AB Highway Residence, West Plains, Mo. Architect:  Core10 Architecture, St. Louis

Builder: Feller Construction, West Plains

“St. Louis is a traditional, historic kind of place,” says architect Tyler Stephens, who uses A Field Guide to American Houses to help indecisive clients figure out what kind of home they want. “Ninety percent of the time, when we get to the colonial revival section, that’s it,” he says. “‘Father of the Bride’ or ‘The Philadelphia Story.’”

But the owners of AB Highway Residence were different. In an initial meeting, Stephens went through the entire guide, from stick style to Beaux Arts to Tudor. Nothing spoke to his clients. “When that happens, I turn to the back of the book—International style and California modern,” he says. “When I got to mid-century, their faces lit up. So I pulled out a book on modern architecture, and off we went.”

Given the wide open site—prairie on one side, woods on the other—the owners wanted big, long roof planes. But concerns about budget and snow loads prevented building a modern flat roof. Instead, Stephens opted for as low a slope as he could manage “without making the house look like a 1970s ranch,” he says. He designed the roof around a traditional truss that can take on different angles throughout the house but still be built inexpensively. The overhang along the southwest side is almost 6 feet—beautiful and practical protection from the sun. “Turning the soffits up was a way to make the roof lighter and get the feel of a flat roof,” he notes, while the cedar warms up what’s essentially a glass box. The house looks like it’s about to take flight; it also appears to float thanks to the cantilevered porch.

To maximize light play, walls and ceilings were painted white and concrete floors were impregnated with orange-brown tones. Even the copper rain chains—a necessity because of the roof lines and soffits—add warmth, playing off the streamlined exterior.

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