Defined by its great range in temperature, color, wind, smell and humidity over four distinct and dramatic seasons, northern Vermont presents both opportunities and constraints. The design and construction of this house is a response to these qualities.
This 6,500 sq ft home in the hills surrounding Stowe, Vermont, is located in a clearing overlooking a small lake with spectacular views of Mount Mansfield in the distance. Four buildings consisting of a main house, a small guesthouse attached by a wood and glass portico, a detached garage and a barn form a protected courtyard that serves as the main entry and focal point for the complex. Organized beneath broad sloping roofs, the house is intimately connected to its site. The window openings and dormers are positioned to further heighten the relationship between interior volumes and the landscape.
Great care has been taken to use natural materials and expressive detailing to harmonize with the surrounding natural landscape while maintaining a simplicity and clarity of construction. The entire project uses wood framing which include Spruce joists, rafters and studs; laminated Southern Yellow Pine posts and beams; and Douglas Fir rafter extensions and collar ties. The Guest House wing incorporates similar details in addition to tongue and groove Red Cedar siding. Custom made Mahogany windows and doors are used throughout the project and lead coated copper roofs, concrete bock walls, and brick chimneys complete the exterior material palette. On the interior, Cherry tongue and groove and Douglas Fir end grain flooring, exposed Douglas Fir collar ties, reverse board and batten Douglas Fir ceilings, and Mahogany casework compliment the exterior materials and accentuate the mostly plaster interior volumes.
The relationship between landscape and house is tied to the senses in carefully crafted details that integrate these materials. A foot scraper at the house entry signals the muddy environment for boots and the transition from exterior to interior. Made of a single piece of cut steel, the scraper advertises its purpose at a glance and is of similar construction to the much taller, thinner handrail next to it. Without a superfluous bend, the handrail traces the path the hand must take and connects ground to step with a single line. Further afield, dry-set stone, occupying only a step or two, marks the transition from earth to wood-planked dock. To reach the dock, one walks from soft earth to stone, set like a foundation, and then reaches the light wood planks floating over water.