Originally owned and built by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Horn as their retirement home, the house was designed by architect Ringo Young in the early 1970s.
“‘Viewed from the air the house is shaped like a fish,’ Yung said of his design, pleased by the subtle touch appropriate to the location.
‘I even chose the site,’ Yung said, a choice that Horn considered unlikely indeed, he said with a laugh, as the lot in neither wide nor level. ‘It’s a narrow finger of land, but interesting,” said Yung.
‘We decided to keep as many trees as possible and face the house toward them to the south. A veranda overlooks the creek.’ The aim, he said, was for clean lines, maximum living space, and close relationship between indoors and outdoors.”
Graylend and his wife, as the second generation to own the home enlisted the services of local architect Randall Kipp to extensively remodel it. The design intent was to increase the size of the home, building on the principles of its stunning modern vernacular. The home required additional space and a new internal stair to accommodate the Horn’s growing young family. Equally important was to transform all of its outdated systems: electrical, mechanical and building envelope. Using current 21st century technology, the home is now delightfully comfortable, yet economical to operate. Kipp thoughtfully incorporated environmentally sensitive materials and equipment into the design. His history and deep appreciation for modern architecture and contemporary building sciences made him an ideal partner for this renovation.
The width of the lot predetermined that the house footprint was obligated to be long and narrow. The double glass garage doors are the fist glimpse of the house once you enter the long, winding gravel drive. The glass that makes up the garage doors are fabricated from tinted glass. Lights inside the garage are often left on to provide a warm inviting glow, acting as two beacons at the end of a path.
The front door, which is located on the side of the home is not immediately obvious, but a clever group of way finding devices have been set up to guide the unfamiliar guest. The first clues are the garage doors, the second a large, high circular planter, which directs you to the third clue: a blue stone walk that leads you on your way. The entrance side of the house has LED wall sconces that light up and down, lighting not only the pathway, but the side of the building as well.
As you walk the path, the beauty of the lot and the creek are revealed. The steep topography is to your left, and the view of the water is in front of you. A single step raises you off the blue stone path and onto a wooden deck. The deck was intentionally built out of wood. Wood is still one of the greenest materials available to architects and builders, and its use is an emotional nod to all of the nature surrounding the home.
The guardrail that wraps the wood deck was fabricated from stainless steel. This allowed the use of very thin upright posts and horizontal cables. The feeling is as if you are in a tree house with very little that separates you from the nature that surrounds you. At the end of the wood deck, a roof visually frames the creek. The roof provides a simple, but effective passive solar device that prevents the hot summer sun from entering the building, yet allowing the winter sun to penetrate the home to warm the great room.
The procession to the entrance passes the bedrooms, which have smaller and taller windows than the great room providing privacy. The closer you get to the entrance, more and more glass becomes obvious. The guest is being welcomed to the door by the views into the great room and to the creek beyond.
The great room is comprised of the kitchen, dining, and living areas. It is a large room, perhaps 65 or 70 feet long and 24 feet wide; the ceiling slopes from low as you enter the home, to high on the far side of the great room. The room is framed with steel beams, every six feet, situated above the roof plane, so the ceiling is literally hung from the beams. The room is almost completely framed in floor to ceiling glass on two sides of the roof: the entrance and waterside. The opposite side of the great room has almost no glass intentionally turning its back on the neighbors closest to it.
The lighting for the great room and all of the other rooms in the house is done with square recessed LED and fluorescent lights. Each light fixture consumes no more than 17 to 27 watts when fully lighted. All of the LED and fluorescent lights in the home operate on dimmers to further reduce the amount of light used as well as its energy consumption. LED lights do not have traditional light bulbs that need to be replaced when they burn out. LED lights have a life expectancy rated in hours, but generally speaking 15-20 years before the internal electronic driver needs to be replaced.
Two scene controllers manage the lighting throughout the house. The scene controllers include presets for each lighting area designating a predetermined amount of light. Four settings can be saved in the controllers allowing different lighting settings in the entire house with a touch of a button.
All of the rooms and spaces in the home are heated and cooled using a geothermal HVAC system. Closed loop wells, approximately 200 feet deep are drilled into the earth, which has a constant ambient temperature of approximately 55 degrees here in the Northern Neck of Virginia. The geothermal system depends on water from the earth at 55 degrees rather than the changing outdoor air temperature ranging from 0 degrees to 100 degrees to provide its efficiency. The system stores the water not used for heating and cooling in a tank that is then used, as a preheating device for domestic hot water needs.
Self-learning thermostats designed and manufactured by Nest control the geothermal HVAC system. The thermostats incorporate motion, temperature and humidity sensors, which “learn” the schedule of the homes occupants. With preset desired temperatures, the thermostat adjusts itself to save energy and maximize the efficiency of the system. Heating and cooling loads of a home can be more than 50% of its energy consumption, the Nest thermostat and the geothermal HVAC system together reduce this percentage dramatically.
The window and door glass referred to as Guardian SuperNeutral is double paned, argon filled and coated to prevent the penetration of fabric fading ultraviolet light. This system provides one of the two significant layers of insulation to the building. The second layer is in the roof insulation, where most of a home’s heating and cooling energy escapes. The insulation chosen for this home is closed cell foam insulation, frequently referred to as Icynene. The insulation is sprayed between and over the exposed surfaces of the rafters, providing a system that is not subject to thermally bridging. This is an exceptionally tight and effective means of insulating a home.
The lower level spaces of the home, which are children’s bedrooms and a guest bedroom, are bermed into the hillside. The dirt provides a thermal mass that insulates the rooms passively using less energy to heat and cool.
A very thoughtful, holistic philosophy was developed in the design of this building. The notion was to employ a combination of both passive and active energy devices to heat, cool and light this home. Fine custom cabinetry by Contemporary Kitchens A very thoughtful, holistic philosophy was developed in the design of this building. The notion was to employ a combination of both passive and active energy devices to heat, cool and light this home. The appliances selected were Energy Star. The floors are bamboo—a rapid renewable resource due to how fast bamboo grows— the paint is low VOC, and the plumbing fixtures are low water consumption type. All of the materials inside and out were selected for their beauty, and their sustainability. The roofs have an ideal pitch to facilitate the addition of photo voltaic cells that could be added to further reduce the buildings energy consumption.
— Graylend and Krystal Horn own Northern Neck ACE Hardware in Kilmarnock, Va. Graylend, 33, also is an owner of National IT Crew and was the original owner and creator of Kaballero Internet company which he started at the age of twenty one. Krystal, 25, is the postmaster in White Stone, Va. Special thanks to Randall Kipp and Graylend Horn in the production of this article. Excerpt compliments of The Richmond News Leader, Wednesday August 20, 1975 archive paper “Carefree House on the Water” written by Carolyn Welton.