Getting the scale of this multigenerational retreat just right was the big challenge for architect Stephen Muse. The client was a large family of very tall people who wanted plenty of elbow room as well as room to grow. “They wanted a place that would be there forever, where the kids could eventually come back with their own families,” Muse says. A secondary objective was to protect the 200-acre property—a working farm—from encroaching suburban development.
Sited on a knoll with pristine views of rolling hills, woods, and a pond, the 18,473-square-foot house settles into the landscape much as a lanky body might ease into a chair. A central hipped block containing a formal stair, living room, and dining room connects to a series of pavilions housing the plan’s more casual spaces. Mansard-roofed hyphens connect each pavilion to the main block, creating the appearance of an estate that’s been added onto over generations. The house is big, but it doesn’t feel massive. The narrow anatomy of its appendages keeps spaces feeling comfortable (not cavernous), with the added benefits of cross-ventilation and natural lighting.
Making a statement that is both gentle and genteel, the residence also features geothermal heating and cooling, 2-pound foam insulation, reclaimed wood floors, and locally sourced fieldstone. “You can be green without looking like what most people think green needs to look like,” Muse says. Especially if you build something that’s meant to last forever.
CATEGORY: Custom one-of-a-kind, more than 10,000 square feet
ENTRANT/ARCHITECT: Muse Architects, Bethesda, Md.
BUILDER: Horizon Builders, Crofton, Md.
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Graham Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, Md.
INTERIOR DESIGNER: Carroll A. Frey Interiors, Baltimore