Catoctin Creek Village is a communal housing development spread across a leisurely 164 acres and includes distant mountain views, rolling fields, and a stream-fed lake. Of that land, 120 acres is designated as conservation easement, meaning it can only be used for agricultural purposes. On the remaining 44 acres lives an active group of neighbors who meet on a monthly basis to take care of the communal property, often regrouping to enjoy potluck meals together afterwards.
"Our client was attracted to this [place] partly because of that sense of community," said architect Greg Wiedemann of the Bethesda, Maryland–based practice Wiedemann Architects. "She's very environmentally aware and is interested in the stewardship of the land." After the client bought a one-acre plot in the development, Wiedemann and project architect Felix Gonzalez designed her a house there that embraces the community spirit as well as the country scenery.
The architects started their design by drawing on the vernacular of "modest farmhouses that dot the Virginia landscape," then incorporating a modern twist. "We presented the house as a modern interpretation of a traditional clapboard farmhouse," Wiedemann said. The house's gabled form and exterior materials palette, including a standing seam metal roof and white clapboard siding, skews traditional. Dramatic window facades and a sharply defined screened porch underscore their modern approach.
By combining abundant windows with a narrow footprint, the architects sought to facilitate cross-ventilation as well as easy indoor/outdoor living no matter the season. "The thinness of the house allows the breezes to pass through, both in the main body of the house as well as the screened-in porch," Wiedemann said. "It's really about bringing inside and outside together."
The retired client desired to be able to live entirely on one level, so the architects arranged the main floor to host an open living/dining/kitchen area, as well as her principle bedroom suite and the generous porch. Operable picture windows line the kitchen counter to encourage views into the community's common land. "We talked about having a kitchen that would have no upper cabinets, so she would see the sweep of the meadow beyond," said Wiedemann. The architects worked with Marvin® Windows and Doors to choose the windows throughout the home. "It's just a very high-quality product that we've used for many years," Wiedemann said. "They were very easy to work with in terms of the design process."
At the ground floor of the home, the team installed two guest rooms for the client's visiting children, as well as a one-bedroom apartment. In the short term, the apartment is rented out or used for guests. In the long run, it can be occupied by a live-in caretaker, if ever necessary. "That gives some flexibility in terms of aging in place," Wiedemann said.
Living with such a thoughtfully constructed home in a vibrant community has let the owner swap city life for great neighbors and the bucolic charm of the country. "I'm proud of the fact that we found a way to make a connection to this rural landscape with a modern language," Wiedemann said of the home. "She feels like she has the best of both worlds."
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