creates an average 10’ wide lane between buildings, and is elongated to house one vehicle and a generous home shop area for small woodworking and boatbuilding activities. Above the garage is a studio primarily designed as an at-home work office for the owner, accessible by an outside stairway. It will also serve as ample guest accommodations for family, friends, and potential clients; it features a kitchenette, bath, one bedroom, and additional sleeping nook. Here the timber work will use welded steel and as-found industrial timbers, rather than the more traditional wood-to-wood joinery as seen in the main house.
The emphasis on outside living space is strong and varied in this project, and includes a personal-sized covered and raised porch at the juncture of living and dining rooms, and overlooking Vermont Creek. A grilling patio off the kitchen leads to both the raised bed gardens and the studio, where a larger covered porch can be utilized as a shaded outdoor eating and gathering place. A 200’ “lane-way” leads back and away from busy SW Vermont Street to the north side of both buildings; here there’s space for parking and playing basketball amidst a paved concrete courtyard and young fruit trees.
The studio is quite different, allowing the designers some freedom to explore a more contemporary styling, including a set of very shallow, single-pitch roofs that will functionally and visually support sedums and the other plantings associated with a living roof. While a zoning appeals had to be undertaken due to a quirky local law requiring duplicate roof pitches of both structures, the laws intent of creating continuity between home and studio is met with similarity of siding material and coloration.
The main timber frame and interior design team is Jonathan Orpin, Ty Allen, and Maxine Bromfield, with support from Tanya Lillehoff, John Nihart, and others at New Energy Works.