Subtle Elegance

Inspired by the whimsical charm of 19th-century Nantucket shingle-style architecture, this new custom residence in Potomac, Md., seems at first glance to be a decades-old family home.

March 01, 2003


Taking full advantage of shingle-style architectureÆs flexibility, Bruce Rich designed this New England home to feature a variety of dormers, shapes and textures. The columned front portico is a wonderful spot to greet guests, while the master bath provides the homeowners with a delightful retreat in a Victorian setting. The room features painted tongue-in-groove paneling on the walls and ceiling.


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Melding the best of old and new, the kitchen integrates modern appliances with historically inspired cabinetry design. Countertop materials include granite, limestone and stainless steel.
Prefabricated in London, the conservatory was assembled on site by two English craftsmen. A stone wall serves as a backdrop for the conservatory and is capped by curved, precast stone trim.

Inspired by the whimsical charm of 19th-century Nantucket shingle-style architecture, this new custom residence in Potomac, Md., seems at first glance to be a decades-old family home. Designed by architect Bruce Rich, the house appears unpretentious by design, though it is exceptionally elegant in terms of finishes and amenities.

From the street approach, the two-story homeÆs fieldstone and cedar exterior belies its 12,000-square-foot size. It features five bedrooms, two libraries, a spacious exercise room, a six-car garage and even a spectacular conservatory imported from England. It also provides its owners with a comfortable environment.

Rich says his clients wanted their new home to be spacious without overwhelming them and notes that this combination can be difficult to achieve in such a large house.

"The program for the design of this project called for a modestly scaled house that would appear, despite its size, to be welcoming and warm," says Rich. "My clients really had great restraint in how they wanted their home to look and wanted to avoid the appearance of showing off, so I worked hard to humanize it both in terms of the impact of the house on its site as well as how the rooms relate to each other inside. The shingle style they opted for really lent itself to accomplishing this goal."

The multimillion-dollar home's interior is more open than that of a true shingle plan, says Rich. "We deviated from the style by incorporating a number of volume ceilings in several key rooms," including the great room, kitchen and master bath, where ceiling heights range from 25 to 32 feet. "Still, the interior spaces on the main floor are not overly large. The rooms appear to flow together through arched doorways."

Rich's clients had a grand central staircase in their previous home but opted this time for a separate stair hall to the right of the formal foyer so that views of the great room and heavily wooded yard would be emphasized upon entering the home. "The staircase is still a very beautiful feature of the living space," says Rich, "but in this case it is not an overwhelming focal point."

The master suite occupies a private corner on the main floor. The bedroom features a curved ceiling that culminates in an arch-topped window overlooking a private garden. The playful octagon shape of the master bath adds character and interest to the exterior and interior of the home. The beadboard paneled ceiling in the bathroom rises more than 30 feet and culminates in a windowed cupola that provides natural lighting for this retreat.

The kitchen is designed to be an updated version of an authentic white wood kitchen from the late 1800s, right down to the custom-designed cabinetry that was modeled after a classic 19th-century design. Still, it contains every modern amenity.

An informal staircase adjacent to the kitchen provides alternate access to the upper floor, which has four spacious bedrooms and a reading nook. Balconies along the second-floor gallery overlook the great room, kitchen and conservatory.

Two garages, one detached from the main house, face each other across an interior car court, minimizing their impact from the street. The fully equipped exercise room, with a shower and full bath, occupies the space above the detached garage.

This home was completed in June 2002.

Style of Home | Shingle

Location | Potomac, Md.

Total Square Footage | 12,000

Hard Costs | $250 per square foot (excluding land)

Builder | Jeffco Development Corp., Rockville, Md.

Architect | Bruce A. Rich Associates, Rockville

Interior Designer | Joseph Paul Davis Interior Design, Washington

Custom primary residence for upscale client

Major Products Used | Appliances: Sub-Zero, Viking, Miele | Countertops: granite, limestone, stainless steel | Cabinetry: Wood-Mode | Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler, Waterworks | Doors: TruStile | Home Controls & Automation: Lightolier (Brilliance II dimming system) | Lighting: Lightolier | Windows: Vetter | Exterior: fieldstone, cedar | Roofing: cedar shake

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