McDavid Retreat
A professional couple, nearing retirement, wanted to build a second home on land they owned in Madison County. The house was to serve as a retreat from the rigors of daily life; a comfortable place, designed in the vernacular tradition, where they would spend time with their children, grandchildren, and friends.

A small break in the treeline overlooking a gently rolling meadow along the main road provided a beautiful location for this small house.

The house design was based on the "dogtrot” plan, a traditional southern house design in which a central breezeway connects two, flanking rooms under one roof. A simple gable roof covers the house and a generous porch runs the length of its north side, facing the meadow. The central dogtrot, which serves as the entrance, holds a foyer, stair and dining area and is enclosed with operable glass window walls and doors at each end.

The rough, cedar siding cladding the house’s exterior walls extends through the dogtrot. The glass walls maintain a visual opening through the house and allow breezes to circulate through its interior, thus rendering in modern materials the chief characteristics of the traditional dogtrot design. Living quarters (bedrooms, bathrooms, a study and kitchen) occupy the house’s east side while a great room occupies all of the space west of the dogtrot. The central stair leads to a play loft suspended above the dogtrot and a sleeping loft located above the living quarters. As the house’s chief living space, the great room is open and generous. The vaulted ceiling extends over the great room from the dogtrot and a large brick fireplace centers the room’s south wall. Warm, natural finished wood floors, walls, and trim help create a simple, intimate interior throughout the house.


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