Originally constructed in the 1950’s, the Hemlock Hill Residence was a post-WWII developer-colonial that, over its lifetime, has undergone a series of piecemeal additions. The resulting house as we initially encountered it was a pastiche of styles and details, incoherent both in its layout and its materiality. The client asked us to give the house a more contemporary look and open up the floor plan to bring better flow to the interior spaces. Predominantly traditional houses surround the property, so a ‘transitional’ design approach was employed on the exterior, where we strived to bring a sense of unity and simplicity to the project. The addition introduces an ordered symmetry, mirroring the existing living room footprint to create a family room, and elongating the second floor to create a balanced massing between the upper and lower levels. The palette of the house has been streamlined both inside and out. On the exterior, simple stucco walls and vertical cedar boards replace brick veneer and shingle siding.
On the interior, finishes were pared down to clean white walls accented with walnut and oxidized metal. Here the newly conceived core of the house—the dining room—is rendered as a ‘jewel box’ / ‘white art box.’ The room floats in the middle of the house presenting an external shell of white walls on which the client displays her stunning art collection. The box encases an opulent interior space that is, by contrast, clad from floor to ceiling in lacquered walnut panels. This simple move serves to spatially and materially reinforce the room’s central role in the social spaces of the house—a pivot point for activity, a fixed reference point for the new open plan, and a focal point connecting views through the expansive glass walls to the rear landscape and river/pond beyond.
A key premise of the project is the idea that landscape design and interior design are a fundamentally integral part of an architectural vision. Joeb Moore & Partners provided design services aimed to address all constituent facets of the project under a unified design concept, such that the landscape, the interior furnishings, and the architecture itself all support and enhance one another. From pavers and plantings to tables and chairs to windows and walls, the project was envisioned as a mechanism for contemporary living: simple, modern, functional and exquisitely beautiful.
Photography by © Durston Saylor