Imagine a home set high on a hill with trees forming the interior columns, a massive tumble of boulders housing a firepit and natural elements everywhere. That’s what Geoffrey Wolcott envisioned as he set about building a dream home in Stowe for two skiers from New Jersey.
“Initially, the owners were thinking log cabin,” says Geoffrey Wolcott, principal of Stowe’s GKW Working Design. “That quickly evolved to employing trees as exposed structural elements in the style of the great camps in the Adirondacks.”
As Wolcott and senior designer John Springer envisioned the mountain retreat, the project became progressively more ambitious. Their firm took on responsibility for every aspect of the interior and landscape design, from foundation to furnishings, and managed the construction.
Set high on a hillside, the home’s terrace (above) looks west toward the ski trails on Mt. Mansfield. Outdoor living spaces are everywhere: A bridge deck connects the library over the garage to an elevated terrace above the tunnel entry. From the terrace, salvaged granite steps lead down to the garden courtyard. “Much of the design was driven by an effort to capture the qualities of cabin living,” says Wolcott. Fire, water and trees play a central role.
In the kitchen, a fireplace (lef) is framed by what appears to be a precarious assembly of weathered granite and the flames reflect off the polished zinc and claro walnut kitchen table. Wolcott designed the table, which seats 12, and much of the other furnishings. To build the table (and the numerous other intricate details throughout this demanding project), Wolcott worked with craftsmen Jeff DiMartino and Frank Del Gaiso to make the project a success. For structural columns, Wolcott handpicked more than 35 trees for their root shape, character, and robustness, including an immense sugar maple, cut from the property, that serves as support for the laminated stair treads. The stairs wind up three levels around it.
Tree trunks and logs serve as posts and beams—showcased in the garage and porch. “There’s not one square inch of drywall in the entire house,” says Wolcott. Instead, walls are wormy mahogany or reclaimed white cedar and the ceilings, painted poplar—as in the master bedroom.
The designers literally brought nature indoors, creating sometimes lofty but intimate spaces by introducing over-sized elements like the cascade of 200-plus tons of boulders in the entry.
Wolcott scouted the boulders for this central fireplace from fields north of Stowe and then, working alongside mason John Abrahamson, positioned each element so that the fire is open on three sides: to the entry itself, the atrium and the kitchen. The final touch? A waterfall, tamed to a soothing trickle, flows over two 36,000-pound anchor stones and into a reflecting pool.
This theme carries from indoors to out: a tunnel leads to a recessed garden courtyard and a waterfall that spills 25 feet down a granite wall.
The rough stone and natural wood shapes contrast with the more modern and refined materials and detailing found throughout. Continually updated over the past two decades, the home has become a living thing that melds with the mountains—a truly great camp.
Design and photography by Geoffrey Wolcott, Working Design, Inc.