Designing From The Inside Out

Looking in is like looking out; from the window placements to the paintings that hang on the walls, everything about this house reflects its mountain views.

ARCHITECTURE
Berlin Architects
berlinarchitects.com

Story By
Julie Fustanio Kling

Photos By
Jim Fairchild

If every house speaks a different language, the latest design by Berlin Architects is fluent in the echoes of the Teton Mountain Range. The rustic cedar-and-stone exterior is modest. But once you cross the threshold, rustic turns contemporary. The interior space resounds with natural light and views from enormous windows, establishing a secret vocabulary with nature.

Perched on a butte on the north side of Spring Gulch, the private residence is like a minimalist treehouse, a reflection of the restrictive footprint on the hilly 18-acre lot and the owners’ love of clean lines.

“The lot wasn’t so much of a challenge as it was a collaboration, because the owner has an architectural background,” says Gabriel Vazquez, Berlin’s project manager. The outcome is an architect’s—as well as the owner’s—dream house.

This project was three years in the making. The firm and the owners went back and forth with drawings and site plans that now fill a built-in bookshelf in the home’s office, the room with the most intimate vista of the Grand Teton.

“We created a rhythm with the windows,” Vazquez says. “And we were not shy about exposing all the structural steel holding the house up.”

Desert-red hues from the vertical-grain fir ceilings and white oak floors create warmth in winter and a contrast to the structural steel and the wall of windows, which feature white peaks and sage foothills.

The open floor plan exposes steel and celebrates the simplicity of the structure. The windows are oriented to capture views of the Tetons and sunsets—and to protect the interior from baking in the sun.

“Having the hills in the foreground gives perspective to the mountains and the valley floor,” says the firm’s founder, Larry Berlin. “It’s almost like a painting.”

The downstairs workout room and a cozy TV nook off the open kitchen/dining/living room are two of the only places to sit without facing a window. Clerestory windows recessed above a lower roof were chosen for the south side of the house to create a more inward-feeling space. Artwork is also minimal with paintings of Mount Moran and the Grand Cathedral on the only walls in the living area, speaking to the play of light on the mountains. Sunsets filter in from the windows above, providing gentle evening light onto the extensive north-facing patio.

In the twin master and junior master bedrooms, seamless, vertical-grain fir walls show the architect’s precision and draw the eye to the 90-degree windows, which offer two very different mountain views.

“The house was definitely designed around the views,” Berlin says. “The windows in each bedroom meet at 90-degree angles, joining two very different mountain scenes.” A view of the southernmost peak, Mount Glory, from the master bathroom’s west window inspires a more singular perspective than the broader views of the Teton Range from the other windows. Below, the junior master suite is a mirror image of the master.

We try not to design from the outside in, but from the inside out, to make our clients’ houses very personal to them.
— Larry Berlin

All of the downstairs bedrooms have private patios, with the exception of the kids’ room. The walls above the headboards and all of the furniture in the bedrooms are made of vertical-grain fir that matches up with an architect’s precision.

“We try not to design from the outside in, but from the inside out, to make our clients’ houses very personal to them,” Berlin says.

The steel-and-fir stairwell is lit by a clerestory window, which filters natural light from the south side of the house down from above the roofline.