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The Transformation of Hilltop House

Red House Design has transformed an outdated Cape-style house into an oasis of calm and modernity, open living and outdoor beauty.

Amazing views. We knew that they were there and it would take a lot of work to expose them and to re-imagine and open the house to capture them. Our challenge from our clients, through our studio – Red House Design — was to take an existing 1980s modified Cape home, set on a hilltop with long-range southern views obscured by dense trees and overgrown landscape, and do just that.

The homeowners loved the property, its location and surrounding landscape, but the structure was dated and dark and had to be reworked to fit their indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Awkward rooflines, the first thing you see from the driveway, give a haphazard first impression that feels more “back of house” than “front of house”.

Existing house with mismatched roof lines and small bedroom windows facing the view. Photo: Michael Alper
New enlarged windows now capture the view from the main living space and re-framed roof lines create visual harmony. Photo: Aaron Thompson

The orientation of the house on the site seemed backward, with the front door hidden in the rear and the overall living experience cut off from the spectacular setting.

Arrival to the existing house – where’s the front door? Photo: Michael Alper
Formal entry and new front door – come on in! Photo: Aaron Thompson

Existing windows were small, low-ceilinged rooms were cramped and dark, and a staircase cut the main living areas in two. The master bedroom was the sole space awarded views and light.

This was the existing front door and blank landscaping at the entry, all located on the back of the house, hemmed in by encroaching woods. The living areas faced the back, not the views. Photo: Michael Alper


Opening up the views with more windows, screen porch, and exposed stone outcroppings. Trees have been limbed and thinned to enhance long range views and passive solar. Photo: Aaron Thompson

This project was also an opportunity to address under-performing insulation, failed windows and an outmoded heating system. The renovation yielded an energy-efficient, tight house that exceeded current building codes for environmental standards.

We set out to create a spare, modern, open and light-filled home, with large shared living areas and private spaces for the owners and guests alike, without expanding the existing footprint. Relocating the staircase and moving rooms – the kitchen, master bedroom, and living/office spaces – allowed for more light, views and large spaces.

A new screen porch took advantage of sun, breezes and views in three directions, while connecting indoor and outdoor living experiences.

Screen Porch detail from the edge of the pool. Photo: Aaron Thompson
Screen Porch interior and views to distant mountains. Photo: Aaron Thompson

A series of retaining walls would allow for outdoor entertaining spaces along with a spa and large pool, extending the living areas into the landscape. Natural rock outcroppings were exposed and included in the landscape plan, along with clearing and thinning of trees to open the views, reworking the grading and extensive plantings.

Indoor/outdoor living and new landscaping. Photo: Aaron Thompson

With all of that accomplished, this Hilltop House is now an oasis of calm and modernity, open living and outdoor beauty.


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Ideally situated in the heart of downtown Stockbridge, and move-in ready

Elle Villetto and Jared Kelly of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty offer an 1860 colonial home, stylishly updated and move-in ready. See it now and be in before the summer!

A minimalist condo with maximum light

We often referred to this project as the “house of glass” because there is glass everywhere.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.