Before the client approached Bob Gurney about building a home on his rural Virginia property, he had already built a barn for his horses there. “He put the barn where I would have put the house,” admits Gurney, describing the challenge of siting a home so it had great views of rolling pastures and woods. The client liked modern but was also fond of the farm vernacular of the Virginia countryside. Gurney responded with a modern, abstract farm house. Familiar forms are present and accounted for, but traditional details are rendered with large glass windows, cement board siding, and yes, a metal roof. The absence of trim sets the house firmly into the modern category, and the past-and-present mix continues in the interior, with quarter-sawn white oak flooring, walnut cabinets, a white marble mantelpiece, and large glass windows (using standard-sized ones helped offset the cost of the millwork and marble).
The traditional-modern combination is one of the most striking aspects of this home, but style isn’t a subject Gurney broaches in initial talks with clients. “We start by asking how the house will be lived in,” he says. “They know they’re getting a modern home, but how it will end up is as much of a surprise for them as it is for me.”
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