A Silvery Country House That Reflects The Woods Around It

The metallic skin of this woodland hideaway is meant to take on the color palette of its surroundings.

If you were charged with building a house in the woods, you’d have to be a blockhead not to try to incorporate the surrounding nature into the design. That’s Architecture 101. But in building the Dutchess House No. 1 in Millerton, New York, the architecture firm Grzywinski + Pons went a step further. They designed the home’s exterior to complement the natural color palette surrounding it.


The exterior materials of matte aluminum and ipe wood, architect Matthew Grzywinski explains, “amplify the progression of hues both throughout the day and throughout the seasons”–a nice touch for those staying in the detached guest house with a prime view of the main home. As the leaves change color and the surrounding woods transform in appearance, so too does the house. The aluminum also has the benefit of having a high solar reflectance rating, meaning it doesn’t pick up too much unwanted heat from the sun. And it’s cheap–it comes with the mill finish, untreated, straight from the manufacturer.

Envisioned as a country respite for city-dwelling clients, one of the main directives for the home was harmony with the environment. To this end, meticulous attention was paid to sight lines and “seasonal variations in the quality and direction of light” coming into the dwelling. If you thought all natural light was created equal, well, you’re mistaken. An open air “perch” off the master bedroom offers a view of the surrounding woods, allowing the inhabitants to remain outside even when the downstairs is locked up for the evening. And though Grzywinski says they didn’t want the house and cottage to “wear their green credentials on their sleeve,” there’s a good deal of sustainable detail in the construction, too. An on-demand hot-water system means there isn’t any energy wasted when the house is unoccupied, and the home itself is heated from beneath with a hydronic radiant slab.

The detached guest house was another specific request by the clients; they wanted a place they could rent out on a nightly basis to help offset the costs of construction. It might be time to search Airbnb for upstate New York.

[Hat tip Contemporist]