In the daylight, the Pond House at Ten Oaks Farm is a sight to behold, a piece of modern art in architectural form, blending design and function in a way that is both unique and spectacular. With its façade of limestone textured stucco offset with opaque tongue and groove polycarbonate panels, exposed timber framing, and massive windows, the home is an artful blend of textures and finishes, almost a modernist homage to the prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright in the way it seems to rise seamlessly from the surrounding landscape.
But more than just its use of unique materials, the home’s shape is what gives it such allure. Three stories high, the structure sits over the edge of a pond, overlooking a peninsula of ten oak trees extending into the middle of the pond. Featuring an outdoor area on the first floor that includes a fireplace and outdoor kitchen, the second level comprises an open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining room with panoramic views of the magnificent location it claims. On the third floor, the master suite boasts an outdoor terrace. As a net-zero home, the structure is built to be eco-conscious, featuring a single-sloping roof that sheds rainwater into the pond, positioned to afford maximum sun exposure for the solar panels. Cantilevered at a 14-degree angle and south-facing towards the sun, the upper levels seem to almost float, and the roof sits perpendicular to the steel structure.
“What most people comment on when they see the Pond House is its uniqueness as a form and how it fits into the landscape,” says architect and owner Michael Holly of Holly & Smith Architects. Built in 2014, Holly describes its architectural style as Regional Modern— “Meaning, it is current and modern, and it fits with the place in which is resides.”
Boasting 1,234 interior square feet and 755 square feet of exterior space, the home is spacious yet modest, using its every inch in a way that makes it feel expansive—a feeling heightened by its full walls of floor-to-ceiling windows. Natural light spilling onto its spaces reveals the art within its interior: the maple floor planks from leftover material used for a high school gym floor, ceilings of recycled 3/8-inch cherry wood cut from thicker boards intended for another project.
A galley-style kitchen bucks the trend of massive open kitchen spaces while still managing to offer ample prep areas and storage. A long, linear island at the center is perfect for cooking and entertaining and features a Caesar Stone waterfall countertop. Custom cabinetry lies the lower back wall, with open storage above. Top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances add another element to the smooth sleekness of the stone countertops and the warmth of the pale wood cabinetry.
As the home’s sole bedroom, the master suite is modern minimalist but no less filled with architectural details. Overlooking an outdoor deck above the pond, the room has breathtaking views without—but also commands attention within. The ceiling form follows the roof slope, and the adjoining bathroom features a shower that is open to the rest of the space, with walls made of an opaque thermoplastic product that allows diffused light to flow into the space and over the 10-foot walls into the bedroom.
Clearly, creating a home that was completely unique was top of mind with the Pond House—and that uniqueness becomes even more apparent after dark. At night, the three-story structure becomes a glowing lantern, magically illuminating the water and offering a soft light to the landscape around it—a site chosen very thoughtfully. “We bought this property in 1994,” says Holly. “It was a former dairy farm pasture. We looked at it as a blank canvas and developed a master plan and then proceeded to implement it over time. All the trees, save a few live oaks and water oaks, were planted by us, and they have matured quite nicely. We do not spend a great deal of time doing manicuring—we would rather see in in a more natural state.”
Employing a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, solar energy, spray foam insulation, Energy Star equipment, and LED lighting throughout, the home achieves net-zero energy consumption. “It also features passive strategies to achieve a sustainable design through operable windows for cross-ventilation, north-south building orientation, natural daylighting, shading strategies, reclaimed materials, landscaping designed for solar and wind changes through the seasons and managing rainwater onsite,” says Holly. “Since its completion, the Pond House has been generating instead of consuming energy. Within the mission of creating a sustainable design, this residence is an example that proves that energy-efficient houses can be comfortable, luxurious places to live.”