"Historic Inspiration"March 2009, Country's Best Log Homes
“The wood had an instant affect on me,” says Brian. “That memory has stayed with me all these years.”
Flash forward to the year 2005, when Marc Alembik and Brian Lattimer were looking for land to build their dream home near the Allegheny foothills of West Virginia. They found 16 rolling acres that overlooked an open meadow; the lot had a south-facing slop at the top of a ridge to create an ideal secluded setting.
They both admired homes with architectural history and wanted to incorporate time-tested craftsmanship and design into the home. Brian recalled his antiquing trip, and they agreed that logs were the material of choice. “I searched through thousands of plans on the Web, trying to find a perfect plan to match our location,” Brian says. “I came across PrecisionCraft’s website and found a plan that fit most of our criteria.” The Rockpoint was a plan designed by M.T.N Architects, PrecisionCraft’s architectural firm.
M.T.N Architect designer Michael Ray worked with Marc and Brian to make some adjustments to the size and layout of the Rockpoint plan. Incorporating the simplicity and organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and the principles of feng shui, the design has straightforward elements harmonized with the flow of nature’s energy.
“I’m not a fan of the big cavernous homes that have become popular over the years,” says Brian. “We took the Rockpoint plan and pared the proportions down a bit.”
The design provided distinct separation between areas such as the living room, kitchen, and dining room, while keeping a focus on the landscape. The linear arrangement mimics the Usonian style of homes that Frank Lloyd Wright became famous for in his later years.
Brian installed in-floor radiant heating under utilitarian diagonal tiles. This kept the open space evenly heated and provided a durable floor that needs very little maintenance.
Another trait of a Wright home is a strong central fireplace. Brian’s home features a see-through hearth near the heart of the home. The hearth is flush with the floor on the foyer side, but recessed into the floor on the living room side. The sunken hearth is lined with dark ubatuba granite, which reflects the light of the flames and resembles a rippling pool of water (“It’s the perfect feng shui balance of water and fire,” says Brian).
Other simple yet striking additions to the home include:
- A leather floor in the master bedroom
- A brushed stainless steel tub in the master bathroom
- Walkout Velux windows in the upstairs bedrooms
- A staircase consisting of metal stringers and ipé(Brazilian hardwood) treads
David Scherping and his crew of five men were the builders for the project and carried out the many details. “We were all in sync throughout the process,” says Brian. “They understood what we wanted and helped our vision become reality.”
One of the more intricate tasks was the placement of the curtain wall. The prow openings in both the great room and dining room were designed as triangular room extensions that jut out from the face of the home. The oversized prows were engineered to distribute the wall and roof loads with two stone columns, which allow the window frames to be thinner, non-structural, and less obtrusive. Providing the best view of the West Virginia hillside.
“When building with logs there is always going to be a bit of shrinkage and here the glass is basically free from the supportive structure and not subject to possible cracks,” says Michael Ray. “The builder, however, had to install the glazing carefully and with precision, or any movement from settling could spell disaster.”
The windows have become works of art in the home. They feature narrow horizontal grid lines that are reminiscent of the Prairie-style parallel lines and banded trim. Hanging in some of the smaller windows are several stained glass panels the home-owners have collected over the years. They remind them of their historic journey to complete their dream home.
“Coming home to this house is such a joy and we have named is Satori, a Zen word that means ‘state of realization’ or ‘enlightenment,’” says Marc. “Sitting near the fire and looking out the windows give us an illuminated state of mind and, for us, completeness.”