In all of our designs, we take our inspiration from the natural environment, the wildlife ecosystem and personal history or attachment to the property. It’s important for us to find the architect’s connection to the landscape and have it reflected in our designs. Everything we do is site-specific. There is no formula. Every home is an individual, stand-alone concept that gives us purpose as architects.
Initially, each home plan is referred to by its numbered address. However, as the construction progresses and the home becomes part of the natural environment, someone on the team will spontaneously give the project a nickname that resonates with the rest of us. Each one of our homes earns its name and establishes its own identity.
The Osprey property is surrounded by a breath-taking water environment and a teeming wildlife ecosystem. It was not difficult to understand why bald eagles, great blue herons and egrets chose this place as their home. The home earned its name when one morning while walking the property, I noticed some fish bones at my feet. I looked up to see who was responsible and was surprised to see a huge osprey sitting proudly on her nest. I dubbed the project, Osprey, and the name stuck.
The home has many of its rooms decorated to reflect the wildlife outdoors. There is a large custom-designed chandelier in the family room inspired by an osprey’s nest and the master bedroom wallpaper integrates a muted, oyster shell pattern that represents the oyster beds found in the inlet seen out the window. Outside, perennial gardens surround the property and blend into the natural landscape.
Like most of the homes we design, Waterside’s architecture was also driven by a property feature — a vast abundance of natural light that reveals the architect’s connection to the landscape elements. By paying close attention to the home’s orientation to the sun, and ensuring that almost every room had access to sunlight, we were able to practically eliminate the use of artificial light during the day. With astounding vistas on three sides of the property, we also designed every room in the house to have a magnificent view of the water. This doubled the complexity of the home’s orientation but we made it work.
The true inspiration for the home was actually an old, European beech tree growing right where the house was planned to be built. Designing the new home around its massive trunk, and being ever-mindful of the tree’s health during construction was of utmost importance. The dining room has a front-row view of the tree and at sunset, the landscape lighting slowly comes up to enhance the perennial garden surrounding its trunk. The entire design of the home was created around saving this incredible beech tree and capturing the essence of the property on which it grows.
This unique home was imagined for the owner’s desire for some peace and quiet on the weekends. Once colonial farmland, it’s still used to grow grasses for livestock feed. Grazing deer and wild turkey are a common sight.
During the summer, Aspen trees hide the meadows with golden leaves. In winter, the views extend far into the distance to reveal an old, red barn from another time. The owner fell in love with the barn and wanted to be reminded of the history of the property whenever possible. Our team designed the home with different perspectives of this structure from around the house, including a breathtaking view from the master shower.
Three Sisters reflects rural life, inside and out. There are a traditional barn-style garage and a floor-to-ceiling, stone fireplace. Antique, reclaimed-wood posts define interior open areas without blocking internal sightlines, and a large painting of a chicken guards the kitchen. Preserving the historical and natural aesthetics of this property puts it among our favorite legacy projects.
The architect’s connection to the landscape
For architects, the drive to design and build extraordinary new homes is inspired by many things. At Cole Harris, we constantly lean on the remarkable characteristics of the property itself as a primary source of influence. By embracing the elements that make each property unique, we capture the raw beauty and carry it through into our homes. Each home is inseparably connected to its landscape, just as it should be.