Soon after the birth of their second son, the principals of Atelier 11 Architects decided it was time to move from their home in Easton’s Historic District to give their young sons the opportunity to grow up in the country. They found an ideal farm property on eighteen acres in Talbot County. Then the parents focused their considerable creative talents to design a new house for their family. Concurrently with the house design, they also added a pond by the tall willow tree, stocked it with fish, added a heritage orchard with trees selected to bear fruit at different times throughout the summer season and a walking trail.
The two-and a half brick farmhouse in the Federal style was built on a raised foundation. That height and the retaining wall at the driveway edge by the three car garage ensures that parked cars are not visible from inside the house. I loved how the two architects combined the simple box form clad in red brick with the side gabled roof inspired by the Federal style with a twist of contemporary details. At each end of the gable end walls, the chimney breaks through the gable. The flues are located at each side of the chimney which allowed the architects to place a center window in the finished part of the attic and a decorative grille above to keep the upper attic vented. The brick sides of the chimney and the brick below the windowsill are corbeled out beyond the wall below for a great dramatic effect with shadow lines on the walls to enliven the façade. The garage resembles a farm outbuilding with its white board and batten vertical siding, oversize green doors with glass panes and a lean-to shed.
Instead of a center door, the two architects cleverly placed the entry at the corner and recessed it to create a porch with steps leading down to the parking area. A white cast concrete lintel extends over the opening to create a header for a small multi paned window next to a wide bay window with white board and batten vertical siding. The corner column on a high base, the wood ceiling and the wood entry door with a full height sidelight create a welcoming entrance.
Instead of Federal style 6/6 double hung windows, the ground floor windows are casements with horizontal mullions only and perfectly proportioned transoms to flood the spaces with light. The sizes of the second floor windows match the ground floor windows to maintain the symmetry of the elevations. The window surrounds are cast stone and the metal roof completes the low maintenance exterior.
The architects added interior details to delight their young children, such as the ladder / bookshelf in the kitchen pantry that leads to a secret hatch to the “Circle Room” above. One of the plinths in the foyer has a false top for another space for hide and seek. A small door high in a wall of one of the children’s bedrooms leads to a play area above the washer dryer below.
When their children were entering high school, the architects sold the house to the current owner who added their personal touches to the interior. The entrance hall furnishings of two deep blue curvy chairs between a hall table and the collection of different sized framed pieces is carefully staggered to create a wall of art. The living room is flooded with light from the front wide bay window and two long windows with transoms whose trim is just below the ten foot ceilings. The architects had placed the fireplace at the corner to make it a focal point. The owners’ furnishings are arranged under the windows and around the corner curved fireplace for a wonderful sitting room. Touches of Oriental design are used throughout the house including the antique doors between the entrance hall and the sitting room.
The adjacent dining room also has a fireplace and the long dining table is centered in front of the double window and surrounded by an upholstered banquette with additional chairs. French doors on the side wall add more daylight and lead to the terrace. Another curved corner fireplace is a perfect spot for a date night dinner a deux by the fire.
The kitchen is an “Ell” to the house and I loved its sleek contemporary style, large pantry instead of upper cabinets, the dark wood base cabinets contrasting with the white countertop that flows around the white farmhouse sink and the stainless steel appliances. The long kitchen table with three chairs on one side and a bench on the other is a great spot for informal family meals. Opposite the table is a French door to the terrace and a huge picture window that Lauren Dianich, one of the architects, told me they had salvaged from a client’s remodeling project. The window floods the space with light and the current owners ‘ two mirrors at the end of the table extend the space in perspective. I could well imagine driving by and being touched by the scene of family and friends gathered around the table for a meal. The terrace outside has a pergola over the deck with upholstered rattan seating for relaxing and two chaises on the lawn are great spots for sunbathing.
The stairs have several turns in their path to the second and third floors to make the climb upwards more interesting and daylight cascades down from the windows at the landings. The master suite has a four piece bath with custom tile, a pebble design for the shower floor and white plumbing fixtures. The dressing room’s storage units with sandblasted glass fronts could also be used as an office. The current owners’ interior design for all the bedrooms create restful retreats. I especially liked the master suite with its white iron bed frame and bed linens set against the deep gray-green walls and the wood antique chest.
The third floor attic is an open space that spans across the entire floor with daylight from the casement windows in the chimneys at each end. Under one long window is a seat wide enough to stretch out for a nap. One end of the room is furnished as a bedroom and the other end of the room is furnished as an office area. The various ceiling heights tucked under the roof profile creates great interior architecture.
The attic open area above the kitchen has a circular window at one end that was salvaged from the Treasury Building in Annapolis and would be a great studio or home office.
The tranquility of an eighteen acre site with pastoral views of the willow tree by the pond, the orchards and fields, a contemporary low maintenance farmhouse with a great floor plan, bravo to Atelier11 for another great design!
Willow Tree Farm was featured in the Talbot County Designer Showcase when the architects owned the house. his house will be featured on the Spy House Tour, Sunday October 6th from 1:00 to 5:00. Stay tuned to the Spy for more details. For more information about this property, contact Jana Meredith with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-822-6272 (o), 443-235-3404 (c), firstname.lastname@example.org , “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.