Highlands, NC Residence

Our featured project this week comes from Highlands, North Carolina.

Within a golf community, the site was heavily forested and included an EPA-governed stream which pushed the house close to the street.  There was little room to transition from road, to driveway, to woodland-facing privacy.  Naturally, the house would stretch horizontally along the stream, and this established the home’s most prominent feature: the long rear porch, accessible from all the public spaces in the house.

Wanting to integrate architecture with surroundings, we turned for inspiration to a similar landscape and the style which grew out of the turn-of-the-century resort hotels of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  Firmly in the Victorian tradition but more relaxed and practical, these structures were designed around views and kept detailing simple, wanting not to compete with the real beauty: the landscape.

Details such as distinctive double rafters with radius tails, repetitive white-painted bracket-work along second level dormer windows and pinned mortise-and-tenon connections at open gable framing are visually interesting as well as expressions of the true structure and therefore impart an honesty that best fits a mountain setting.   Deep roof eaves that “hug” the house and a stone foundation that turns into multiple retaining walls set around the property help to “seat” the house in the hillside down to the stream.

Keeping the master suite on the first level made good sense for future accessibility, and was located away from the main mass of the house to afford its own private views of the forest, especially from the master bath tub, in its own bay.  Like an anchor, a massive stone chimney supports three fireplaces, one of which at the rear screened porch, making a comfortable four-season experience.  The mastersuite is partitioned from the public spaces by a parlor which doubles as an office and has its own fireplace.

Due to the one-story massing, the house hides from the exterior that it supports virtually a full second floor and, in total, five bedrooms; two of which are large enough to accommodate two full-size beds.  This is a house with an intimate feeling for a couple celebrating their retirement, but large enough to accommodate a growing family.

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