Modern Mill House

Location: Charlottesville, VA

The clients wanted us to design and build a high-end three-bedroom spec home with a distinctive mill house influence. They had traveled extensively throughout Europe studying old mills and gathering ideas for their dream house and turned to Kohlmark Group to transform their research into reality. They acquired a large, seven-acre lot bordered by a lovely meandering creek and dramatic topography. Unfortunately, the majority of the lot was located in a flood plane and therefore, unbuildable.

Selecting an appropriate build site was not straightforward. We needed adequate slope to accommodate the clients desire for an under-house garage and settled on a steep section of the property with nice views of the stream and a meadow.

The home was designed as a tall vertical structure that evokes the image of an old mill. The house is clad in redwood horizontal siding with a natural stain and is visually anchored to the site with a one-story stone base. Stone buttresses and curved walls add color, texture and interest to the otherwise simple form as do the millstone and bridge that lead to the entrance. The copper standing seam roof compliments the natural materials and has taken on a lovely green patina over time.

The house is approached down a simple winding path with a raised mill stone landscape feature that acts as a fountain and immediately sets the theme for the project. The entry bridge crosses a dry creek bed and was designed to resemble a millrace. A hayhood was used on the front elevation above the entrance to further enhance the project. The interior is visually anchored by two central core chimney elements, which rise four stories through the house and penetrate the roof as 8′ tall stone chimneys. The entire open plan concept revolves around these two core elements including the central staircase that rises three stories. The house is filled with two-story interior spaces, which open the house vertically as well as horizontally. This transparency allows natural light to filter throughout the entire house. Pine floors, handmade kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, reclaimed mantles, reclaimed beams and built-in cabinets add to the dramatic effect of the interior. The rear of the house opens to an elevated wood deck, which was designed with a truss floor structure to resemble an old railroad trestle, and rests on two sloped stone buttresses, which support the deck. Wire railings were used to improve the visibility. A curved stone wall below the deck level encloses a lower level patio for entertaining and adds to the vertical elevation, making the house appear to be approximately five stories in height.