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
Pebble Beach Residence is a clean and modern weekend retreat designed by BAR Architects, located a few hundred feet from the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean, in Pebble Beach, California. The home is positioned below the 18th fairway of the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links, designed to take every advantage of its unique and dramatic location.
The home reflects the owner’s interest for a clean, contemporary home and is designed to feel like the most luxurious spa in the world. All the primary rooms of the house are arranged along the 18th fairway with views through stone colonnades of the expansive Pacific – from Point Lobos to the northern-most point of Carmel Bay.
The house includes large living, dining and kitchen spaces with exterior spaces for entertaining. The primary exterior building materials of cut limestone, titanium and teak are also used throughout the interior of the house to emphasize the connection between the interior spaces and the exterior resort setting.
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
Split View Mountain Lodge is a private holiday retreat designed by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, located near the mountain village of Geilo, a popular skiing destination in Havsdalen, Buskerud, Norway. Ski resorts are abundant around the lodge, with a freestyle terrain park right next to the site. Out of winter season, the mountains provide excellent hiking opportunities as well as other sporting activities. The family of four with anticipation of a fifth addition provided a straight-forward program for their 1,400 square foot (130 square meters) mountain lodge: four bedrooms, separate living and dining areas, a youth lounge and a mezzanine for the younger children. In addition a small annex would accommodate guests and visiting grandparents.
Our response was a cabin of clear and clean-cut expression with a continuous skin of timber cladding on the exterior walls and roof, which will acquire a grey patina with time. The volume consists of a main body, housing mostly bedrooms, which follow the natural contours of the landscape and splits into two living zones. This shift in program and use of multiple levels allows the building to adapt to the slope of the site. The separate volume of the annex is placed in extension of the main body, contributing to the three characteristic split views through fully glazed end walls.
The cabin is entered beneath the cantilevered glazed volume into a hall with polished in-situ concrete floor, functioning as an intermediate zone to remove ski boots and outdoor clothing. A wooden stair ascends from the low basement and opens onto the generous space of the living quarters, capped by a complex ceiling of pitched planes high above. At the core of the holiday home, where the separate wings branch off from the main body in plan, is the kitchen. Its countertop of glass fiber reinforced concrete is cantilevered into the center of the space and anchored by a two-sided fireplace at the other end. Steps go onto separate spaces for dining and relaxing by the suspended second fireplace.
The extruded form of the structure frames the spectacular views from within the cabin, while strategically positioned smaller openings along its volume provides glimpses of the immediate surroundings. The elevated levels of the living and dining areas provide its occupants with a high degree of privacy, further enjoyed by ample seating niches within the outer walls. The interior floor, walls and ceiling are homogenously lined with virtually knot-free joinery timber, while all opening frames are concealed or discrete. The attention to detail and high quality is comprehensive and coherent throughout the project.
Through sliding doors along the hallway of the narrow main body is each of the bedrooms as well as a bathroom with sauna. The master bedroom opens onto a gable-shaped window extruded through the side wall for an outlook onto the night sky, while each of the children’s bedrooms has a loft bunk bed for visiting friends. At the far end of the hall is the youth lounge and overhead mezzanine with views through the glazed gable end straight onto the ski slope.
The mountain lodge is a continuation of Norwegian building traditions in form and materiality, perched beautifully within its landscape and responding to its context.
Photos: Søren Harder Nielsen, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter
This cozy cottage is nestled in an idyllic spot among olive trees, with stunning views to the Sierra de Gredos mountains, Cáceres, Spain. The successful transformation of the home has been carried out by architect Alfonso Monteagudo, where the original structure was maintained and recovered materials resulted in a warm country home with discreet traditional details. The owners have opened their doors to turning this home into a vacation refuge called ‘Vaquería CantaElGallo.’
The home feature a discrete range of neutral paints, stucco walls, concrete ceilings with exposed wood and concrete floors that extends environments. This skillful handling of infallible tools such as color, light and coatings, transmits tranquility and order. The furniture, masonry and wood mostly define the country style but with a dose of tradition, and even notes through stately pieces brought from different parts of the world and rescued from antique shops.
The main entrance to the house is surrounded by nature, which seeps into the interior through the glass door and fixed window. That feeling of openness and blending with the environment is found in the continuity in the decoration through the materials.
Another special feature of this home is its distribution: a large central room where shared-use is the living room, dining room and kitchen — are attached two rooms designed as small apartments with living area and integrated en-suite bathroom. Each room worships comfort with simple and functional furniture, with complements of antique mirrors, earthenware containers or glass jars) that blend compositions full of charm. The luxury: space and simplicity.
Photos: Mi Casa
The Bronte House is a contemporary beach house perched high over the Pacific Ocean in Sydney, Australia, designed by Rolf Ockert Design. The client requested that the architect design a dream home that made them feel like being on a holiday every day, and while the view was fantastic, the site was very small and suffocated by overbearing neighboring dwellings. The finished house, though, feels generous and as if it is alone with the ocean and the sky.
Being tightly restricted by site conditions there were only two avenues we could take to create generosity of space and location: Firstly the surprising height of the living room space that takes advantage of the only extravagant spatial dimension available to us. And secondly the pursuit of sightlines to water and sky wherever possible. High side walls, for privacy but also to provide mass for a comfortable indoor climate, have continuous highlight windows for the enjoyment of 360° views of the sky. The large face concrete wall dominating the space has slim slot windows, allowing teasing glimpses of the ocean when entering the house while effectively cutting out the visual presence of the neighbor.
The house opens itself up completely to the East, the presentation of the stunning water views. This also allows the capture of the constant ocean breezes to cool down the house throughout the year, easily regulated by a plethora of ventilation options from sliding doors to operable louvers.
Sophisticated simplicity would be the most appropriate motto for the design of this house. Being on a very small block the client’s expectations of the generosity and design standard to be achieved required a very stringent approach. While the focus is naturally on the maximization of the enjoyment of the majestic ocean views it was the suburban context that drove most of the major design decisions: The slotted northern concrete wall, the solid southern facade, the high roof with its continuous strip of highlight windows and louvers.
The house has transformed the lives of the clients. Having stepped back from a high powered, high income lifestyle they now enjoy the beach life and pursuit of their new occupations, writer and therapist respectively. This lifestyle is partly funded by the renting out of the house to high caliber visitors. The architectural quality and enhancement of the ocean location through the design is essential for this to be possible.
A rich but reduced palette of strong, earthy materials, from the above mentioned concrete to Timber flooring and ceilings, rust metal finishes and thick, textured renders, contrasts with the fine detailing of the interior and anchors the residence against the airy, light aspect created by the opening to the views.
Photos: Sharrin Rees