Thirty-three years ago, architect Milford Cushman and his wife, Terry Gregory, purchased a former government-funded pine tree farm in Vermont and built a small home for $36,000. Primarily constructed by hand using affordable materials and measuring just 900 square feet, the home may have been humble, but it was also infused with the couple’s love and respect for the land. Over the next two decades, they expanded the house itself and added four outbuildings, including a pottery studio, a two-car garage and storage structures.
Before long, Gregory joined her husband at Cushman Design Group, one of Vermont’s foremost architecture firms. All of their experience designing everything from tiny cabins and vernacular barns to modern farmhouses came in handy by 2010, when they decided to renovate their home. The result is a tranquil oasis clad in locally sourced Eastern White Pine, chosen to honor the couple’s commitment to sustainability. Many of the other materials are reclaimed or recycled.
The home, officially named Raven Beach for the birds Cushman and Gregory spotted on the land when they first moved in, now measures 2,300 square feet. Its palettes of colors and materials pay homage to classic Vermont camps in the woods, but elevated and modernized for comfortable contemporary living.
Winner of first place in Fine Homebuilding’s 2015 Reader’s Choice Awards and recipient of a 5 Star Plus Energy Star rating, the Hyde Park home on over 10 acres is now for sale through Pall Spera Realtors.
Continuing the trend of plywood as a minimalist finishing material for interior surfaces, this gorgeous beach house overlooking Bass Strait in Victoria, Australia has a modern rustic feel, with wood grain as its main visual focus. Set along the region’s famed Great Ocean Road, this single-story house by ITN Architects is made to stand up to the harsh coastal conditions while taking in the beautiful scenery from every room. Clad on the outside with silver top ash and rusted steel, the residence really shines once you step inside to take in all that lovely pine ply.
A spine shelving wall runs the entire length of the house, not only providing lots of space for books and objects but also framing art and photography. Strategically placed doors on some areas of the shelving offer a way to hide clutter, so the residents can show off their most display-worthy belongings. The unfinished plywood continues as the sole wall finish through the hallways and into the bedrooms, creating a cohesive flow to the space.
All that plywood is complemented by more and more wood in similar tones, including the wide-plank flooring, exposed ceiling beams and a simple farmhouse dining table. Other than the furniture, all there is to break up the expanses of wood surfaces are floor-to-ceiling glass walls taking in the dramatic scenery.
Home to both a writer and a surfer as well as their three adult children, this home is both a casual beach house in an updated modern style and a refuge from the elements year-round, with the living room elevated on stilts to gaze out over the treetops.
Looking at the front of this home in Balaclava, Australia, what you’ll see is a traditional Victorian characteristic of the neighborhood, with a modest white facade, twin chimneys and a picket fence. But walk around the side and the personality of the residence swiftly shifts to a striking modern volume clad in timber slats.
Coy Yiontis Architects created an addition for the two-story home that makes no attempt to blend into the vernacular architecture, choosing instead to make a strong visual statement with wood as the primary material.
“The renovation and addition to this partly 2-story home was designed to accommodate an extended family of eight on a relatively modest site within a dense urban context,” the architects explain. “A bedroom for each of the four children, one for the parents and another possibly for grandparents, generous living spaces and a swimming pool were key to the brief.”
The old and new volumes of the home are separated by a courtyard housing the pool, each of the wings surrounding it opening to this outdoor space with expansive glazed walls. The warmth and character of the wood is brought inside as well, contrasting with smooth white surfaces.
The warmth of Eastern White Pine gives the interior of this writing retreat in rural Vermont a cozy and welcoming feeling. Designed by architect Milford Cushman and built by Montpelier Construction, this three-level home is a green cottage crafted with sustainability in mind, the compact 16-by-40 footprint fitting neatly onto a steel hill on a small parcel of land.
The vacation home was designed for a pair of academics and writers who wanted a custom-built retreat on a budget, maximizing warmth and light from the south despite the north-facing layout of the site. It features an open floe plan on the central level, lots of glass for looking out onto the landscape, and an entry-porch covered by a shed roof.
The builders chose Eastern White Pine for the floors, ceilings, cabinets and trim, leaving these surfaces minimally finished to let the wood’s natural beauty shine. Based in Vermont, Cushman Design Group frequently uses this local and eco-friendly material in their designs, including the beautiful barn-inspired Goose Farm residence.
The natural beauty and character of Eastern White Pine logs is so striking, sometimes it just needs to take center stage. That’s certainly the case when it comes to log homes, which put all of the architectural focus on the simplicity and charm of raw wood, resulting in a home that feels like it’s a part of the forest.
One example is this 1700-square-foot residence on Brassua Lake in Maine, designed and built by Grandview Log & Timber Frames. Set at the water’s edge, surrounded by trees, the home seems like a natural fit in its environment, the logs giving it a sense of weight and timelessness.
Full-round log homes use thick, smoothed-down logs stacked together with notched ends. Careful shaping as well as the weight of the wood create solid, well-sealed walls that don’t require any sort of mortar.
The striking simplicity of these structures, best seen when they’re still under construction and consist of nothing but the log frame itself, has been prized for century after century. See more Eastern White Pine log homes at GrandviewTimbers.com.
If the phrase ‘wooden architecture’ makes you think of modest cabins in the woods, maybe these photos of an incredible wooden mansion will change your perception. Spacious, luxurious and thoroughly modern, ‘Martis Camp House’ by Swaback Partners near Lake Tahoe, California proves that wood can go far outside the box with unexpected applications.
Imagine what this luxury home would look like if it were made of concrete instead of wood. The wood siding gives it a warm and welcoming feel and extra visual interest that complements stone and copper elements to perfection.
The architects characterize this residence as “a home for the high Sierra’s that does not fall in line with the traditional regional architecture that mostly is a dark and heavy composition. Instead, the concept was to celebrate the light and airy feeling of snow and the effects it can bring to the interiors.”
Of course, using wood siding on a modern house of these proportions is far from the only way to incorporate wood into larger-scale architecture. More and more modern buildings are getting a facelift from wood facades, while architects make plans for all-wood skyscrapers.