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.

Warming Trend

  • palo alto residence, palo alto, calif.architect: ccs architecture, san franciscobuilder: k welton inc. palo alto

    Open Passage

    To cozy up a wide, white transitional space, use it to showcase belongings that matter--like books. An entryway that is sheltered yet...

  • osprey house, osprey, fla. architect: sweet sparkman architects, sarasota, fla.builder: michael k. walker & associates, sarasota

    Sense of Place

    Varied ceiling heights and wood trim give an open kitchen-dining-living area a sense of definition and enclosure. Engineered wood flooring...

  • lake forest park house, lake forest park, wash.architect: finne architects, seattlebuilder: schultz miller,seattle

    Warm Heart

    Many elements make up Lake Forest House, but the result is clean. "Modernism stripped of detail isn't an avenue I'm interested in going...


Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.