A Home Built for Warmth
This spacious home is fueled by both the sun and family memories.
High on a wind-swept hill in southern New Hampshire sits a home uniquely positioned to take advantage of its wide-open vistas. In addition to spectacular views that stretch to Boston, the 6,300-square-foot house has the capacity to turn a sunny day into energy savings for its owners, with solar panels, energy-efficient windows and a unique hot-water heating system. There's also plenty of living space inside and out to accommodate family get-togethers with the homeowners' adult children and grandchildren.
"This home is really what you call modern living," says Jeffrey Adams of Cebula Design, Inc. Fine Interiors in Newburyport, Massachusetts, which designed the interiors. "It's just large enough for every one in the family-from the owners to their grandchildren-to enjoy."
Let the sun shine in
Seeking a gracious, family-friendly home that incorporated energy-saving features, the owners turned to TMS Architects of Portsmouth, who had already designed a home for the family on the New Hampshire Seacoast.
Opened on three sides to create easy access for entertaining and family members, the kitchen features polished granite countertops, custom-glazed white cabinetry and Viking appliances.
"We wanted to create a good living space inside while utilizing all the sunshine that the property gets," says architect Shannon Alther of TMS Architects.
Working with Teleran Construction of Stratham, TMS created a multilevel, open-concept home with "a New England style," Alther says. The six-bedroom, cedar-shingled home sits on four acres (originally two housing lots), oriented to let the sun shine in.
The home's sustainable features include energy-efficient windows, a solar hot-water thermal collector and photo-voltaic laminate panels that convert solar radiation into electricity. Mounted on the house's south-facing metal roof (the remainder of the roof is asphalt shingles), the panels generate electricity to support a radiant-heating system in the home's five bathrooms as well as the ground floor game room and fitness area. The system also heats the home's water. From his computer, the homeowner can control the heating and cooling system, or even check on his electric and water usage.
To Alther, the home's "envelope," or structure, is what makes it energy efficient. "The home needs to be tight," he says. "If it has the right walls and windows, it will have lower heating and cooling costs." The structure has a high R-value, which measures the thermal resistance of a material to heat transfer. R-values are used to rate insulation products; the higher the R-value, the greater the insulation's effectiveness. In addition, insulation used in both the wall and roof cavities keeps the home warm in the winter and cooler during the summer.
The light-filled front hallway features high ceilings as well as curved architectural details that lead visitors into the home’s main living spaces and upstairs to the second floor.
The home's hilltop location, buffeted by wind in bad weather and unprotected from the sun, initially presented a challenge to landscape architect Doug Greiner of g2+1 in Salisbury. To accommodate the area's windy, dry conditions, Greiner designed a garden and two patio spaces along the home's south-facing side. The upper patio, finished in bluestone with a curved granite edge, invites access to the surrounding hilltop. The lower patio and flower garden are accessed by granite steppingstones framed with ground-cover plantings. Access to the home is via a switchback driveway stabilized with rock found on site and finished with native shrubs, grasses and wildflowers. The front entrance is reached through a small shade garden.
Inside, the home's open floor plan includes many windows with sunny views. Michael Cebula, of Cebula Design and a long-time TMS collaborator, says the owners wanted room to entertain family and friends so primary living spaces flow easily. "They didn't want anything to be off-limits to the grandchildren," Adams says. "They wanted everything to be comfortable and roomy enough to accommodate everyone."
The kitchen opens to the dining area and family room on two sides; a bank of windows along one wall as well as the windows from the dining and family rooms provide plenty of natural light. A bar area faces the family room, making it convenient for casual dining. Granite countertops, custom-glazed white cabinetry and a decorative tile backsplash make the kitchen pretty as well as practical.
Four, floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room over-look a large stone patio. Custom-made drapes and woven wooden shades help keep the room cool in the summer. Focusing on comfort, Cebula Design had the dining chairs fully upholstered. "They're very tactile, and you can use them as extra seating in the family room when you're entertaining," Adams says.
The family room is noteworthy for its high ceilings, numerous windows and detailed woodwork. A comfortable seating area in front of a large fireplace is the perfect spot to relax, read or watch television; the leather furniture can be easily moved or cleaned to accommodate young children. The living room is also open-concept, with high ceilings and furniture grouped around a second fireplace. Fine art and sculpture, most by New England artists, are placed around the room.
With its energy-saving features and spacious interiors, the house has become a gathering place for the homeowners' extended family. Beauty combined with energy conservation is a perfect formula for modern living.