Watch Hill House is a modern weekend retreat designed to frame its landscape by Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, nestled on a secluded plot of land in the coastal village of Watch Hill, Westerly, Rhode Island. When a lively family of five considered building this three storey weekend home to serve as a hub for their extensive network of family and friends, they selected a 3.5 acre site fronting a nature preserve. A visitor to the site first encounters the slender pool house, which introduces the recurring palette of cedar, copper, and slate. On the main 5,200 square foot house, cedar “straps” of horizontal siding rotate individually to become lighting-filtering railings, or fold in to create programmed porches. A journey across the site unfolds as a conversation between openness and constructed site lines.
A restrained materials palette was used on the exterior, which was inspired by the landscape. “Since the site is wooded and wild, we used natural materials like cedar and slate instead of synthetic siding,” states the architect. The facade was treated like a piece of millwork and spent nearly six months working with the contractor to come up with the pattern of the shiplapped boards.
In the stairwell, floor-to-ceiling glass walls showcase the outdoors. “As you move up and down the stairs you have a view in all directions. As you move off that axis into the rooms, the view is carefully framed,” states the architects.
Floor-to-ceiling glass was used for the mater bedroom, which leads onto a deck. “We wanted a place that just drew us up like a magnet,” states the homeowner about creating her dream home. “The house’s design, comfort, and style certainly achieves that.”
Photos: Chris Cooper Photographer
The Ranchero is a modern ski cabin designed by CAST Architecture nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the small community of Mazama in Washington State’s the upper Methow Valley. The Ranchero is a base camp for a family of four, offering year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family. The architects responded with a simple, rugged design that is responsive to the environment and low on maintenance, letting the family focus on the outdoors. The open plan home offers 1,600 square feet of living space plus 800 square feet of covered outdoor space.
The deep veranda, over-sized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.
A view from the south shows how the house is split into two components linked by a single sloped roofline. To the right is the 1,400-square-foot main house, and on the left is a 200-square-foot sauna. The sauna area includes a covered wooden shed and a wax room for preparing skis in the winter.
A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.
With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.
Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.
The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing. The corridor beyond the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms as well as the bathrooms, laundry and a small office.
Made from low-maintenance, paint-free aluminum panels, the white ceilings reflect sunlight into the home to make the interior brighter and less reliant on artificial lighting throughout the day.
The furnishings throughout the house pick up on the ruggedness of the architecture as well as the character of the landscape. Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.
Peeling of steel also occurs at the entry, creating a shelf for keys, wallets, hats and so forth.
Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.
Many of the unique details that take advantage of the materials are very subtle. In one corner of the kitchen, for example, the steel peels up to hold chalk for writing notes or drawings pictures on the wall.
The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.
The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.
Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.
A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.
Photos: Courtesy of CAST Architecture
JH Modern is a contemporary mountain retreat for a couple from Texas designed by Pearson Design Group, situated in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The owners, one a physician turned entrepreneur and the other an oncologist, wanted a house that took full advantage of the outdoors. After having visited the area eight years ago, they had decided that this is where they wanted to be. With the Teton Range to the west and the Gros Ventre Range to the east, it’s hard to avoid having a spectacular view. In 2011, the couple purchased a five-acre lot for $1.2 million, turning it over to Montana-based Pearson Design Group whose firm had a 5,400-square-foot home built and furnished for them in just 16 months, for about $4 million. General requests by the homeowners included wanting the home to blend with the outside. “We wanted to be able to leave the doors open, and walk in and out. And have living areas outside,” states the owners.
In place of a formal entry hall, the architects substituted an outdoor room.
The outdoor room features an outdoor fireplace, something that comes in handy when the weather is frigid and the snow is knee-deep, as it is in Wyoming during the winter. There are also sliding barn doors, in case it gets too windy. The entry features the best view of the whole house.
The furnishings were chosen to withstand the elements, but the owners do bring the cushions and the pendant light in when they’re not here.
On the floor below the bison heads on the wall is a panel of chevron-patterned French oak set into poured concrete.
Each of the fireplaces is anchored with a slab of Two Dot stone.
In a corner of the living room is a New York Chair from Alchemy Collections; the vintage arrows were found on Etsy.
In one of the bathrooms, a Siena Tamburo Vessel sink from Stone Forest sits on a counter of Claro walnut.
