Updated: May 1
Our Home Design Sketchbook series gives you a look behind-the-scenes at our featured custom home designs.
Square Footage Stats
Main Floor 2,250 square feet
Upper (Loft) Floor 470 square feet
Walk Out Basement 1,352 square feet
Over-sized triple attached garage 927 square feet
Our client was a young family that was moving into the naturally forested acreage area from City life (location undisclosed for privacy). They purchased the beautiful 2 acre property with the intention of building their dream home. They were amazing to work with (but then again...I feel like we always have the nicest clients!).
It was very important to our client that we captured the surrounding natural beauty of the site. The site was complicated. It was extremely sloped with mountainous terrain. The client was initially concerned that the slope would be a huge challenge for the home design.
But... guess what? Luckily, for us as home designers, we always see complicated and sloped lots as a huge opportunity to create a very cool design! We worked with the client very early on to alleviate their concerns, and help them understand exactly what they could build on their site. (Need help with looking at your potential build site? No problem, just contact us.)
Aesthetically, the client wanted a dramatic roof form with long, sleek roof lines. Many of their inspiration photos showed daring, sharp, and angled roof lines. They wanted the building form to "hug" the land and work with the site. It was important that the home design "fit" into its natural surroundings.
As with all our clients, we made it our mission to capture their vision, and over-deliver with a stunning custom home design.
Let's dive into the design!
This custom home's design was heavily influenced by the West Coast Modern style, which the client loved.
The West Coast Modern style incorporates lots of natural materials such as wood and stone. You can see there are also metal touches throughout the design, which is another natural material seen frequently in this style. The West Coast Modern style suits the natural setting perfectly.
One of our design philosophies is that a home's design should be timeless.
With a modern aesthetic, you see a lot of home design that is very "trendy". OK, don't get me wrong...We love trends too!
BUT..you need to be very careful with trends. Especially when you're designing a home.
Think about this - Your home's design is quite permanent. It's hard to go back and change a roof line in a few years when it goes out of style! With this in mind, let's talk about the roof line...
For this home, we chose a very clean, simple, sleek roof line. A simple design, if executed properly, usually never goes "out of style". The roof line mixed with natural materials creates a modern, edgy, yet timeless aesthetic for the home.
Even with its simplicity, we wanted to have a ton of WOW factor in the exterior design. The roof line was designed intentionally with a dramatic shape. Perfect for what the client was looking for.
The Driveway Approach and Curb Appeal
This site had a very steep slope. In some areas, there was a grade difference of 10 meters (or roughly 32'). Wowza! I wasn't kidding when I said this site was steep.
Why does this matter? Well when you approach the home (driving or walking), the driveway is almost below basement level.
We used this to our advantage. We designed the roof to have a strong presence, considering that you would actually see the roof from this lower perspective. And also incorporated other details such as a wood soffit, wood beams, and roof cut out details. All this added to the sophisticated and dramatic roof shape.
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Exterior Design Vs. Interior Design
The exterior design is very important. But it should always be designed with the floor plan in mind, and should always flow with the interior floor plan.
Contrary to what many believe, the exterior design and floor plan are NOT two 'stand-alone' items. They both MUST be considered together throughout the entire design process. One does not trump the other.
This is one of the many secret ingredients of how to achieve stunning home design. Many examples of which you can see throughout our home design portfolio.
Let's take a look at how we incorporated the exterior design into the floor plan design.
The dramatic roof lines you see on the exterior were extended into the interior floor plan. The client wanted an "open loft feel" which captured the views, and flowed seamlessly from inside to out.
We designed the home with soaring vaulted ceilings, where the roof lines flowed into the home. The open concept great room and dining area had ceiling heights ranging from 10' to 20' high. Yep, dramatic.
That being said, we intentionally designed the ceiling in the kitchen to have a standard 10' flat ceiling. Kitchens are best when designed as one story. Otherwise, think of the dreaded plant ledge dust collectors from the 90's... ugh! No thanks!
Bonus: A flat ceiling also works better with your kitchen cabinetry millwork, and is more functional.
The Floor Plan
The home was designed to be a one and a half story home. The client wanted all of their living on the main floor, similar to a ranch-style or bungalow home. As a matter of fact, the original discussions were to design a true one-story home. This is why the main floor includes a master retreat and two additional bedrooms with ensuites.
But very early in the design process, we had a lot of discussions about the view. And how we would get even more stunning views if we had a living area higher up. Thus, we designed a upper floor loft to capture this. To keep the overall design light and airy, the loft was designed to overlook the 2-story great room.
The loft was intended to be a viewpoint and get-away. It was designed to be multi-functional. It could be used as an office, a den, or a retreat. All this was topped off with an outdoor balcony, which captured the surrounding view perfectly.
Capturing the Views
This home was perched on top of a mountain - literally. The site was steeply graded (technical talk meaning "extremely sloped").
The great news was that this allowed us to take advantage of the view. There was almost a 360 degree view from this site. Most of it was oriented towards the front of the home, but there was also some incredible sight lines from the rear of the house. The home design incorporated a ton of windows to capture all of this surrounding beauty.
Even with lots of windows, there are smart ways to design them. Windows can be extremely expensive. But there's little tricks we use to deliver a "full glass wall" without the expense. We pulled out all the stops with this house. As you can see, there is a ton of glass. But surprisingly, we did not have to go to a fully custom window system, thus saving the client a ton of money.
There was also a large focus on indoor - outdoor living, and having a great flow from inside to out. We captured this with designing multiple outdoor living areas. We incorporated these areas both within the home design and in the landscape design. The view continues to be captured in all the outdoor living areas.
As mentioned previously, the slope was very steep on this site. As home designers, we see this as both a challenge and a huge opportunity!
OK, I'll be completely honest. My personal favorite sites are ones that have significant slopes to them like this one. In my opinion, it creates sooo much more design opportunity than a flat site!
So if you happen to be looking for a site for your new custom home, don't get scared if you see a property that's steeply sloped! Ask me if you'd like more info on this.
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Designing A Home On A Sloped Lot
Whenever a home is designed on a steep lot like this, the ideal scenario is to work with the existing general slope conditions on site, and within reason. With a custom design, you can shape the home design to flow with the slope of the land (otherwise known as grade).
Also, if you work with the grade during the home's design, it will likely minimize retaining walls. Although retaining walls are sometimes necessary, the costs can add up quickly.
There are many design strategies to either minimize or eliminate retaining walls altogether when designing on heavily sloped lots. We'll write an article about this topic soon.
Another consideration is a home's building setbacks, which is typically dictated by a Municipal Governing Authority and their respective Zoning Bylaws. This relates to WHERE you can place the home on the site.
For this home's design, we were able to design most of the retaining into the home itself, thus saving significant retaining wall costs. And of course, all within the Zoning Bylaws and their setbacks.
Happily Ever After
The final design captured the essence of everything that the client wanted. We worked closely with the custom home builder, Estata Homes, throughout the process.
We are excited to see this project go into construction!
Thinking of a designing and building a new custom home? Contact us to chat about your project. We can help answer any questions that you have.
Phase One Design is an award-winning team of home designers specializing in residential building design and interior design for custom homes. This includes major renovation and additions.
Our process is tailored to clients who seek a high quality home design and build.