Let’s be honest: No architect likes HOA design guidelines. However, when my friend and client Marcia Weese bought a lot in a Carbondale sub-division, I knew that her aesthetic as an artist and designer meant that we would still have some fun working on it together.
Designing the house was a true collaboration. Marcia began with the vision of an open common room flanked by bedrooms on either side. I expanded this idea with two wings off the common room—one for the master suite and the second for guest rooms and an artist’s studio. This strategy allows Marcia to occupy a smaller portion of the house and not feel that half of it is empty, but more importantly, the wings create outdoor space that is welcoming at the entry while private in the back. Because I’m the daughter of a landscape architect, I’m always thinking about gardens; in our climate, there is nothing better than a southeast-facing terrace flowing directly out of the house. In this design, both the living room and master bedroom open directly onto such a space. Glazing that goes all the way to the floor reinforces the outdoor connection.
Overall, the house is composed of two gabled volumes connected by a low, glazed entry with slender steel columns and a yellow door. To produce the best thermal envelope possible and shorten construction time, we used structural insulated panel (SIP) construction and pre-manufactured roof trusses. Both systems served our vision of simple shapes and a minimalist interior. With a variety of truss profiles, each bedroom has its own gabled ceiling, painted different colors. The large volume of the main room suits Marcia’s artwork, and the walls and ceilings are smooth white plaster, a backdrop for the art and furniture. A window seat alcove, bookshelves, a fireplace, and a soffit over the kitchen with a deeply recessed window vary the space and create opportunities for accent colors and materials. Warm, polished concrete floors are unfazed by Lola, the dog, and are a handsome surface for the rugs Marcia designs under Weese Rugs.
I loved working with a designer on her home. Of course, Marcia and I wrangled over some decisions: I drew nine-foot walls, Marcia wanted ten; she was right. She wanted a 10-foot window in her bedroom, I said she would overheat; I was right. But in the end, we were both happy with the design and remain good friends. What more could you ask?
Olivia Emery is a co-founder of Carbondale’s A4 Architects.
Designing the house was a true collaboration.