The solid walnut kitchen cabinetry was custom made, with Shift knobs by Ted Boerner for Rocky Mountain Hardware.
The hand-cut plywood letters in the kitchen are from Gregory Morris’s Etsy shop, SlippinSouthern.
The black walnut slab kitchen table is surrounded by Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs from Design Within Reach. The hanging fixture was made by IronGlass Lighting.
The black walnut staircase has LED lights mounted beneath each riser to illuminate the way at night.
In the master bedroom is a custom-designed Claro walnut bed. Over the shagreen-covered Sorin Dresser from Made Goods hangs “A Calf in Between,” by Craig Spankie. The antler chandelier is by Frank Long.
A fuzzy Cortina chair from Refuge sits beside a Modo desk lamp by Jason Miller for Roll & Hill.
In the master bathroom, Ronbow round ceramic sinks with Purist fixtures from Kohler sit on Calacatta marble counters. The Bella Modern Pendant Light is from Niche.
A custom-made cabinet in the master bedroom has Brut Pendant pulls by Ted Boerner for Rocky Mountain Hardware.
Mr. Pearson said he thought of the house as “an extension of the landscape.” He added, “A mountain home is part of something much grander.”
Eagle’s Nest is a striking Mediterranean summer house that was completed in 2010, designed by Sinas Architects, situated on Serifos Island, Greece. Serifos perhaps, is one of the last Cycladic islands that has only recently started to develop. Some call it “wild and inhospitable.” For the few faithful who visit it consistently, this “roughness” is the key element that made them fall in love with it.
On the south side of Serifos, near the lovely beach of Kalo Ampeli is an area known as “Chomatovouni”. Here steep slopes, cliffs and rock formations dominate the scenery. Within this seemingly inhospitable landscape only the eagle could build its nest.
The house has a total size of 2,152 square feet (200 square meters) and is spread over three levels. The main house, with three dormitories, is located at the lower level. The house is accessed through the backside, through a staircase that seems to cut through the building, to lead visitors to the main terrace, a balcony with unobstructed views of the sea, the bay of Kalo Ampeli and the picturesque island Garbis. Another terrace has been created that adjoins with the kitchen on the west side of the building.
The main guest house has been placed on the top of the main house. It includes its own bathroom, kitchen and fireplace. This way the guest has complete privacy and access to the view.
Finally, a small cell like building, the “keli”, also a guesthouse, is positioned completely independently at the highest level of the complex.
The peculiar shape of the house serves two needs: on the one hand it creates multiple terraces protected from the sun and the winds of the Aegean and the on the other it breaks the volume of the building into individual smaller and irregular ones. The basic building material is stone that came entirely from the excavations. Stone in combination with the color of mortar achieves a color corresponding to the landscape. Thus the building is fully and naturally integrated in its surroundings.
Outside, the house combines all the structural elements of the island such as stone, ground, the reeds, wood with its natural colors, creating a traditional atmosphere. Internally cool white was selected as the dominant color and a modern aesthetic. The floors, all of which are smooth industrial, invite you to walk barefoot and forget the need for shoes.
One week of isolation in this house will certainly function as the lotus to the crew of Ulysses and make you forget all your ties with the city and need to return to civilization!
Photos: Nikos Stefanis
Lakeside Retreat is a relaxed weekend getaway designed by Lake|Flato Architects, on a compact sloping site along Horseshoe Bay, Texas. The design of the residence was informed by its compact sloping site, close proximity to neighbors, and direct waterfront access. Aided by the fall of the terrain, the house’s one-story profile from the street conceals a transparent two-story lake facade opening to the primary views. Cantilevered porches offset the bermed structure of the main house with a lighter, floating tree house effect. The southern screened porch, coupled with landscaping, offers protective privacy from neighbors while permitting cooling breezes and daylight.
The composite palette includes hardy materials such as native Texas Lueders limestone, cedar, and steel; simple, brightly painted interior surfaces and millwork; and individual expression demonstrated through custom-designed hardware, fixtures, and furnishings.
Contributing to the casual atmosphere and occupant comfort are right-sized spaces for both large and small gatherings, modern efficiencies such as the lake-based geothermal HVAC system, and the family’s commitment to outdoor living and dining embodied in the lofty screened porch.
The abundant use of native materials and passive and active design strategies has led to the award of LEED certification.
