Contemporary Lake House

When big architecture comes to a small town, it’s bound to attract attention. This house, atop a hill in the northwest corner of Connecticut, is no exception. Some of the neighbors, bewildered by its flat, pale façade, have asked the owners, Norval and Camilla White, “When are the shutters arriving?” and “What color is going to be?” Others, entranced by its simplicity, have inquired, “What style is it?”

The answers, respectively, are, “There won’t be any shutters”; “We’ve already stained it white”; and “Distilled vernacular.” That’s the phrase coined by the couple to describe their seductively spare structure. “It’s a typical New England building, taken down one level of detail,” explains Norval, who is the co-author of the classic AIA Guide to New York City (and therefore eminently qualified to name the style). Camilla explains that when it came to details such as moldings and overhangs, they didn’t eliminate them — something a minimalist might do – but kept them small and simple.

Article by architect Fred Bernstein first published in Metropolitan Home – April 2002
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