Striking lake house in North Carolina: Piedmont Residence

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The Piedmont Residence is a modern lake house designed by Carlton Architecture, located on a 13-acre site in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Charlotte, North Carolina. The residence overlooks a mountain lake with expansive mountain views beyond. The clients were a couple of Connecticut empty nesters originally from England, natural beauty and proximity to an international airport for flying to the U.K. were important. They worked with the architect to create a 3,500 square foot modern home that takes advantage of its gorgeous location.

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The design ties the home to its surroundings and enhances the ability to experience both home and nature together. The entry level serves as the primary living space and is situated into three groupings; the Great Room, the Guest Suite and the Master Suite. A glass connector links the Master Suite, providing privacy and the opportunity for terrace and garden areas.

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The house is laid out like a flattened U or a chevron, consisting of the main pavilion on one end (right side in this photo) and the master suite on the other end (left side). A glass structure next to a large terrace links the two parts of the house.

Here we are looking at the south side of the house, which opens itself up for views and sunlight, while overhangs help with summer shading. From here we can grasp the horizontal layering of the house: Wood roofs sit above walls of wood, glass and the occasional weathered steel, all above a stone base.

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The other side of the house, oriented to the north, is more solid. Dark-stained cedar siding in a vertical tongue and groove configuration predominates, bookending the full-height glazing in the master suite’s exercise room (foreground) and the guest suite in the distance; the entrance can be seen jutting into the yard between the two.

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The master suite can be seen on the far south and west side of the house. Looking from the large terrace next to the glass link, we see not only the master bedroom but the lap pool it overlooks.

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The lap pool fits the owners’ healthy lifestyle. Making it part of the stone plinth upon which the house sits is a nice touch; it’s as if the water feature is part of the site.

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Local craftspeople designed the front door, a large, balanced (rather than hinged) wooden door that matches the soffits. A large steel handle is set into the door in an L configuration.

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Once inside the front door, one has two options: turn left to the living area and other rooms (kitchen, study, guest suite) or right to the master suite. Here we are looking to the right, down the hallway that becomes the glass link before ending by the master bedroom at a James Turrell–inspired piece with blue paint and lighting set into the Sheetrock of the far wall.

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There are two skylights, one over the kitchen island and one raking the white-oak cabinets beyond. These long apertures bring additional light into the large and long space while also directing one’s gaze to the window and view beyond. The island was fabricated in concrete by local craftspeople.

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Steel and wood are used in the built-in storage and window seat in the corridor past the opening here. This creates some continuity between the two spaces, while making the corridor a place to be, not just a place to walk through.

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One moves through the mudroom, then turns right to ascend the stairs to the living area, where the space opens as one rises and the view through the glass gets more and more expansive.

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The master bedroom takes in a view of the terrace, pool, trees and sky. A large wall of weathered steel anchors the terrace, adding some texture to the exterior yet fitting with its dark and modern palette.

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The master bathroom sits at the other end of the lap pool. Access to the lap pool is through the bathroom, which has an enclosed water closet (behind the door at left). This situation allows the swimmer to bathe before and after a swim and not drip water through the house.

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Here is the view from the study-bedroom that cantilevers over the driveway. The view is breathtaking, and the cantilever creates the impression of floating, since the trees extend down below the edge of the glass at the floor.

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Stone and wood were not the first choice for Carlton and his clients. An initial design of poured-in-place concrete met resistance from the board of the planning community where the house is located. Even though the north side of the house is hidden on approach due to the trees and topography, the community shies away from “bright” materials like concrete.

A break in the stone wall in the foreground leads to the front door, which is set off from the adjacent walls through the lighter wood. Note the other paths and doors that lead to the master suite via the glass link on the right, and to the guest suite on the left.


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