Text by Robert Kiener Photography by Jim Westphalen Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
Stowe, Vermont-based architect Brian Hamor smiles as he remembers his clients’ wish list for their Stowe vacation home. “They explained they wanted something unique, a design as far removed as possible from their traditional Dutch colonial in Massachusetts,” recalls Hamor. “When they told me, ‘Make it special, make it different, make it fun,’ I was hooked. I love a challenge.”
The couple and their three teenage children are all skiers and had fallen in love with Stowe’s ski mountain as well as the town itself during their holiday visits. After several years of renting and looking at properties for sale—“Nothing grabbed us,” remembers the wife—they found an expansive seventeen-acre lot that was central to both Stowe’s Mount Mansfield as well as Main Street. Much to their delight, it also boasted drop-dead long-distance views and plenty of privacy. “It was a no-brainer,” says the husband. They snapped it up and got in touch with Hamor and his frequent interior design partner, Amber Hodgins.
Working in close collaboration with the couple, Hamor came up with a contemporary-but-cozy five-bedroom house that nestles snugly into the sloping lot and may best be described as “mountain modern.” Stained cedar siding helps it blend with the forested landscape, while a novel “pod” design, with sections of the residence set back from one another, helps break up the mass of the house and echoes the nearby mountain ranges.
“We love the way Brian and Amber gave us a modern home but were careful to keep it from looking too commercial or industrial,” says the wife. Hamor and Hodgins worked together to maintain a human scale in the interior. For example, while Hamor chose to expose steel I-beams, painted black, in the eighteen-foot-high great room, he clad the ceiling with stained shiplap siding. “This adds texture and helps bring down the height of the ceiling,” he explains.
Hodgins hung pendant lamps in several locations to achieve the same effect and looked for curved fixtures to contrast with the home’s linear design. “The structure of the house was already masculine, so we wanted to soften it—or tone it down—a bit,” she says. Another detail, a wall covered with reclaimed wood from a tumbledown Vermont barn, adds texture to the entryway and is also, explains Hodgins, “a nod to the past.”
Best of all, say the owners, is the layout of the house, which neatly separates the main bedroom, situated at one end of the residence, from the children’s two bunk rooms (with four beds in each for sleepovers) and two more guest bedrooms tucked away on a second floor. There’s also a separate room off the teenagers’ bunk rooms where the kids can watch TV or play video games.
“When we have guests stay, as we often do, everyone can gather together in the great room and also have their own privacy, their own space, when they want it,” says the wife. “Many have told us this home is so much fun, so different. And that’s just what we asked for.”
Architecture: Brian Hamor, Hamor Architecture Associates
Interior design: Amber Hodgins, Amber Hodgins Design
Builder: Brendan O’Reilly, Gristmill Builders
Landscape design: H. Keith Wagner, Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture