Living in Nature’s Light
by Connie Gentry
Photography by Keith Isaacs
3,214 square feet
Four bedrooms, four and a half baths
Built in 2016
Location: North Raleigh, near Creedmoor Road and 540
Architect: in situ studio
Builder: Aiello Builders
In the City of Oaks, where premium lots have become scarce and neighborhoods come with strict guidelines, a home that’s built with an eye to the view from the inside out—rather than traditional curb appeal—can pose challenges. That was certainly the case in this North Raleigh neighborhood, where architecture veers to stately
traditional façades and homes are priced well over $500,000.
Architect Matthew Griffith, AIA, of in situ studio, worked with the owners (who prefer to remain anonymous) to design a home that would nest into this beautifully wooded lot and provide expansive views from every room into the forest and nature surrounding them.
The rectangular-shaped house stretches east/west and is “completely transparent,” Griffith says, thanks to full-height windows that span floor-to-ceiling on the north and south sides. The north side fronts the forest; the south side opens into the courtyard. “You can stand in the courtyard and see through the house into the woods,” he says.
In addition to the negotiations required to bring such a contemporary design into a traditional neighborhood, the site itself was a challenge given that the house is far below the street, a drainage easement runs along the front of the property, and there was a flood plain to work around. Griffith says the project, start to finish, took around two years because six to eight months were consumed by the permitting process.
During the day, natural light illuminates the living areas and nary a light need be turned on. The downstairs is designed with a single common space for kitchen, dining, and living areas, plus a second master suite to welcome relatives on extended visits from other countries.
The floor-to-ceiling Jeld-Wen Premium Vinyl Windows, 10 feet by 6 feet, are the largest size available in the U.S., says Griffith, adding “any bigger and we’d have to get them from Germany.” Jeld-Wen Premium Vinyl Windows are known for their durability, energy efficiency, and low maintenance.
Energy efficiency is also enhanced thanks to the roof overhang above the upstairs windows as well as the wider overhang above the lower windows on the south side. Many windows on the south side can be opened to catch the prevailing southwest winds and provide natural cooling and ventilation. Spray foam insulation was used throughout the home to increase insulation.
Simple, clean design and natural elements define every detail, including the hardwood flooring, a beautiful white oak with a clear water-based sealer. The entry is subtle and private, with a frosted-glass front door. “The whole design,” Griffith notes, “is intended to set up that ‘wow’ moment when you walk inside the home” and are instantly greeted by vistas into the surrounding nature.
The upstairs includes the master suite, children’s bedrooms and baths, and a family room. “So many homes are much larger than they need to be, and the size and scale of this house are perfect for a family,” Griffith says.