When designing the relaxed weekend retreat on Maryland’s West River that looks as though it has been on site for centuries, Wouter Boer of Washington, D.C.-based Jones & Boer Architects turned to the past for inspiration.
Clients Richard and Amy Zantzinger wanted a traditional-style house that provided panoramic views and yet was modest in size.
“The project was a team effort,” Boer says, adding that he and the Zantzingers have worked together on many projects for various clients.
Boer studied farmhouses, many of which date to the 1700s, and created a 4,300-square-foot, Shaker-simple home that has two faces: a more formal one for the back side that looks out over the water and an agrarian one in the front that complements the farmland.
“The placement of the rooms, windows and doors needed to be consistent inside the house while maintaining the duality of the two very different elevations,” he says. “The design was all about symmetry versus asymmetry and playing the different facades off against each other, mediating them through the floor plans.”
The water side, where the owner pulls up his boat to the entrance, features a series of bi-fold doors and a porch that runs the width of the house. The farm side features fenestration that syncs with the living spaces. “The farm side is more abstract and in my mind more interesting,” Boer says.
The snow-white, wood-sided house, which presides over 60 acres, has a minimalist aesthetic that is inherent in its materials.
“To create architectural authenticity, we used standard products—bricks, wood siding, wood shingles, and wood windows—rather than elaborate custom items,” he says.
Creating a New-Old Farmhouse
The red brick of the foundation and off-center chimneys, which was sourced by the owner, comes from a vintage building in Baltimore. The wood siding, which is new, was treated to look as though it came from another century. “We created a detailed bead at the bottom of the profile to cast a shadow,” Boer says. Owner Richard Zantzinger, who is a contractor, laid the siding with slight imperfection, to convey a storied past. The project also included the refurbishment of a 1700s wood-frame and brick-foundation cottage that the Zantzingers acquired from their neighbors, for use as a guesthouse.
Inside, Boer created a floor plan designed to embrace the outdoors. He added simple architectural elements, including the plain plaster fireplace and stone surround in the living-room/dining-room space, the Shaker-style cabinets in the kitchen, and the elegantly spare staircase in the hall.
Amy Zantzinger, who is an interior designer, selected the furnishings, which include the wooden sailboat, Richard’s boyhood toy, on the living-room/dining-room mantel and the plain wooden farmhouse table where the family gathers for meals.
Boer says that aging the house was about subtracting—not adding—details. “The simple vocabulary inside and out takes advantage of all the land has to offer,” Boer says, adding that, to echo the past, the roof wasn’t even equipped with gutters.
“To strip stuff back and still achieve architecture is very fulfilling.”
architect Jones Boer Architects, Washington, DC
contractor Zantzinger, Washington, DC