Structure with Soul

In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand explains a juxtaposition he sees between art and construction: “Art must be inherently radical, but buildings are inherently conservative. Art must experiment to do its job…convention becomes conventional because it works.”

TimberHomes buildings largely defy this statement. Building a timber frame today is a deeply conservative act–our structural designs follow conventions that have been tested by centuries of beating wind and heavy snow. But in Josh’s humble abode in particular, TimberHomes’ artistic, experimental nature shines. Art and convention coexist. Novel ways of bringing natural elements into the house create enchanting spaces within a structural framework that will endure.

Seeing Features in Flaws

Josh used timbers that were harvested from the homesite. Knots, wane, and other “defects” were all invited in. There are naturally curved cherry braces throughout.

The original home was the size of a small timber frame guest cabin, fitting most standards for tiny houses. An addition, framed in a Yestermorrow class taught by Josh, was added some years after the original house was built, making a modest home from tiny beginnings and allowing the house to grow with the family. Each corner and crevice was designed to be a useful space: an office tucked into a corner, storage space where headroom would have been tight, and the smallest half bathroom in town.

Design for Quality of Space over Quantity of Square Feet

One of the house’s most distinguishing features is a spiral staircase. The staircase combines dynamic beauty with a small spacial footprint. This design has inspired many of our clients, and the original staircase was featured on the cover of The Natural Building Companion.

Arriving at a functional design for small homes often involves leaving out the rarely-used spaces, like extra bedrooms. When guests visit Josh and his family at the humble abode, they’re pointed towards the brook, directed to cross the curving bridge, and find themselves in a cozy guest cabin among the treetops.