When we moved to the mobile home on the property at Bunny Vista, we didn’t know that we would live here for almost four years before we began to build the house; I am really happy to have gotten to know our lot for a while before we began. We’ve experienced summer breezes and winter gales and enjoyed the view of pastures, vineyard, mountains and sky from different elevations on the sloped property. We’ve watched the way the setting sun shifts position over the mountains as the seasons change. We waited and waited in darkness as the sun began to rise over the ridge and woods at the back of our lot and shone across the hollow onto Emerson and E. Anne’s house. We’ve had the opportunity to grow to love this peaceful little place enough to know that we want to live here for the rest of our lives.
All of the discoveries we made helped us begin to design the house to catch the summer breeze and shelter us from the winter storms, to enjoy the views, to make the house comfortable and easy to live in, and to help us enjoy the sunset and catch the sun’s rays a bit earlier in the day.
Our 4 1/2 acre property was carved out of the Croft farm. It faces west, looking across a pasture to a ridge with a road running along the top of the ridge. In the winter, when I stand outside facing west, I can see a neighbor’s house on my right, to the north, through the trees in the wooded area on both our properties. In the summer, that house is almost invisible because of the leaves. Directly in front of me I see the fenced pasture, which turns at a right angle and runs along the fence on my left all the way up the slope to the back of our lot. Behind me the lot slopes upward and again there is a wooded area. The fencing of Sugar Loaf Farm forms the back boundary of our property.
Our gravel driveway is on a little dogleg just ten to twenty yards wide. It is about 1/10 mile long. When I turn into the driveway from Miller Farm Road, I drive for a little distance between the pasture to the west and my neighbor’s driveway to the east. Our house is not visible, but finally the driveway curves and I am home.
When the house is finished, the new driveway will run behind it rather than in front as it does now. We will park in back and enter from one of two doors on the back of the house. My Pop often reminded me that “our weather comes out of the west.” Certainly, the wind usually comes out of the west–and it is almost always windy here. In the summer, the wind is a treat and a treasure. In the winter, it can be a misery when it’s cold and dark. I wanted the entrances to the house to be sheltered from the wind. I also wanted easy access to the house, only a couple of steps up. Having the entrances at the back shelters us and our visitors from the wind and allows us to come and go without climbing a lot of steps.
The shed addition will run along the entire length of the back of the house. It will house the mudroom, the kitchen, the hall, and the master bathroom. The kitchen bumps out about six feet beyond the rest of the shed addition.
Kelley, Lewis, Peter, and Jordan have worked hard to make sure that this house, with all its different materials and building techniques, will be a comfortable and beautiful home. Jordan calls from Mount Jackson at least once every day to consult with the other three. Peter created a floor plan that emphasizes the traditional materials and fine workmanship, creates interesting spaces, and makes the house visually coherent. He continues to work with Kelley, Lewis, and Jordan as the house evolves, helping us see our way through the inevitable changes–Peter has at least one good idea a minute. Lewis, who describes himself as a problemsolver, is building this house as if he were going to live in it himself. With his practical approach and ability to see his way through difficulties, he is making Kelley’s and Peter’s ideas work. Kelley continues to oversee it all, complicated as it is, scheduling all the different builders, shoveling mud out of the basement, and making his dream come to life.