Since last week’s feature was a late 19th century house, this week I chose a contemporary house designed by an architect for a 34 acre wooded site along Irish Creek. The site’s irregular parallelogram shape has a rounded corner that juts out into the water where the house and outbuildings are located for panoramic views of the creek. On the day I visited, I drove along a meandering gravel drive with several turns through the woods until the drive looped back upon itself at the front elevation. The house was well camouflaged in its wooded setting by the materials and finishes of light gray siding and light olive trim. As I walked up to the front door, I admired the massing of the house with its elongated form parallel to the creek and how one side wall of the house angled twice to lead the way to the entry door recessed under the roof line.
The house’s intricate massing varies from the one-story portions at each end of the house, sloped and hipped roofs and curved corners, the center two-story portion whose roof partially extends down over the kitchen area but whose front wall behind the rear wall of the circulation spine ends at the front and rear bedroom areas separated by the low sloped roof plane with skylights. When I opened the front door, I walked into the one-story foyer that intersects the circulation “spine” with endless vistas to the window wall of the breakfast room at one end and a window at the other end for views of the landscape.
The spine also divides the rear waterside rooms of living room, dining room, family room and the primary suite from the breakfast room, kitchen and two guest suites that share a hall bath at the front of the house. As I walked through the rooms, I gave the architect high marks for his manipulation of natural light by using clerestories, skylights and long windows with transoms to open up the spaces to nature. I especially liked how in the primary bedroom and other rooms he notched the ceiling at the outside corner to accommodate tall windows and transoms and how the flat ceiling plane over the primary bedroom’s sleeping area had a diagonal edge where it met the sloped ceiling over the corner side wall windows.
Across the foyer is the dramatic two-story living room with sliding doors and full height windows for views to the woods and water. The upper wall of the room has double unit windows spaced along the front and rear walls for treetop views below the ceiling geometry created by the intersecting roof planes clad in wood. One end wall is painted an accent color below the soffit defining the upper wall plane with an arched top accent window below the peak of the gable roof. The other end wall is clad in wood with the fireplace and TV above centered between the spine and the circular stair to the spacious bonus room with a half bath.
Behind the fireplace is the dining room with sliding doors and a full height window at the rear wall overlooking the landscape. In the other direction, the dining room extends over the spine to the kitchen. Wall openings above base cabinets at the kitchen side provide water views for the cook and the base cabinets become a perfect buffet space for entertaining. The “L” shaped kitchen has a center island and a sloped ceiling with a soffit over the front windows with both uplights at the ceiling edge and downlights for task lighting and skylights. The light green walls, dark cabinets, sleek hardware, white counters and the wood freestanding island with bar stools create a pleasant space for cooking. A wide cased opening from the kitchen leads to the breakfast room with its a row of butler pantry base cabinets and side angled wall with a and full height windows to the deck.
As an avid reader, my favorite space is the cozy sitting room at the rear corner of the house next to the living room with serene aqua walls, white millwork and triple unit windows and doors with transoms above and another triple unit window at the side wall for diagonal views of the landscape. This room extends beyond the dining and living room walls to match the rear wall of the primary suite. Connecting these rooms is a pergola leading to a spacious flagstone terrace with a low curved wall at the edge of the hardscape.
Walking back through the house, I continued along the spine between the rear primary suite and the front guest bedrooms and shared hall bath. The primary bedroom has transoms at the rear wall to echo the transoms of the sitting room at the opposite corner of the house. I liked how the side wall of closets and the bath at the opposite corner of the bedroom creates overlapping sleeping and sitting areas.
Off the breakfast room deck is a detached “pavilion” for myriad uses. Its distinctive shape has one side wall matching the front bedroom’s angled wall and the opposite corner is curved. I would be tempted to extend the roof over the deck to the pavilion and make the pavilion a screened porch as it offers panoramic views of the water and landscape. The property also has another outbuilding whose lower floor contains a two-car garage, workshop and a greenhouse any serious gardener would covet with its gable wall, wrap-around windows with transoms, lunette transom beneath the gable ridge and skylights on both sides of the ridge beam. The second floor is a delightful one-bedroom guest apartment with vaulted ceilings and French doors leading to a deck overlooking the water and landscape.
I would be quite content reading on the flagstone waterside terrace or the screened gazebo by the pool but for the sports minded among you, there is a sandy beach, pier, large Gunite pool, separate hot tub, sports court and a concrete basketball court that could be modified for pickleball.
Great contemporary design, one level living, floor plan zoned for privacy, detached pavilion for endless possibilities, charming and private guest apartment over the garage, pool and screened gazebo, all surrounded by 34 acres of privacy on Irish Creek in desirable Royal Oak!
For more information about this property, contact Cindy Browne with Benson and Mangold at 410-822-1415 (o), 410-476-7493 (c), or email@example.com. For more photographs and pricing, visit https://cindybrowne.bensonandmangold.com/, “Equal Housing Opportunity.”
Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.
Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.