Design Parti! Smith Mountain Lake Living

“No fish and no gum today?”

I was sorry to disappoint Pete for our design discussion, but I was indeed empty handed except for my notebook and pen. I reluctantly shook my head. With his usual cheer and chuckle, Pete continued, “That’s okay, Megan. Next time…both.”

I had sequestered Pete on the porch this sunny afternoon to learn more about a large lake home project the team had designed. It was raised late last year on Smith Mountain Lake and, rumor has it, is steadily nearing completion.

An early rendering of the Smith Mountain Lake project.

“I can’t say I’m feeling very linguistic today,” Pete admitted. It turned out he had been doing sheer wall calculations, which meant crunching numbers, all morning. Regardless of a head full of figures and formulas, we managed a good conversation diving into details of the design/build for this family vacation home. I even learned a new term:

“It all starts with a parti,” Pete began. I wasn’t aware of project parties, but that sounded good to me. This elicited a big smile and shake of the head from Pete. “No, not a party, a parti or parti pris—the central design idea we develop with the homeowners and then use to define, build, and detail a home. We constantly test our designs against this theme to be sure we’re creating in the right direction. In this case, the parti narrowed down to creating a home that sits nicely into the landscape, accepts and welcomes upon arrival, has great views and lake access while providing space where all of the family could be together comfortably under one roof.”

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Growing Up: Creating Volume in a Small Footprint

While site constraints are common with any project, this particular building site on Otsego Lake demanded that any new structure fit within the previous camp’s footprint – no larger, no change in orientation, no closer to the shore. However, there was opportunity to play with the height of a new project and always room for thoughtful use of space.

building sectionThe Southeast side of Ostego Lake is forever wild. The Northeast is home to a state park, the Western side is a large, privately owned estate. Thanks to good timing several years back, the client purchased this site with an existing three-season camp, on the Northwestern end of the lake. Removal of the old three-season camp revealed a tight 24′ x 31′ footprint.

sat view site otsego lake

Our design team began the journey to ‘grow up’ on the site by understanding the desires and needs of the client—a father looking to create a four-season, multi-generational family get-away. A sleek mountain-lake aesthetic provided the starting point for a taller, multi-level cottage design. With the lake as a major focal point, contemporary, horizontally mulled rectangular windows were combined with non-mulled square windows for ample views and abundant natural light. A split shed roof will allow the project to stay within height restrictions while creating a clerestory to bring southern light into the upper-level bedroom spaces. “I really like the simplicity and functionality of the split shed roof and I’m excited to see it come to life,” said Pete, lead Architect on this project.

clerestory timber frame small lake home

“We knew making the most of the site would likely result in a very “flat” exterior aesthetic. To add dimension we’re incorporating a combination of vertical and horizontal siding in a mixture of materials along with varying the depth of the roof overhangs,” continued Pete.

main level floorplan timber frame otsego lake

The design suggests setting the project further down into the site to provide parking access at the roadside, rather than lakeside as the camp had previously been oriented. This will provide more “green space” on the lake side of the site, however, it creates an interesting entry point that is situated ‘between’ the main and upper levels. The entrance includes a larger landing with a bench and connections to two staircases: one that leads down to the main level commons and another that proceeds upwards to the bedrooms.

timber frame entry lake otsego home

Timber runs from the ground level up, enabling the creation of visual breaks throughout the project’s open spaces with strategically placed structural timber frame posts and beams. Overall the design plays out to 2,000 sq ft with bedrooms, including a master with private balcony, on the upper level, main living on the mid-level, and a guest suite plus lake access from the lower level. Pete and team are continuing to finalize this design, adjusting to meet both client and additional zoning requirements. We can’t wait to see the home as it comes to fruition. Tell us about your dream timber frame.

Nestled in Vermont

vermont timber frame rendering apr 2017

In our experience, homes are most successful when they adapt, age, and grow with their inhabitants. It’s always pleasing when we can plan ahead for changes, such as transitioning a weekend vacation space to full-time home. Hank and Julie have given us such an opportunity. The couple has a delightful build site in Fayston, VT and enlisted our team to design their vacation home, which will eventually become their full-time retirement retreat.

Sublime views of Slidebrook Basin between north and south ski areas of Sugarbush Resort guided the overall home orientation, and specifically the great room layout, for Hank and Julie’s project.

view of sugarbush

Careful consideration was also given to the traditional Vermont farmhouse vernacular. The design acknowledges this aesthetic with a main gable roofline that intersects with an asymmetrical salt box gable roofline. It incorporates the couple’s desire for mountain-rustic style with mixed exterior materials and subtle timber elements. The corner of the home’s “L” shaped layout is defined with a stair tower that has evenly stacked windows and will feature shou sugi ban siding.

The stair tower anchors the corner of the home's "L" shaped layout.

The stair tower anchors the corner of the home’s “L” shaped layout.

With a combination of woodlands and open agricultural space, the site will allow the home to be set partially within the trees at the end of a curving drive through open land. A banked garage is angled into the hillside, giving the front of the home a modest street-side facade.

