Some houses are so perfect for their setting, they seem to have sprung up on their own. In reality, it can be a challenge to make a house feel like part of the landscape and architect Chris Hall is well known for his talent for doing just that. A Medfield family hired him not only to design their house, but also the surrounding landscape, so the outdoor living spaces would feel like extensions of their home.
HOME & LANDSCAPE DESIGN Architect Chris Hall
PHOTOGRAPHED BY Diane Anton Photography
“The clients had seen several of my houses and really liked the way the houses met the landscape,” Hall says. “And they really wanted their spaces to feel proportionately correct and to scale,” he says.
The clients chose a Shingle-style home with an extensive use of New England fieldstone that gracefully flows over their sloping lot. They wanted a large room count but didn’t want the house to appear huge from the outside. With that in mind, Hall artfully designed the second floor to rest in the roofline in a way that keeps the outward mass of the house from appearing too overwhelming.
An extensive useof exterior detailing like columns, triangular rooflines and repeating windows provides the perfect balance to the equally extensive use of interior detailing such as custom crown molding, wood paneling and door trims. The resulting effect is that when you approach the front door, you can almost imagine what the interior looks like.
Another hallmark of Hall’s design concepts is a creative use of windows, both horizontal and vertical to allow for the maximum amount of natural light. The centerpiece of his window design for this house is a light tower high above the foyer.
“It’s a light cylinder that allows daylight to penetrate right into the center of the house in a dramatic way,” Hall says, of the light-filled space.
The foyer, with its sweeping marble staircase and upper landing, showcases wrought iron balusters with a mahogany railing. It sets an elegant tone that continues throughout the house.
“They were looking for a house that could function for a family of four that would serve their informal needs with an open kitchen, family room, dining area and screened porch, but at the same time fit their needs for formal entertaining,” Halls says.
Like most families, their kitchen is the central gathering place and a large central island with seating for six allows for family conversations and informal meals. But Hall was sensitive to the cook’s needs leaving an uninterrupted cooking space on one side of the kitchen that isn’t affected by the room’s circulation.
“The space allows for the cook to do his or her thing but everybody else can stay on the perimeter,” Hall says.
Each room has the appropriate level of detailing to fit its function. A beamed ceiling in the kitchen flows seamlessly into the family room, visually connecting the two more casual areas. Stained mahogany paneling gives the billiard room a rich gentlemanly tone. The champagne and white formal living room features ornate crown molding, recessed shelving and a delicately carved mantle. Even the entryways into rooms, such as the one leading to the formal dining room, are a perfect marriage of form and function.
“There’s an archway allowing for a threshold between rooms that allows somebody to experience a transition between spaces that gives import and ceremony going from a more public to a more private room,” Hall says.
All of this attention to detail adds up to one thing: a homeowner whose house is a perfect reflection of their taste and lifestyle. Hall wouldn’t have it any other way.