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This is a lake house on a very steep site. It is positioned to act as a camera to the lake, and to maximize the lake view.

The house had to comply with the gated community’s restrictive covenants regarding roof pitch, building materials, and colors. The goal was to make the house as compelling as possible, given the restrictive covenants and the site’s quickly falling topography.

The house is entered by walking up a gently stepped, staggered breezeway, into the main level, on the third floor. This arrangement gives the living, dining, and kitchen spaces the best views and the highest ceilings.

The main volume of the house is a stacked, compact, three story, asymmetrically gabled volume, which holds all of the “house” functions (cooking, dining, living, and sleeping). This portion is angled to maximize views of the lake.

At the end of the main volume is a more random, less orthogonal landscape component, anchoring the house to its site. This section was designed with a more provisional spirit, like a child’s tree house. The decks, beams, and columns aren’t neatly stacked or lined up, but are more situational, and nearly chaotic.

On the interior of the house, each wood truss has a different geometry, since the volume of the house widens as it reaches towards the lake. A dry stack limestone fireplace anchors the gable end of the house. Embedded in the stonework are mementos from the client’s life, including fossils, bones, a horseshoe, padlocks, and his first toy—a blue metal truck. In-floor tree wells are placed among the third floor living area furniture, bringing plants into the house and helping delineate between the kitchen and the living areas.

Exterior building materials are earthy and natural, to comply with, yet challenge, the overarching covenants in the lake community. They include rough, wavy-edged wood siding, natural stone, standing seam metal roofing, and copper siding. The quilt-like copper siding was fabricated from copper sheets, which were folded into a grid pattern before installation.


  • Builder: Patriot Homes, Inc.; Winchester, Virginia
  • Structural & Civil Engineer: Painter-Lewis P.L.C., Winchester, Virginia
  • Photography: Reader & Swartz Architects, P.C.; Winchester,Virginia /Shaun Galang – Aerial Photography Winchester, Virginia