High impact

It's not just the barn-red exterior of this modern house that signals change it's also the completely remodeled, light-filled interior
Story by: Colleen Hawkes Photography by: Doug Snower
View of this contemporary dining room ceiling, floor, flooring, hardwood, house, interior design, living room, loft, property, real estate, room, wood flooring, brown
View of this contemporary dining room

The 1970s were not exactly renowned for architectural advances. Even so-called modern houses were designed with a nod to tradition dark beams and millwork gave many houses a '50s country club look that was quite at odds with what was happening on the exterior.

This house, in a natural woodlands setting, typified that design approach. The new owners Peter and Caroline Repenning say the house was very dark and did not have an easy flow between rooms. It was also dominated by a large circular staircase of heavy dark wood.

Architects Jim Nagle and Rocco Castellano of Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Penney Architects say the once-gray exterior was also dreary and the house had become something of an eyesore.

"The entrance was not instantly obvious or inviting there was a large wall and an awkward access that made the house seem unwelcoming. Addressing the landscaping and the front of the house was critical," says Nagle.

To better signpost the entry, the team added a fixed awning, and the landscape was redesigned by Scott Byron & Co so there are trees framing the house and large boulders defining the path to the door. Because the house sits on a flood plain, it was necessary to put in place extensive drainage solutions, which have already proved effective.

Painting a barn-red wood stain on the house was probably the most significant visual change, however. The color introduces a vibrancy and sense of drama to the house this is especially noticeable on a large wall with diagonal siding. There are also red accents inside the house that provide visual continuity.

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Entrance to this contemporary home

Nagle says many windows were altered to provide improved light and views and to create a more dynamic aesthetic.

"We needed to re-address the rhythm of the windows on the facade," he says. "We added and removed windows to ensure these would be in harmony with the architecture."

Castellano says the interior was completely gutted and refinished a process that involved considerable structural strengthening.

"We had to rebuild the entire second floor and introduce new tube steel columns to relieve pressure on the 20ft-high windows," he says.

The main stairway was also replaced with sleek stainless steel stairs with oak treads.

"The original stairway was monumental, and did not fit with the owners' desire for a crisp, clean and uncluttered interior," says Castellano. "It was not appropriate for the new streamlined aesthetic."

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Kitchen within this home

Working closely with interior designer Martha Pickrell, the architects created a clean-lined, light-filled living area that maximizes the room's double-height volume. A new fireplace with a cantilevered hearth and stainless steel surround replaces a vast copper chimney hood that extended the full height of the room.

Wide openings allow an easy flow to a formal dining space and adjacent library, which features extensive built-in shelving and sleek cabinets with touch door latches.

A wall between the kitchen and family room was removed to connect these two spaces and a new galley-style Bulthaup kitchen installed. To match the light wood of other built-in cabinetry, the kitchen cabinets are a light oak veneer. This is paired with stainless steel countertops that help keep the look cool and contemporary.

The extensive changes on the second floor better suit the needs of the empty-nester couple. Three small bedrooms were replaced by a generously sized guest suite. The master suite also underwent a design transformation. New windows were installed in the bedroom to maximize the wooded outlook. In addition, a line of clerestory windows were introduced to the master bathroom. These provide a glimpse of the treetops from the bed. The band of windows also helps to break up the massive scale of the exterior wall, says Nagle.

"The master suite is above the large garage," he says. "And although this was added after the house was originally constructed, it is seamlessly integrated with the rest of the interior."

May 11, 2010

Credit list

Interior designer
Martha Pickrell Interiors
Landscape designer
Scott Byron & Co
Edward A Anderson Co
Oak; limestone
Kitchen cabinets
Bulthaup System 25 in oak veneer
Kitchen faucets
Bulthaup matte nickel
Bathroom vanity
New Visions Custom Cabinets & Millwork
Bedroom chairs
Eames from Edelman
Kitchen designer
Harold Skulte, Bulthaup
Structural engineer
CE Anderson
Cedar, stained red
Paints and varnishes
Sherwin- Williams; Benjamin Moore
Countertops and backsplash
Stainless steel
Oven, cooktop, ventilation and dishwasher
Bar stools
Bulthaup Duktus
Ebonized oak, designed by Martha Pickrell Interiors; fabricated by Johnson Custom Cabinets
Bedroom drapes
Rogers & Goffigon Whisper linen by Parenteau Studio
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