COMFORT CASTLE

The idea for this house came to me in a dream. I live nearby, so I visited the hilly, wooded site many times at various times of the day, and walked it often before sketching anything. One night I had a dream of a castle, a ruin on a hill, where only the watch tower remained. I set that tower on our site, and I created an imaginary, romantic history for the house. I described it to my clients over dinner, and they were intrigued by the idea. The story goes like this: while they were exploring the hills, owners Pat and Jim came upon a mysterious ruin: a stone tower that was the only remaining piece of a larger structure. They bought the land, and over time they restored the stone tower and built new rooms around the tower’s base to create the house.

Pat and Jim presented me with some design challenges: no 90-degree corners in the house, and no doors. They wanted the house to fit in with its natural surroundings with views from every room, lots of glass, natural ventilation, and outdoor living spaces. I designed the house with the stone tower as the organizing element with the rest of the house as pie-shaped "pods" strung along the curving contour of the hill. The house is like a string of pearls laid in a shallow curve, each room slightly canted from the other, and each with a different view of the surrounding hills. Each pod opens onto its own deck.

Outside, the house has two faces: the front, public face is solid, closed and mysterious, with hardly any windows, although the curved "arms' on either side of the tower beckon the visitor with an open embrace. The rear of the house is all glass and open, with large overhangs for shade and wood decks for outdoor living. It embraces the outdoors. Inside, the entire ground level is floored in a wonderful flagstone, which warms the feel of the house and visually ties the rooms together, which flow into each other. The master bedroom suite is all open, with no walls between the bedroom and bath. A freestanding cylinder (the shower) and tall cabinet (the headboard) act as privacy partitions. And what about the "no doors" policy? OK, I used three doors: one for the pantry, one for the mechanical room, and one for the powder room.

This house was featured on the television series Homes Across America on HGTV.