Ramblers, also known as ranch-style houses, originated in the U.S. in the 1920s as homeowners sought a more informal and casual style of living. Usually rectangular or L-shaped, these single-story residences have a flat, open layout, often with multiple entrances to the outdoors. The style peaked in the mid 20th century and fell out of popularity for a while, but now, it’s making a comeback in all sorts of new forms, including this one.
All-wooden homes are rarely designed in the rambler style, but architect Nicolas Dahan’s family home in southwestern France begs the question ‘why?’ Simple and minimalist without being the slightest bit boring, the house features identical dimensions for both the floor and ceiling to create a mirror effect. That encourages inhabitants to look out through the many glass doors and windows and feel connected to nature.
“To enter the pine forest is to enter the house,” says the architect. “The site itself is integral to the architecture. The pine and oak trees provide shelter from strong winds. The ocean, though not visible, is so close that the sound of the surf rhythms the day. Nature runs through the bedrooms and the living room. The house is built where the air flows.”
Another thing that makes the “Maison en Bois” unique is the fact that the builders gave the wood of the home the same care you’d usually see in furniture. The larch was sanded to achieve a glossy finish, and the hollow joints show no visible screws or nails. The home is more modern than you’d expect to see in a forest, but both the finishing and the layout makes it feel fresh and interesting.
Ramblers are gaining popularity for some excellent reasons, the most important of which is that they’re accessible. Not only are they safe for young children, lacking any stairs or split levels, they’re perfect for multi-generational households with older family members.
When it comes to vacation homes, the outside is just as important as what’s inside. Indoor/outdoor spaces and outdoor living areas let us enjoy the setting, whether it’s the woods, the beach, a ski resort or a quaint village. The more decks, terraces and porches, the better, right?
A family retreat with an unusual look offers a brilliant balance between bright, cheerful and comfortable indoor areas for family gatherings and all the outdoor space you could ask for. Designed by Austin architecture firm Low Design Office, the 2900-square-foot home features a wrap-around second floor deck, a third floor terrace with views of the woods and several covered areas under the house. All that, and it was completed on a tight budget.
“River House” has its primary living areas elevated one story above the ground. The slatted timber volumes it sits on provide storage and give the home the feel of a treehouse. Low Design Office designed and built it for three siblings who wanted to use it as a gathering point for their families on the Guadalupe River Floodway in Texas, so the design is functional in other ways, too. It’s made of wood sourced from local timber suppliers.
“The house is comprised of two generic rectangular forms rotated to weave around existing trees while maintaining river views. The rotated geometries act upon one another, defining living space and carving out porches in a fashion that strengthens both the connection between the two volumes (guest bedrooms and main living spaces) and the relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces.”
“Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors and exterior glazing over hardi panel serve as the connecting elements, wrapping the living space with transparency at the interior while reflecting nature at the exterior. Clerestory windows in the double height living space look onto a rooftop deck outside the ‘kids’ loft at the floor above. Serving as the builder for the project, we took advantage of deals on materials where we could find them; all the interior wood finishes are off the shelf products from lumber suppliers, and we collaborated with small Texas shops for affordable windows and sliding glass doors.”
Built by M.R. Brewer using lumber from Hancock and featured on Houzz, this showcase of Eastern White Pine is a total dream home. Designed with a rustic mountain style that fits right into the forested setting, the craftsman-style home features Eastern White Pine exterior siding, as well as Eastern White Pine interior paneling, trim and wall coverings. The architects painted the siding graphite gray for a rocky tone that echoes the stone hardscaping outside, with a deep fir green trim accented by hints of a complementary golden brown.
Entitled ‘Lake House in Casco,’ the home is a treasure trove of custom millwork showing off the capabilities of Eastern White Pine. Nearly every interior surface, short of the countertops and chimney, is made of wood, with the pine’s characteristic knots adding a dynamic sense of texture to the overall composition of the home.
When you think of buildings you’re likely to see set in grassy meadows out in the country, it’s likely farmhouses, barns and other conventional rural buildings that come to mind. But K_M Architektur subverts that expectation with ‘House Dornbirn,’ a modern pine-clad residence overlooking the Rhine Valley, Lake Constance and the Vorarlberg Mountains in Austria. Its upper volume is stacked upon the lower one, creating an overhang that provides shade and makes the balcony feel like it’s projecting out into the landscape.
Each level of the home is made of a different material for a dramatic visual contrast. The bottom floor is tucked into the hillside, its walls composed of concrete to improve thermal mass. It contains the garage and entrance. The middle level features beautiful pine siding and contains the bedrooms and a studio, while the copper-clad top level hosts common areas.
Local white pine wood is used throughout the home, including the floors and ceilings of the interiors and the balcony area. The wood located outside will be allowed to age and weather naturally, silvering over time.
“Thanks to this wooden facade, which has already weathered to a light gray color, the building fits in harmoniously with the surrounding area,” say the architects. “The house was designed according to strict considerations of sustainability, involving the ecological quality of the materials and choices such as a solar hot-water system, geo-thermal heating and a stove in the living area.”
One Pennsylvania-based home designer is rekindling two American architecture traditions at once with a business model that combines the old “kit home” delivery process with post-and-beam construction. Woodhouse offers a variety of pre-designed building kits in adirondack, craftsman, barn, cabin, cape, coastal and other architectural styles ranging from 832 to 6,163 square feet.
Choose one, and they’ll deliver the frame, wall panels, roof, windows, doors and five full sets of construction drawings for you or a local contractor to assemble. Woodhouse representatives are on-site for five days overseeing the layout of the grid for the floor system, guiding the contractors in putting up the frame and helping them get started on the panels. If you want a home that’s fully tailored to your own individual needs, they’ll help you design a custom floor plan, too.
While the old kit homes that you could order from catalogs like Sears were conventional balloon construction, wherein the studs extend from sill to plate, Woodhouse’s post-and-beam construction puts the beautiful wooden beams on full display, with highly energy-efficient foam walls. The frame is made to last for centuries, and requires very little maintenance.
Many of Woodhouse’s models are made from beautiful Eastern White Pine from the Southern Adirondacks, like the two models pictured here. To see all of them, visit the Woodhouse website.
Inspired by gambrel barns, a classic rural silhouette favored by American dairy farmers during the 20th century, this Eastern White Pine timber frame home has a classic New England country feel with beautiful details like the twin glassed cupolas rising from the roof. Vermont Timber Works collaborated with contractor Mark Jupiter to create this hand-hewn spec house located in Hunter, New York.
The house is “cut from native material and hewn the old-fashioned way with an adze and slick,” explains Vermont Timber Works. The project uses traditional wood joinery. The warm, welcoming feeling captured on the exterior continues inside, where the rustic white pine beams are paired with contemporary cabinetry.
Interested in seeing how this project came together? Vermont Timber Works offers downloadable files including plans, profiles and details, and even a rotatable 3D image of the frame.
“Pine is a very stable wood,” says the company of this particular wood choice. “It has a good straight grain, can be easily stained, planes well, and is a great wood for hand hewing. Because it is less expensive than douglas fir, it is often used for residential timber frames.”