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The Nut House by Flower Architecture: A Modern Gem in a Historic Setting

How do you build a modern house in a protected historic neighborhood? This was the challenge Flower Architecture faced with their latest project, The Nut House. Their solution was a masterful blend of contemporary design and traditional elements, creating a home that both honors and elevates its surroundings.

david lauer photography

Contextual Harmony

Flower Architecture began their design process by immersing themselves in the neighborhood's character. They drew inspiration from the area's evocative details: juliet balconies, delicate gable filigree woodwork, simple gable roof forms, and inviting front porches. The result? A modern home that seamlessly integrates into the historic fabric of the neighborhood.

The Nut House features a steep, single gable roof with a wide, welcoming porch. Its modest width and height are in keeping with the neighboring homes, while a classic juliet balcony adds a touch of charm. The low roof rafter and one-and-a-half story form necessitated creative solutions for the upper levels. Flower Architecture employed simple shed dormers toward the back half of the house, allowing the purity of the street-facing elevation to shine: a triangle on a rectangle. A corbeled-and-slanted chimney provides a vertical counterpoint from the sidewalk view and cleverly accommodates another dormer on the north side. All sleeping quarters are tucked together below the gable, keeping the family close on one floor.

Ryan Hughes
Nicholas Fiore
Nicholas Fiore

Modern Wolf in Traditional Clothing

The modernity of The Nut House is evident in its details. The gable roof is a thin folded plane with thin fascia, while the traditional gable filigree is reimagined as a strong visual screen element and light box, serving as a useful filter for car headlights at the T-intersection. The brick chimney features textural corbeling and a sloping shoulder, adding both visual interest and historical reference. The gable screen motif repeats on the mudroom walls and as a custom screen door, whose handle - a meld of wood and steel - stands out as a subtle, cherished detail.

Inside, the home boasts clean, crisp, warm wood built-ins in every room: desks, banquettes, window seats, cubbies, dowel-hooks, and even climbing walls. Paneling and cabinetry in white oak and walnut add warmth to the interiors, while quirks and alignments compose a harmonious space with steel elements interspersed as needed. A standout feature is the main bedroom ceiling, composed of lap siding installed at an angle and aligned perfectly at the ridge - a favorite of the carpenters.

Nicholas Fiore
Ryan Hughes
Nicholas Fiore

Radical and Fun

Flower Architecture infused The Nut House with a sense of playfulness. A slide hidden in a coat closet whisks you to a room below. The ninja room, complete with climbing walls, spaceframes, hammocks, swings, and ropes, features a 'carbonite Han Solo' door that 'beep-boops'. A 'floor window' in the living room offers a peek into the ninja room below, while a psychedelic 'infinity room' - a foundation quirk enhanced with mirrors, light tubes, and a wood viewport - creates a mesmerizing lighting installation.

Nicholas Fiore
Nicholas Fiore
Ryan Hughes
Nicholas Fiore

Sustainable Systems

The Nut House is as sustainable as it is stylish. It features a ground-source geothermal system for heating (hydronic) and cooling (air), making the house net zero with a HERS rating of 0. Additional green features include two car charging outlets, an HRV system, 100% LED smart-control lighting, and a 16kW photovoltaic array on the garage.

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