Thursday, July 20, 2017  

Dreaming in Green


Photos courtesy of Chris Cunningham Photography and Kate Tressler

The Horn residence, nestled into a richly wooded lot on Taylors
Creek in Weems, Virginia is home to Graylend and Krystal Horn
and their now three children, Kinsley, 2, Kamden, 1, and the newest addition Kyler who was just born on January 21st. Graylend and Krystal, married in October of 2009, bought the home that same
year that had once belonged to Graylend’s paternal grandparents.

 A combination of hardwood and softwood  trees that fill the lot and a dramatic  topography provide for a wonderfully  pronounced setting. The lot itself is narrow  yet deliciously private by virtue of its  contour and the size of the mature trees.  The house, from the waterside, appears  to sit up high and proud compared to its  immediate neighbors. 

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 Equally important was to  transform all of its outdated systems: electrical,  mechanical and building envelope.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.