Forest House

Forest House landscape view


An engaging project from the start, the clients approached the building of their new home in an open and creative spirit allowing great license in the both the design and construction. They selected a beautiful piece of property on a remote forested hillside with extensive views. The initial design discussions centered on several guiding requests; chief among them was an interest in a large central kitchen with an extensive cooking surface. This was closely followed by a strong interest in having several large outdoor living areas that blurred the line between exterior and interior and played to the strengths of the natural setting.


The design of the home sought to create a strong connection to the forested hillside setting in the most dynamic way possible, while blending form and function as one. One of the most dominate features of the home is the extensive use of multiple angles that interweave the walls, railings, windows and trim in a stylized mimicry of the forest. The house was designed as a whole without a strong central façade and with the interior and exterior working together to create the same effect.

The initial program called for a two story home with bedrooms on the second floor and an open kitchen, dining room and foyer on the first, with both stories connected by a central living area. The final design accomplished this as a U-shape. Each leg of the U is a separate wing full-filling different functions. At the center is an expansive 28’ tall great room connecting the wings with a suspended walkway. One wing serves in a more functional role, and contains the garage, mechanicals, and foyer on the first floor with kid’s bedrooms and baths on the second. While the opposite wing houses the kitchen and dining room on the first floor, with the master bedroom, bath, office and library upstairs.

In addition to accomplishing the basic program, the U-shape creates two central focuses within the space that play to the strengths of the site. On the one hand, it engages in the extensive vista with several decks and patios that wrap the outer circumference and create an expansive outward focus that frames the wide hill-top view. And alternatively, it creates an inward focus, centered on an inner and more intimate courtyard. Both outward facing decks and patios, and the inner courtyard connect to the interior space with an array of large sliding glass doors and windows. This coupled with the use of a stainless steel railing system for the overhanging balconies and decks, expands the feeling of space and dissolves the barriers between interior and exterior.

One of the most significant spaces in the home is the kitchen, which rests at the heart of the first floor. The kitchen has two layers; an inner functional core wrapped by a large outer entertainment bar. At the center is the range. It consists of six burners, grill and wok that together form an eight foot cooking surface. The extensive cooking area is vented by a large custom range hood. The hood is built from mahogany and visually connects with the raised mahogany butcher-block counter-top and the mahogany tongue & grove ceiling. The central work-island is made of stainless steel with an integrated sink and the outer bar makes use of black-green granite.

A dramatic feature of the house is the exterior fireplace patio (the fire ledge) that overlooks an integrated waterfall and adjoins an outdoor cooking area containing a wood-fired pizza oven and sink. The stone fireplace rises 25’ to the roof and is centered on a bridge that crosses in front of the falls.


The construction proved challenging and required several creative solutions in order to accomplish the design. With the house site established, the first stage of construction involved the development of a mile long road. The property originally maintained a rough access road linking several oil and gas wells. The new road connected to and expanded this original road. It traverses the hillside at a 5% grade and contains several dramatic views of the surrounding hillsides. In conjunction with the road, utilities were also brought to the site. A trench was developed that roughly follows the road and contains: water, sewer, natural gas, electric, and fiber-optic.

One of the biggest challenges of the construction was raised by the extensive use of multiple wall, window and trim angles. A feature of the home that rippled throughout the construction process and required the use of several unconventional solutions. The first such challenge rested in the relative layout of the masonry and framing walls. The complex relationship was realized by using a computer generated layout that provided precise dimensions and allowed for the cross reference of multiple angles. The use of the computer in both the design and construction ensured a high level of accuracy that would have been difficult to realize using conventional construction methods.

Insulation was another challenge raised by the layout. The framing that resulted from the angles and “window walls”, created the potential for high air infiltration and seam loss. In response to this, closed-cell polyurethane spray foam was used. The closed cell foam adheres to the framing and expands within the wall cavities to provide an extremely effective infiltration barrier. In addition to having a high r-value, the foam is also structural and works as a sound barrier.

Another challenge of the construction rested in the electrical and lighting system. The home has an open layout with few walls many of which are mostly glass. This restricted wall space prevented the use of large banks of switches required by the multiple circuits within the closely related interior and exterior spaces. To solve this, a simple and flexible radio controlled lighting system was used allowing several circuits to be controlled from a single location. This smart lighting system incorporates the use of programmed lighting scenes. These scenes connect several circuits and allow lights within a space or even the entire house to be turned on and off and dimmed in concert, producing lighting that can be quickly and easily adapted to the current mood and/or use of the space. The radio lighting system is also capable of interfacing digitally, allowing the entire lighting and security system to be programmed and controlled from a laptop or smart phone.


Local Field Stone, Mahogany Ceilings, Porcelain Tile, Granite & Stainless Steel Countertops, Stainless Steel Cable Railings, Marvin Windows, Red Birch Cabinets, Red Birch & Mahogany Interior Trim, Western Red Cedar Exterior Trim, Cement Board Siding, Closed-Cell Polyurethane Spray Foam Insulation, Radiant Heating and Snowmelt.

Cast & Crew