Photos: Frank Ooms Photography
San Marino Island House is a 1930s art deco home with a recent modern addition by Robert Kaner Interior Design, located just outside of South Beach in Miami, Floria. The residence is re-conceived as a weekend and vacation home and is designed to provide for either a calm and restful stay or for a high energy collection of people and activity.
Photos: Courtesy of Robert Kaner Interior Design
The Retreat Selous is an all-suite tented lodge, an enchanting refuge situated in wild bush on the banks of the Ruaha River, Tanzania. Your suite is one of just twelve in this remote haven in the Northern Selous. As the largest protected wildlife sanctuary in Africa, The Selous Game Reserve is often described as a place where one will find the most pristine wilderness – one of the “secrets of Africa” indeed. The Retreat Selous has been built into pristine land, untouched for centuries far away from anybody else. A mystical and historical spot where the journey to experience the power of the African nature and undisturbed behavior of wildlife roaming freely around you is getting a new dimension.
The main house, ‘The Fort’ is perfectly positioned on the site of a former military observation point from World War 1 and provides guests with a direct 360 degree panoramic view over the Ruaha river and untouched plains. The beautiful tented suites are mounted on raised teak wood platforms and each comes with its own private deck and outdoor bath and chill out area allowing you to savour your own experience of the surrounding wilderness. The canvas interiors are handmade to reflect the stars of the African sky and are complimented with African antiques and local handcrafted materials.
To stay at this incredible retreat, nightly rates start from $695, from here.
The Retreat offers four different styles of accommodation. Twelve spaciously 100–220 square meters, more than six meter high tented suites under palm thatched roofs with expansive distance between each suite have been constructed in three independent units to correspond with the surrounding habitat, whilst guaranteeing privacy and romance.
Each suite has its own private outdoor deck with a stunning signature outdoor antique copper, brass or silver bathtub. Ethnic elements, bespoke furnishings, African antiques, natural materials and precious stones have been blended to create a unique sense of comfort and natural luxury using principles of Feng Shui and the Five Elements in materials and interior design.
Guests have a choice of Eagle Hill Suites with breathtaking views, the River Suites which are situated beside the river bank and come complete with their own private plunge pool or the Lion River Suite which is larger with an additional tent and ideal for families or honeymooners.
Guests at the lodge can enjoy a refreshing cocktail at the river bar while watching the sun set then dine by the breathtaking infinity pool or on one of the towers overlooking the Selous.
Hilltop Retreat is a stunning Mediterranean style home designed by high-end interior design firm Tucker & Marks, situated high on a ridge above the central coast in Tehama County, California. The home features a flowing series of vaulted interior spaces and broad exterior terraces that capture both the morning and evening sun. The design firm took a playful approach t0 finishes and textiles by mixing textured indigenous stone, hand-hewn and sandblasted woods, antiques, new pieces, and fabrics – linen prints, cushy chenilles, and soft cottons – that had both a modern and casual feel.
On the floor is a custom wool and mohair area rug was manufactured by Sloan Miyasato. The coffee table base was purchased from Formations, and the limestone inset top is from Fox Marble. The painting is by Paul Balmer, the title is “Summer Abstracted”.
The side table next to the club chair is made from a section of an old, reclaimed ironwood tree, purchased from JRM International. The console table below the painting is a French 19th century elm desk, purchased from Ralf’s Antiques. The beautiful painting is called “Red Smoke” by Jennifer Brook-Kothlow. If the wall color appeals to you, try Benjamin Moore #957 Papaya.
The lantern above is a Large Cubic Lantern with three lights in an aged bronze finish, from Formations.
The kitchen island bar stools are three “Laced Rawhide Back Bar Stool” in a tobacco finish, purchased from The McGuire Company. The kitchen countertops are a “Tiberius Gold” stone countertop, while the cabinets were custom-built and painted in Benjamin Moore OC-103 Antique Yellow. On the ceiling you will notice a skylight with 2 pendant lights (mounted to skylight frame) in a steel-dark patina finish with a rectangular linen shade in a cream color (from Holly Hunt). The paint finish is hand-troweled plaster walls with a custom-mixed warm straw color. This floor is made from oak wooden planks with a clear stain.
These rattan dining chairs are from McGuire. The hand-troweled plaster walls have a custom-mixed warm straw color, inspired by the colors of the indigenous stone and earth of the central california coast area. The floor is made of wooden oak planks.
