A couple with Maryland roots decided to move back home from New York with their two children. The husband’s job – he is an international salt dealer – was the inspiration for the 4,860-square-foot house’s blocky form. The architects helped scout the suburban half-acre site for their clients, and then kept the footings and foundation of a previous house on the site intact. To maintain the low scale common to the neighborhood, they buried the first and second stories into a slope.
The wood structure is clad in stucco, with long, linear windows that obscure the scale of the house. The architects note that from the front, it appears to be three stories, but from the back, where the slope rises, it looks like one. Inside, blonde ash floors help to reflect the natural light. A family room encompasses a double height space with views to the second floor and a glass balustrade. A stairway and an elevator are the two vertical elements that divide the house. One must pass between them to reach the kitchen from the family room.