Built on a stone outcropping, the guest house features cedar shingles and rough, hand-split shake roof shingles to help it “melt” into the landscape.
A prolonged stay with the folks is the subject of many a movie comedy, but not for the happy-to-oblige offspring whose visits to mom and dad include a stint in their two-bedroom, two-bathroom cedar-shingle guest house. What’s to be conflicted about? This divine design offers its guests both luxury accommodations and their privacy, sited a mere few steps down a winding path from the main residence.
After owning their Pound Ridge property for years, the homeowners turned to architect Laura E. Kaehler of Laura Kaehler Architects, LLC, in Greenwich, Connecticut, to design a 2,300-square-foot guest house for their grown children. The goal was for the structure to blend into the natural landscape. “They were very adamant that the structure not impact the environment,” says Kaehler, who imagined a “jewel-like building” growing out of the rock outcropping. “I wanted to give it drama by locating it near the edge of the slope, yet I was very sensitive not to overpower it.”
To achieve this, the architect designed the home using regional materials traditionally found in New England architecture, such as cedar shingles for the exterior walls and rough, hand-split shake roof shingles. For the base, she opted for large stones that appear to emerge from the rock outcropping. “Blending the base stone color and scale with the existing stone was very important,” Kaehler says.
During the design process, the clients returned from a trip to Southeast Asia filled with a design inspiration taking its cue from the region. To create that look, Kaehler focused on simple lines and forms found in Asian architecture. “My exterior is deliberately devoid of trim,” she explains. “I used ‘knife-edge’ roof overhangs and transparent corners at all windows to ‘melt’ the structure into the natural surroundings.”
Likewise, the interiors embrace the streamlined look with mahogany used for flooring and cabinetry, as well as for posts and beams. One large, public space with several different ceiling shapes was designed to be flexible in use. No trim detracts from the simple lines of the doors and windows. Instead, the architect used reveals (shadow lines created between surfaces) that emphasize the interior forms and volumes.
“This is the modern equivalent of the guest cottage,” says Greg Knudsen, a designer with New York City interior-design firm Timothy Macdonald Incorporated, who worked with Macdonald, Kaehler, and the homeowners to fuse minimalism with a modern viewpoint. “The architecture and the décor are sculptural, rather than purely decorative.” Their formula was to select furniture that didn’t overwhelm the architecture and to spice up the neutral palette with punches of color.
The result? A guest house with style, space, and substance, a literal home away from home.
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Photographs by Durston Saylor