A great view is a terrible thing to waste. These homes sure didn't make that mistake.

Design Details: Rooms With a View

A great view is a terrible thing to waste. These homes sure didn't make that mistake.

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    Brian Laskaris

    Located in a traditional subdivision, this waterfront home opens wide out back but is a bit more modest with its front elevation. Tall, skinny Pella windows surrounded by stone cladding maintain a degree of privacy from the street while offering peephole views through the house to the lake.
    Architect: archimania, Memphis
    Builder: McNairy County Construction, Selmer, Tenn.

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    Durston Saylor

    A patio trellis frames panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in this restored antebellum farm dating back to 1829.
    Architect: Mark P. Finlay Architects, Southport, Conn.
    Builder: Gibson/Magerfield Corp., Charlottesville

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    Will Austin

    Standing up to all kinds of weather, this lakefront home is skinned on two sides with durable standing seam metal. Then it softens in the middle with an inset front entry that’s clad in warm red cedar. Two sets of glass doors provide a telescopic view through the house to the water beyond.
    Architect: Ray Johnston Architects
    Builder: Schuchart Dow, Seattle

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    Paul Burk Photography

    Wander into Rock Creek Park in the northwest quadrant of the nation’s capital and it’s easy to forget you’re in the city. Perched under an old growth canopy of trees, this modest home makes the most of its vantage point with a screened porch that feels like a tree house.
    Architect: Cunningham Quill Architects
    Builder: RSB Builders, Baltimore

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    Warren Jagger

    Not a bad spot to stand and brush your teeth, eh? Even the second floor master bath in this coastal New England home enjoys panoramic views of the Atlantic.
    Architect: Estes/Twombly Architects, Newport, R.I.
    Builder: Highland Builders, Tiverton, R.I.

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    Tommy Crow

    This modest, Spanish-style townhouse is oriented along two axes that culminate in a center courtyard. The home’s entry hall is intentionally dark in contract to the sun-drenched oasis in the middle of the plan.  Decorative floor tiles and Andalusian archways direct the eye down the hall and back outside.
    Architect: Khoury & Vogt Architects, Alys Beach, Fla.
    Builder: Wave Construction, Rosemary Beach, Fla.

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    Courtesy Prentiss Architects

    Sited on the edge of a cliff, this renovated mid-century home allows its owners to take in the view from multiple vantage points – even when they’re in the shower. As part of the remodel, Prentiss Architecture moved the master suite from the basement to higher ground. It now sits on top of the roof of the original house.
    Architect: Prentiss Architects, Seattle
    Builder: Schultz Miller, Seattle

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    Erhard Pfeiffer

    This beachfront villa certainly takes its fill of sand and sea, but its architecture provides some nice eye candy, too. Features such as natural stone walls, filigreed iron railings, and climbing bougainvillea give the home a graceful presence. The arched colonnades and portals that appear at every turn form intimate frames for those details.
    Architect: Landry Design Group, Los Angeles
    Builder: Albino Construction, Culver City, Calif.

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    Bill Timmerman Photography

    This desert home is nested, side-saddle-style, between two mountain slopes. Rather than choosing one view over the other, the architects went for both with a steel and glass bridge that connects opposite wings of the house. The transparent walkway frames views of the landscape on both sides and creates an entry portal for the driveway.
    Builder: Linthicum Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Architect: Allen + Philp Architects/Interiors, Scottsdale

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    Michael Flower

    This custom home in the Berkshires has an abundance of bucolic views, and it makes sure none of them are wasted. Some of the vantage points are best enjoyed from breezy outdoor spaces. Others are framed with oversized Jeld-Wen picture windows like this one. The dark floor-to-ceiling bookcases on either side help to shape the window as a focal point.
    Builder: Albert J. Cummings General Contractor, Williamstown, Mass.
    Architect: Burr and McCallum Architects

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    Michael Burns Photography

    These lanai-style condos aren’t exactly waterfront property, but they enjoy Pacific views over the rooftops of their neighbors, thanks to terraced site grading. (The name “papali” is Hawaiian for “little series of cliffs.”) The 24 residences in this community are arranged on four “benches” that step down the hillside, with 16-foot vertical separations between them.
    Architect: Weinstein A|U Architects + Urban Designers, Seattle
    Builder: Absher Construction Co., Puyallup, Wash.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Situated in the heart of Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, this 12-story, steel and concrete LEED-certified building offers loft units with 10-foot-high ceilings, exposed ductwork, and concrete pillars. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow stunning views of the urban landscape as well as maximum daylight.
    Architect: Mithun, Seattle
    Builder: JE Dunn, Kirkland, Wash.

Just because it’s got a great view doesn’t mean it’s a great house. But a killer view squandered is certainly a waste of precious resources. In the same way a good photographer uses the camera’s viewfinder as a tool for framing beautiful vistas, serene coastlines, or vibrant cityscapes, a good builder does the same thing – except with wood, glass, metal, stone, and any other number of materials.

As the saying goes, you work with what ya got, right?  Here are some finely crafted homes from around the nation that use architecture as an aperture. Each was thoughtfully oriented and built to savor its environment.