Home of the Year: A Study in Modern Organic Style
Sustainable materials—Spanish cedar, natural stone, slate, aluminum and zinc—were chosen for the exterior of the home. “We chose zinc for the roof because it lasts for generations, is very low-maintenance and ages well, to a lovely matte-gray patina,” Pollock says. Because windows are such an important element in the design of this home, energy efficiency was a must. Pollock chose a Low-E window glass that’s one-quarter of an inch thick.
Sustainable materials—Spanish cedar, natural stone, slate, aluminum and zinc—were chosen for the exterior of the home. “We chose zinc for the roof because it lasts for generations, is very low-maintenance and ages well, to a lovely matte-gray patina,” Pollock says. Because windows are such an important element in the design of this home, energy efficiency was a must. Pollock chose a Low-E window glass that's one-quarter of an inch thick.
The most difficult part of designing this four-level, 12,000-square-foot home was not the unusually shaped lot or the engineering of the foundation but the “entry sequence,” where the challenge was to make a smooth transition from vehicular traffic to pedestrian traffic. “The client didn't want to drive by the house in order to park,” Pollock says, “so we had to decide where to put the garage before we even designed the house.” The result is a transition from public to private spaces that is gentle, yet creates a sense of arrival that continues all the way up the Pennsylvania bluestone stairs leading to the home's front door.
Inside, tranquility reigns. The colors are taken from nature's palette—warm browns, taupes and ivories, with just a splash of minty green. Lines are clean but not sharp. Fabrics are linen, leather, wool, cashmere, angora and silk. DeGraeve calls his style “modern-organic.” While he likes the cool contemporary look, he wanted to use fabrics and woods that would make the house feel warm and welcoming “because we have long winters.” He chose teak, wenge and anegre for the floors, ceilings and some of the walls. “I've always been fascinated with wenge for its clean lines and with anegre because it is golden but not too yellow,” he says. “Teak has a soulful, Zen quality,” he adds. Recycled wood from dismantled Amish barns was applied to the walls and ceiling of the kitchen and to the ceiling of the dining room.
Most of the furniture in the home was created in Paris by Christian Liaigre, interior designer to celebrities such as Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Rupert Murdoch. “I liked the simplicity, the quality of his pieces and, especially, his use of materials,” DeGraeve says. In the living room, for example, the coffee tables and side table are covered with a linen that was stretched taut and finished with a polymer so it has the texture of linen but the hardness of wood. To select rugs, DeGraeve traveled to the Limited Edition showroom in Belgium with samples of the wood, stone and fabric he was using in the home. “They make a pom-pom out of silk and wool fibers that match the materials you've brought with you.” he says. “Seeing all the colors and textures together brings them to life and helps you visualize your finished rug.”
Bluegreen, an Aspen firm known for its modern and sustainable landscape designs, created a low-water, high-style planting plan. “We sourced plants that don't need a lot of water,” says Bluegreen's Sheri Sanzone. Because of the horizontal lines of the landscape's structures—the walls, terraces, pool and planting beds, all designed by Bluegreen—she specified strong vertical plants like Lamb's Ear, switch grass and liatris to create an interesting rhythm in the landscape.
“We completed the home in 20 months because I was on the job site every day,” DeGraeve says. “I drove myself and everyone else pretty hard but, in the end, we created something truly beautiful.”