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Meeting individual needs is always a design driver which, for this project, lead our team to incorporate a craft room on the lower level walk-out. This space was a must-have to support Julie’s non-profit and grassroots organization, Sewpportive Friends. The group creates kits vital to feminine hygiene for young girls and women in Zimbabwe; a necessity for both health and education. We can’t tell the story as well as the Sewpportive website and blog. Julie will be headed back to Zimbabwe with a team this July to distribute to more schools and villages. We’re excited for their continued success.

sewpportive web

Hank and Julie are avid outdoor enthusiasts leading to another need: storage. Large storage on the lower level will be used for housing/maintenance of skis, hiking gear, canoes, snowshoes, and other equipment. Walk-out access eases the transition to/from nature with or without gear.

Phippen LOCAL1

“We are having a very enjoyable time working with Ty, Pete, and the rest of the NEW crew. Their focus on creating a relationship with us, rather than making a transaction, is evident in their overall approach to the design/build work: from their site visit to our VT property, our trip to the NEW facility in Farmington, NY, and all additional communications. They are inspired, honest and professional. They understand that attention to what WE want in our house is of utmost importance, and are happy to share their knowledge and experience by providing creative ideas that we could explore or not.” – Hank and Julie.

An overall open floorplan ensures a relaxed, easy, flow when family and friends visit to sample local Vermont brews and views. It also allows for commanding views of the surrounding landscape from all common spaces.

Phippen LOCAL - 3D View - 3D View 14

We sat down with Pete, lead designer for Hank and Julie’s home, who explained that a key to open floor plans is accentuating areas with details, often flooring or in this case, with timber. Overall the timber frame directs views and differentiates spaces. In Hank and Julie’s home, two keyed beams flank the dining room and kitchen island (image below). This change in ‘ceiling’ visually separates the spaces from the great room which features canted queen post trusses with curved bottom chords (image above). Pete continued to verbally draw the home, describing flitch beams, a combination of steel and timber, used in the lower level to create a larger clearspan while defining the circulation of space from the family room. Moving up two levels, he noted that guest rooms have bunk loft beds over the closets, a fun feature that will likely be a fascinating novelty for kids and adults alike.

Phippen LOCAL - 3D View - 3D View 12

Other build details include roof SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and our Matrix Wall enclosure. We’ll be raising the frame this summer and working with Brothers Building of Waitsfield, VT to complete the project.

The home will include a master suite, craft room, great room, game room, and ample storage. 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

The home will include a master suite, craft room, great room, game room, and ample storage. 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

Many thanks to Hank and Julie for the kind words and for allowing us to be part of your project!

 

Harmony on the Hudson: The Olsen’s Timber Home Retreat Story

olsen-interiorTimber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.

The Olsen’s story, and the Welcome Home Series, begins with the land…

Part 1: From Dream to Design
The Olsen’s begin designing their dream home on land they’d been spending vacation time visiting for 10 years. Harmony with the land and the family was a must.
view-from-olsenPart 2: Laying The Groundwork
Breaking ground – an exciting day, especially with a few last minute modifications.

groundbreaking-olsenPart 3: Built to Last
Our team raises the frame and the Olsen family watches their dream home take shape.
olsen-raisingPart 4: Worth the Wait
Weather delays…but not for long!
olsen-in-snowPart 5: Lessons Learned
Communication proves vital in the build process for sticking to the plan and modifying.
solar-array-olsenPart 6: Elements of Surprise
Nearing completion, creativity and flexibility lead to modified plans.
olsen-porchPart 7: The Big Finish
Mixed materials, including reclaimed wood, make a statement on the interior and exterior of the Olsen Home.
olsen-custom-cabinetry-reclaimed-floorPart 8: The Great Escape
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout,” says Greg Olsen.
olsen-porch-exteriorolsen-exterior-timber-frame-reclaimed-sidingOur notes:
When Greg and Dee approached us to craft their family’s timber frame retreat we knew it was going to be fun. Their philosophy fit with ours: they wanted to strike a balanced design, a home in harmony with the site that was as environmentally conscious as possible. Eliminating VOCs, incorporating reclaimed and organic materials, and a solar array were “must have” elements. Planning on large family gatherings and lots of cooks in the kitchen, there is ample party space with unobstructed southern views of the Catamount and Butternut Mountains. Screened and covered porches blur the line between interior and exterior spaces.

The resulting home celebrates a variety of reclaimed and storied wood: the timber frame is crafted from reclaimed Douglas fir; flooring is reclaimed Walnut on the upper level and reclaimed Teak on the lower level; wall paneling is reclaimed barn siding; reclaimed beech was used to create custom bed frames, night stands, and built-ins. Much of the cabinetry and built-ins, including the Ash kitchen cabinetry, was made by our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks. The kitchen island includes a “waterfall” of walnut as a prep/presentation area while the adjacent dining table seats up to twelve.

From Dream To Design – Part 1 in the Welcome Home Series

Timber Home Living Magazine is documenting each step in the design/build process for the Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home in Austerlitz, NY. Online and print articles will cover the home’s journey from architectural planning, to the frame raising, to enclosure, to completion.

Part 1, below, can be found in the October issue on sale now.
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