A White Mountain retreat home
This beautifully appointed and comfortable home provides its owners with extraordinary views of the exquisite landscape.
Sitting high on a hill overlooking the White Mountains, this splendid post-and-beam home designed by Tom Samyn of Samyn D’Elia Architects in Ashland complements the area’s rugged landscape as a place for its owners and many visitors to enjoy for years to come.
When a Massachusetts couple decided to build a second home, high on a hill in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the couple envisioned a home that could accommodate their family (including two children) plus lots of visitors and be a place to enjoy for years to come. Most of all, it would complement the area’s rugged, rural landscape.
“I love the mountains,” says the husband, an avid hiker. “This has been a favorite spot for us.”
Carving a house from a hill
In 2008, the family purchased a riverfront lot with spectacular views of the White Mountains. The hilltop location, completely un-developed and mostly wooded, called for a home that fit the landscape. After researching different options, the family decided on a rustic, Shingle Style home featuring a post-and-beam system—wooden, vertical posts and horizontal beams fitting together—by Timberpeg, Inc. of Claremont.
Tom Samyn of Samyn D’Elia Architects in Ashland, who has designed many timber-frame homes, was hired as the architect; the general contractor was Don Lawton of The Lawton Company in Littleton. The relationship clicked. The homeowners worked closely with Samyn and Lawton to create a home that had the desired “mountain-lodge feel.”
“We design a lot of Shingle Style homes in this area because they’re rustic, long-lasting and low-maintenance,” Samyn says. “It is a good solution for lots with steep slopes and fits in well with the mountain environment.”
The home is oriented to the southwest to take advantage of expansive mountain views. The long driveway is designed as a steep series of switchbacks; a granite boulder—originally found on-site and too large to move—makes an impressive focal point for the driveway to circle around.
The cedar-shingled home’s post-and-beam system gave Samyn the flexibility to design open interior spaces to suit the family’s needs and integrate well with the natural outdoor environment. The home has four floors, including two lofts and a walkout lower level. Outdoor spaces include a ground-level patio and hot tub, and—off the main level—two south-facing decks as well as a covered porch. Energy-efficient exterior panels provide insulation, making the house air-tight.
The integrity of the building materials, finishes and furnishings was important to the homeowners, who wanted to use American-made products where possible. The walls, ceilings and interior finishes are Douglas fir, and the floors are reclaimed hickory. The stonework, including a large fireplace in the family’s great room, is Corinthian granite from Swenson Granite Works in Concord. “Materials for this house were chosen carefully,” Lawton says. “This is one of the most well-thought out homes we’ve built.”
On the inside
Careful planning went into the home’s interiors as well. The spacious main level includes a mudroom, an open-concept dining area and gourmet kitchen. The great room with its soaring ceilings, granite stone fireplace and tall windows is positioned to receive natural light and highlight the panoramic views of the White Mountains. Wrought-iron light fixtures by Hammerton, leather couches and chairs, as well as black, built-in cabinetry set a comfortable, traditional tone with contemporary accents. A carved wooden dining table and a coffee table, commissioned by the owners, reflect the couple’s preference for handcrafted, American-made furnishings: both pieces are by Stephen Staples of Creative Art Furniture/Staples Cabinet Makers in Wrentham, Massachusetts, and fashioned from reclaimed wood from old New England barns or houses. The screened porch off the great room is a favorite spot to relax and enjoy the scenery, as is the whirlpool tub in the master bedroom suite, which is located on the opposite side of the great room.
The kitchen, with its scenic views, is a popular spot for family gatherings. A thoughtful layout, granite countertops and high-end appliances make it an enjoyable space to prepare a meal and entertain.
Collectors of wine and fine art, the couple highlights their expansive collection throughout the home. “When we started building the house, we knew without question we’d build a wine cellar,” the homeowner says. An array of New and Old World wines as well as several pieces of art is contained in a glass-front, climate-controlled cabinet in the dining area. “We wanted a display that was unique and contemporary—almost like a work of art itself,” the homeowner says. “It had to flow with the rest of the house.” The specialized cabinet integrates visually with the home’s primary wine cellar on the ground level. Custom-designed by Wine Cellar Innovations of Cincinnati, Ohio, both the cabinet and cellar were built by The Lawton Company. The homeowners’ art collection—including paintings, sculpture and objets d’art collected during travels in Southeast Asia—is found throughout the home.
The glass-front, climate-controlled cabinet in the dining area was built by The Lawton Company in Littleton for the homeowners’ collection of wines and some of their art.
On the second floor is a loft that opens over the great room as well as an office, two bedrooms and access to a well-appointed exercise room—complete with juice bar—over the two-car garage. Each bedroom has a ladder to access an upper-level play loft, a spot enjoyed by the children. Another favorite spot is the bunkroom on the ground level. With its bare wood walls and built-in bunk beds, the space was inspired by the wife’s childhood memories of summer camp.
On the outside
Since bringing the outdoors in was important, landscape architect Eric Buck of Terrain Planning and Design in Bedford chose native plantings accordingly. “We wanted the landscape to blend in with the home,” he says. “The house has incredible craftsmanship, so we wanted to mimic that in the landscape while also working with drainage issues and weather-appropriate plants.” To minimize soil erosion and stabilize the home’s steep slope, a stone retaining wall was built; wildflower perennials and blueberry sod, which later became blueberry bushes, were planted by Bryan Fournier Landscaping and Irrigation in Goffstown. Off the covered porch on the main level, Buck designed a more intimate view for the homeowners, with a cascading waterfall and native plants; flowers such as black-eyed Susan, lupine and purple coneflower; and ornamental grasses.
The homeowners enjoy their mountain retreat year-round, whether hiking or skiing in the nearby mountains. Their satisfaction is mirrored by Samyn and Lawton, who are proud of the end result. “The house captures the unique experience of being in the White Mountains while taking in a postcard view of the surroundings,” Samyn says. Lawton adds, “It’s probably the most authentic home I’ve worked on; it feels the way you want a family home to feel.”