The ten side chairs with scrolled legs and antique brass nailhead along the base of the seat, are upholstered in a saddle colored leather, purchased from A. Rudin Furniture (the item # is SC 560, the finish is Chestnut #35, with antique brass nailheads). The cast stone bases of this dining table are from Michael Taylor Designs. The lantern is an iron Giacometti style four-light lantern with leaves, an owl, and a bird in a bronze finish was purchased from Carole Gratale. The wall finish is comprised of stone indigenous to the California location of this house.
The light fixture above the dining table is a Giacometti-style lantern, purchased from Carol Gratale. The metal-framed windows and doors were custom-designed and custom-manufactured for this project.
The window treatments are made with a leopard print linen from Raoul Textiles at De Sousa Hughes, called “Leopard” in the Olivine colorway. The Roman Shades, in a pale raffia-like material, are from Conrad.
The plantation shutter doors were custom-manufactured for this project.
The flooring material is Sweetwater Cherokee stone. The ceiling light fixture is a Large Cubic Lantern with three lights in an aged bronze finish, from Formations. The ceiling wood is oak with just a clear finish.
Photos: Matthew Millman
Hydeaway House is a modern vineyard retreat in the Carneros region of Sonoma, California, designed by Schwartz and Architecture. The simple, one-story 2,000 square foot floor plan is not unlike any number of recent pre-fabricated prototypes for low cost, sustainable single-family homes. But then, the shape of the house begins to morph with the push and pull of the surrounding environment. The simple rectangular box folds in two to embrace the open 1-acre site. Walls skew under the rectangular roof to focus on near and distant views. This then creates the tapering roof overhangs that strategically protect the private spaces from the harshest of the summer sun. In the end, the design retains the benefits of a simple plan with streamlined construction, and the economical and sustainable use of materials. Yet with just a few subtle shifts in the plan, we create a home engaged with its surroundings and far more able to take advantage of the best its site has to offer — qualities often lacking in the simple box.
To stay at the heavenly retreat, prices range from $775 – $975 per night, from here.
Photos: Matthew Millman
Haus Walde is a modern mountain retreat nestled in the luxury ski resort village of Kitzbühel, in Tyrol, Austria, designed by Gogl Architekten. The client requested an open, light-filled room with the garden and the beautiful backdrop of the Kitzbühl Alps integrated into the 4,122 square foot (383 square meters) living space. The site is located on a north-facing slope, bordered on its western edge by a stream and a path, on its southern edge by a street and on its eastern and northern edges by neighboring sites with freestanding buildings. The access road to the site is simultaneous with the street on the southern side. There is a listed building in the eastern half of the site, which had to remain unaltered. The biggest challenges were positioning the new construction on a difficult slope, the narrowness of the site and the architectural conflict with the existing house.
The new building is consciously presented as a contemporary counterpoint to the old house. Both buildings stand independently of each other as examples of construction from different epochs.
We attempted to adapt the new construction to the topography of the site and to embed it as well as possible into the terrain, at the same time making maximum use of the building regulations. The changes of level in all three storeys, which are adapted to the terrain, create differentiated zones while maintaining the open plan. A long wall of natural stone on the slope side gives the residents ‘backing’ from behind. The large-scale glazing, facing south towards the valley, opens up varied views on the wonderful backdrop of the Kitzbühler Alps. Moveable facade elements of wood ensure a feeling of spatial openness, while at the same time safeguarding the private sphere of the residents. The multi-layered structure of the facade and the interlaced rooms result in a complex spatial experience. The central element of the ground floor is an open fireplace which sends surplus heat to the geothermal heat pump and creates a cozy atmosphere.
As a modern contrast to the earthly materials of wood and natural stone, the ceiling in the ground floor is made of exposed concrete. In the bedrooms, oak wood dominates the floors and the ceilings. The terraced roofs with their broad projecting canopies give the building the character of an open structure embedded in the landscape with a panel-like form. The interconnected inner rooms are further enlarged by generous terraces without thresholds. The west-facing terrace, which enlarges the living area, ‘sways’ over the stream along the western edge of the site and thus makes optimal use of the limited space. The roof of the carport (which aligns with the street) is transformed into part of the garden through planting and is not visible from within the house. The southern part of the basement is built as a living and working area and is optimally lit from the south.
The long path between the street/carport and the basement (which is lit from above), serves as an art space for pictures and sculptures.
Photos: Mario Webhofer