TsAO & McKOWN Design View-Optimized Masterpiece Home in Alford, Massachusetts
Not everyone can acquire the services of Interior Designing Hall of Fame inductees Calvin Tsao and Zack McKown.
Tsao and McKown Architects won’t design just any house; they have specifically stated that they would rather design a home than anything else.
The difference between a house and a home is quite simple. Anyone can live in a house, but it won’t necessarily be a home. A home is defined by a family and not by the bricks, the wood or any other architectural support system. The real support is the family.
Maybe that’s why Tsao and McKown have famously said, “We do homes only for people we know intimately. The challenge and pleasure is to design a home rather than a house that could be inhabited by anyone.”
Designing a home is not an easy task, even if you’re doing it for a couple who have been your long-time friends and you have 20 acres to work with. Imagine that, 20 whole acres! The ideas and possibilities are endless, but there’s a lot of pressure when you know the people you’re working for.
You need to think carefully about everything and check with the couple about practically every tile and vase you install.
The architects’ main goal was to create a house with a different view from every corner – morning, evening and night. To achieve that purpose, the shape of the house couldn’t be the standard rectangle you see everywhere. Instead, the 7,000-square-foot house follows the path of the sun, resulting in TsAO & McKOWN Design View-Optimized Masterpiece Home in Alford, Massachusetts. Those angles allow the large windows on the outward-facing side of the C to frame unique mountain scenes.
There are, however, very few windows around the courtyard. The exterior is dominated by gray-stained cedar, zinc, granite, limestone, and slate, all local materials. The inside of the curve “provides a center, so you’re not always radiating out,” Tsao says. It also serves as a front courtyard, approached through a porte-cochère that slices through the C to separate the garage from everything else on the main level. “There’s a sense of arrival and of penetration into the house,” Tsao continues.
From here, the house presents itself as three wings with juxtaposed pitched and shed roofs. “There is a weaving of volumes and planes that fold the same way the building folds,” McKown says.
From the living area, the main level curves away in both directions, with shifting perspectives shaped by the angled walls and ceiling. The dining area and kitchen are to one side, the study and master suite to the other. “Every space is pretty discrete, despite the fact that there are no privacy issues, no need to close doors,” Tsao says, explaining that the husband and wife like to feel connected to each other even when they’re at opposite ends of the house. McKown adds, “We listened to all their narratives about open space versus intimate space.”
You really need to understand where these guys were coming from: they had to consult the couple on every detail. And one thing which the couple would never dream of compromising on was the color scheme. They wanted subtle colors, and Tsao and McKown certainly delivered. Shades of celadon, bone, ivory, chalk, linen, and wheat whisper differently in every season, absorbing and reflecting the greens of spring and summer or complementing the browns and grays of winter.
Being friends with amazing architects apparently has its benefits, in this case a beautiful house which the couple knew they had major control over. Hire a designer or architect off the street and they’ll just want a brief set of instructions that they’ll adjust according to their own creative vision. It’s a lot different when the architects know you and know – and care about – what you want and need.
The interior of the house is designed in the most modern style, with bold lines and a stark aspect. Nothing looks out of place; everything is in coherence.
The rooms are all spacious and very well designed, with beautifully alternating views at different hours of the day. The huge sliding glass windows allow natural light to add more beauty to the home.
These bedrooms are absolutely beautiful with their themed colors and angled roof. It might seem peculiar at first, but you soon realize that it might just as likely be a masterpiece.
No home is complete without a perfect space for you to unwind – here, a home library.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t live in a house if the bathrooms aren’t both spacious and in tune with the overall design of the house. If the bathroom is alright, I love the house! This bath is beyond alright. The attention to every detail is breathtaking.
The modern design is exemplified by bold angles and stark lines.
All in all, these architects have delivered on their promise to make any project into a home – and they have delivered in not just this example, but in everything they have ever done. Tsao and McKown have shown everyone why they deserve to be on the list of the best designers and architects of all time.
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