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Clapboard siding and a metal roof place this new home comfortably within Virginia horse country; but minimalist volumes and expansive glazing offer a decidedly contemporary interpretation

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The architectural history of Albemarle County, Virginia stretches back over 200 years, and comprises stately homes in Charlottesville as well as plantation-style farms in the outlying rural areas.

This new home, deep in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, can be viewed as an abstracted farmhouse, rooted in the regional vernacular, but unquestionably modern.

Architect Robert M Gurney says that the relationship of the home to the landscape in which it is situated informed all aspects of the design.

"From the outside, it's all about how the simple form of the house relates to the rolling pasture on one side, and the woodland on the other. You can see right through, so there's an unbroken visual connection to the landscape.

"We oriented the house to the southwest, which means that sunlight comes into the main living pavilion any time of the year.

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"Inside the house, the transparency – especially in that main volume – means you are visually engaged with the surrounding environment at all times."

The interior scheme further enhances this engagement.

Therese Baron Gurney says, "This is, first and foremost, a family home. My intention inside was to continue the easy-going design that Bob created on the exterior. The finishes and furnishings were selected with this in mind."

Inside the main volume, walnut kitchen cabinets on one end are echoed by the panels cladding the opposite wall. The space between is filled with comfortable furniture in simple lines and a warm, muted color palette.

"As a vacation home, the interior elements must be versatile, yet very cohesive; that means things can be moved around and still look unified," she says.

The black stools at the kitchen island and chairs at the dining table can be placed wherever extra seating is required. Similarly, any of the tables and chairs can be moved onto the terrace for outdoor entertaining.

"All our projects start with the site," Gurney says. "Our houses facilitate a relationship between the occupants and the landscape. As much as this is a place where the family gathers and plays, it's also where they can simply and quietly enjoy the surrounding beauty."

First published date: 06 October 2013

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Credit List

Architect Robert M Gurney FAIA, Robert M Gurney Architect (Washington DC)
Project architect Claire L Andreas
Construction Shelter Associates Ltd
Landscape architect Kevin Campion, Campion Hruby Landscape Architects
Engineer D Anthony Beale LLC
Interior designer Therese Baron Gurney ASID, Baron Gurney Interiors