Owls Nest in Greenville
Commissioned by a prominent local builder, this family home is the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of ideas and aspirations. After building hundreds of luxury homes throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey, the homeowners had a collection of wish list items that together would form the ideal backdrop against which their family’s story would unfold. Among them were quality, craftsmanship, and the quaint cottage ideal reimagined on a much grander scale.
Inspired by the storybook charm of cottage homes, the relatively compact footprint of this new country estate belies its 15,000 square feet. To create a home that is deceptive in size by design, several architectural tools and illusions were employed. Engaged dormers on the main house give the impression of the story-and-a-half aesthetic common to cottage-style structures, while still allowing for a full-height second story. The home’s distinct U shape, which also contributes to its illusory scale, is the result of a unique collection of design challenges, including a desire to buffer noise and provide privacy from the busy road along the front of the property and the need for a car barn. The home’s configuration also allows for curb appeal both along the road as well as from the front door, and creates a welcoming courtyard entrance for both the homeowners and visitors alike. Both indoors and out, the characteristic U shape creates endless opportunities to interact with the home’s architecture and vantage points from which to appreciate it.
Inside the home, a capacious floor plan sets the stage for the carefully planned features and adeptly executed details that befit the homeowner’s exacting standards. The grand arched windows and doorways of the workshop, located toward the front of the property, are on center with the front door, providing an airy, pleasing view from every opening. Precisely designed centerlines offer clear views from room to room, and are echoed in the barrel-vaulted gallery that leads from one end of the house to the other. Oversized cased openings with interior transom windows not only lend an airy lightness to the home, but also, along with the thick stone walls, tell the story of a home that was built in phases over time. Connecting the main home with the car barn on both the first and second floors is an historically inspired belvedere room, with arched wooden doors, soaring cathedral ceilings, a stone corner fireplace, and massive windows that frame gorgeous vistas.
Quality of craftsmanship and elegance of materials and finishes were paramount among the attributes the homeowner most desired for the Owls Nest House. Originally a carpenter by trade, natural materials and beautifully mastered wood detailing were prerequisite. Outside, a focus on stone, cedar, and mahogany ties the home to its wooded landscape, while antique brick, forged wrought iron, and lead-coated copper gutters and downspouts lend an atmosphere of age and history. Inside the home, random width wide plank oak floors, Chippendale style staircase handrails, and marble and onyx countertops impart a sense of time, place, and opulence. On site throughout the duration of the project was a master finish carpentry expert who handcrafted and carved the many handsomely executed details of the interior, including the hand-built kitchen and prep kitchen, window seats and other intricately carved details. A fastidious attention to craftsmanship and quality is the common thread that ties together the homeowner’s collection of ideas and crafts a singular, cohesive story that is original and singular to him and his family.
With its distinct massing, judicious siting, studied scale and proportion, and classic materials and detailing, the Owls Nest House is a study in bringing time-honored traditional techniques and design elements to luxurious contemporary living.