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Ashtree House

Ashtree House
Building Location 763 Ashtree Way
Boise, Idaho 83716
Warm Springs/East End Neighborhood
Ada County
Building Status Private
Year Built
Architectural Style contemporary / pueblo
Architect
Type
Material

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James and Karen Moore had been searching for a new house for a little over a year. One was enamored with contemporary architecture, while the other yearned for a pueblo style home. Houses they saw were too large for them, or just didn’t suit their desires. The solution to the problem of finding a home was to design their own. Computer software was used to design how the rooms would fit together, and then the couple sought the help of an engineer to design the exterior. House guidelines from the CC&R, the “covenants, conditions and restrictions”, that dictate how house can be constructed, were fairly lax, so the house was able to be created with few restrictions aside from staying within the plot line. One reason the house initially grabbed our attention was its drastic difference from the average craftsman suburbia with average landscaping surrounding it- it’s truly a unique and original example of architecture and was well worth being the focus of our project. Though some things would be done differently a second time, such as larger guest bedrooms and more kitchen space, the two are very happy with their house. The house, despite its mixed origins, has a definite leaning towards the contemporary style. The house is angular and instead of the solid character of many houses, its structure is more like blocks stacked on top of each other, instead of one imposing box. The use of natural lighting is also a feature of contemporary style houses, and large and well placed windows allow the house to be lit this way. The finest example of this is the front entryway. Windows along the wall of the second story provide lighting in addition to the long window above the door. This creates a feeling of openness and warmth in the house. The windows themselves are contemporary. They lack the fancy crowning of traditional homes, and their sleek design is indicative of a modern home. Contemporary style homes are known for blending into surrounding landscapes, and the house does that well. The stucco’s color blends with the natural earth tones of the surrounding foothills, and the landscaping leads naturally towards the house, instead of being an unnaturally green, symmetrical, boring lawn. The flat roof, also, contributes to the contemporary appearance of the home, eschewing the traditional sloped rooftops, and simultaneously to the pueblo appearance. Pueblo influences are primarily accents to the contemporary design, but still contribute to the overall impression of the house. The paint is the most obvious contribution. Stucco is something integral to the pueblo style, while the earthy color is reminiscent of traditional building materials. The round wall around the front yard features the curves common in pueblo style architecture, contrasting well with the over all angular, contemporary design. Some interior features, such as the fireplace, a slanting affair reminiscent of traditional pueblo stoves, and stair case (which the builders cautioned against on the grounds that the bars in an otherwise plain block of staircase would be too similar to prison bars. The builders were wrong) were based on pueblo homes featured in magazines and create a pueblo impression of the home’s interior design. The décor adds to this effect. Items such as the rug in the living room, a sofa upstairs, some wall hanging, and the upholstery on the dining chairs bear southwestern-style patterns. Additional exterior accents contribute as well. The pergola adds a welcoming southwestern touch at the entrance in addition to blending into the shape of the house, and had the posts on the back patio been a darker wood, as originally envisioned, they would also have leant to a pueblo appearance. As is, Karen feels that it detracts from the intended appearance and doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the house. The best part is the front door- an intricate pattern is carved into its dark wood, similar to a Hopi symbol. The design and location of the house is reflective of the family’s love of the outdoors. The house was the first built in a region of the foothills that was going to be developed. The couple chose the company of neighbors in addition to the location’s easy access to trails. The design itself is indicative of their outdoorsy nature. The patios in both the front and back yard draw attention outwards, and are inviting enough to create a space to relax outdoors. The back patio has hummingbird feeders, inviting nature onto the lot and creating a spectacle to enjoy outside (it also faces a pasture where neighbors keep their horses, likely creating more of an invitation outdoors). The front yard incorporates several varieties of desert plants and the grass requires little care, going dormant in the summer when faced with heat, saving water and contributing to the authenticity of the landscape.

Building submitted by Betsy Ellsworth and Emma Faulkner

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