For a repeat client seeking the ultimate country escape, two design luminaries craft a rustic contemporary getaway
The long-standing rapport among a homeowner, architect and designer can prove to be invaluable over time. After all, when building or remodeling a house, there is no end to the surprises, challenges and unexpected twists and turns that can stress even the strongest alliances. A design shorthand often comes into play when the parties involved already have intimate knowledge of each other’s preferences after completing a project, which makes working together again a great recipe for success.
Case in point: a newly built hunt camp located between Lake Martin and Auburn, Alabama, which is the sixth project between the homeowner and architect David Baker of Montgomery-based Tippett Sease Baker Architecture. It is also the second collaboration between the homeowner and Atlanta interior designer Susan Ferrier. “There’s a knowledge about how he lives, what he needs,” says Baker of the husband, who not only envisioned the getaway as an intimate retreat for his wife, son and daughter, but also an active hub that could accommodate larger gatherings. “It’s become a destination for family and friends for hunting, weddings and even concerts,” says Baker. On weekends, there’s no shortage of activities—from active pursuits (riding all-terrain vehicles around the property) to easy-does-it (circling around the outdoor firepit on cool evenings).
The structure is sited on the highest point of the property, taking in the wide-open meadow and pond below. “The location is the best for capturing the views,” adds Baker. Honoring that sense of place was paramount in terms of design strategy as well. Marrying rusticity with refinement, a sophisticated barn-style structure seemingly sprouts from the land as if it were always meant to be. Though it’s all new, a sense of timelessness pervades with other authentic touches such as a corrugated metal roof and red barn-style doors. Continuing that celebration of all things local, even the home’s stone foundation was quarried in Alabama.
Inside, Ferrier devised a design scheme that’s not only stylish but can also withstand the rigors of regular entertaining and larger gatherings, not to mention the paw prints of four-legged friends. “There are always going to be dogs there,” she says with a laugh. Canine-friendly fabrics and rugs give way to human creature comforts as well. In the main living space, she designed seating arrangements not only for conversation but activities too. Contemporary furnishings balance the home’s more rough-hewn features, and Ferrier also took inspiration from the surrounding countryside for the home’s overall palette. Dark colors unify the spaces, many of which flow from one right into the other. White accents are the perfect foil to add reflectivity and a touch of lightness when needed. “Turkey feathers were the launch point for the colors we selected for the house,” says Ferrier. “When I can pull something from the earth, I feel really satisfied.”
Satisfaction also stemmed from the collaboration. “As a designer, there’s something about doing a second or third project with a client that I love,” she says. “It allows the opportunity to give them a much deeper experience in how they relate to beauty.” Baker concurs: “When you work with a great team, it’s so natural and easy.” And while a new project with the homeowner hasn’t been slated at the moment, that leaves more time to enjoy the pleasures of this one. “The house is calm. It makes sense here,” says Ferrier. “I’m glad we stayed true to where the house is and what it was supposed to be. We didn’t try to be contrived. It’s comfortable, and there’s beauty in this comfort. There’s a lot of heart in this place.”