Designed by two architects for their retirement, this compound is sited on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River, and comprises an extensive list of features including: a guesthouse, greenhouse, orchard, ballet studio, wood-working shop, root cellar, and secret passage within the main house.
After tearing down the pre-existing house, the new project was built in seven steps, six of which are now complete. The owners, an architect and former professional ballerina turned architect, wanted to feel fully integrated with nature. The home’s earthy colors, stone exteriors, zinc roofing, and curving shapes are at harmony with the natural surrounds. Even the windows have fanciful plant shaped muntins, and the stone walls curve in an alliance with the river. The home is heated and cooled by a geothermal system. It is super insulated and does not require direct use of fossil fuels.
Both the guesthouse and main house command panoramic views of the river. The whole complex, including the two barns, assumes a low, horizontal profile of gently sloping roofs, which merge with the site and recall rolling hills in the distance. A cedar trellis provides an ambiance cooled by breezes; redolent with the fragrance of flowers; soothed by the sounds of a fountain, rustling leaves, and birds in song; brushed with the tactile texture of stone; and dappled by the filtered light of the afternoon sun.
The house can be lived in, on, and all around, expressing a freedom of movement. Handmade by the owners, dancing flowers frame display niches, while berries adorn the bay windows, and a graceful swan neck provides a newel post. A sculpture of a sentinel mountain lion, made by a friend, gazes out to the horizon. A painted frieze surrounds the dance studio depicting the owners’ favorite illustrator.
Not only is this project a magnificent home, it is also an example of an intricate and memorable living experience, one that engages all of the senses.