The residence stands within a valley on a hilly site and emulates a generations-old family compound in Massachusetts. The program generated a large structure, yet the clients desired a building that looked unassuming and would fit into the landscape comfortably. The house accommodates bedrooms and living rooms that can be isolated from one another to be flexible for visitors. The design had to resolve issues of scale, an interest in vibrant color, and a certain formality within the rural setting while retaining a reserved character.
The“T”-shaped perimeter contains geometrical rooms arranged in an irregular configuration. One enters the foyer from a northern porch on the longitudinal axis. The living room is on the same axis to the south but a stair and fireplace block direct connection. Several convoluted routes through other rooms lead from the foyer to the southern room that opens to the valley with views on three sides. Doors give access to porticoes to the east and west.
The second floor contains the principal bedroom, a library, additional bedrooms, and a sleeping porch. All rooms have varied geometrical plans and are decorated to impart diverse themes and character. Each is lit and ventilated by dormers and gable windows. A top floor office forms an octagonal cupola that caps the main gambrel roof.
The appearance of the house combines aspects from many residential models. The gambrel roofs with sprung eaves derive from both Dutch-American farmhouses built along the Hudson River and the silhouettes of agricultural buildings in Wisconsin. The regional structures inspired the ochre and red coloration. Tuscan limestone columns support the porticos and sandstone boulders from the site are stacked to create piers for pergolas. The base of Fon du Lac stone recalls the limestone outcroppings of the region and Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of horizontal courses of native stone at nearby Taliesin. Palladio’s Villa Barbaro near Venice inspired the way in which the house emerges from the hillside into the valley.
The interior finishes and furnishings are coordinated in colors that harmonize with the landscape. The upholstery and drapery patterns, such as the grapevine patterns in the southern living room, reinforce themes in the landscape. For example, a reproduction of a nineteenth century pillar print contains grape vines and roses similar to those in the adjacent gardens. Such historical prints and weaves reinforce the play between formal and informal character developed in the architecture.
Many aspects of traditional architecture and interior decoration are fused to satisfy the functional and aesthetic desires of the client for a place of work and repose in a restful setting.