The great room, with windows that frame views to the street and a wooded backyard, may be the best room in this house. The first thing you see upon entering the house, it's bound to make a strong impression on visitors. With its 20-foot ceiling and warm fireplace, this is a place where people will want to linger. "The volume is important because it adds to the sense of arrival," says Looney, who used volume sensibly in this design.

A grandiose 24 by 19 square feet, the great room serves as a central hub for the house, eliminating the need for hallways. It's open to the kitchen and dining room, and it affords a supervisory view of the communications room. It's also adjacent to the master suite.

Nature inspired the great room d cor. The walls, Temple's extra-wide Stretch 54 coated in a Sherwin Williams Khaki Shade, are complemented by sturdy oak flooring from Bruce Hardwood Floors. The dramatic Heatilator fireplace is surrounded by a cultured stone accent, a composite cement hearth with a black Zodiaq surround from Dupont, and a rough-sawn solid cypress mantle. The television is hidden away in a built-in cabinet.

The dining room may be the most versatile room in the house. It doubles as a library or homework space. It can also be closed off entirely for formal occasions. Standard molded doors were doweled together to create 6-foot-wide pocket doors.

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