House of Rock

Natural elements define a new build down to the details

House of Rock

Photo: Laura Hull Photography

Corinne Brown of Brown Design Group had designed several vacation homes for her client before tackling this monumental one. Built upon rocky shores in McCall, Idaho, it took five years to complete — one year alone spent strategically dynamiting the bedrock so certain formations could be preserved and incorporated into the interiors. Brown says the project was “as challenging as it was a gift.”

Materials found on the exterior – steel, teak, concrete and stone – are echoed inside. Photo: Laura Hull Photography

She collaborated with a team that included the architect, builder and many best-in-town contractors. Because of her history with the client, Brown was the trusted conduit; they spent hours sifting through Houzz to build a visual vocabulary for the house.

Brown loved the petrified wood slice because of all the tones and colors that tie in with the various wood species and finishes used throughout the house. Photo: Laura Hull Photography

As for the art, Brown relied on natural elements, with color and texture coming from a variety of wood species, stone, metal, and the framed views of the surroundings. For Brown, specifying artwork like photos and paintings felt superfluous, even wrong. “I like that everything inside is like a piece of nature found outside,” she says. “Putting a photograph or landscape on the wall would be redundant and dilute the power of the view.”

Brown believes in mixing wood finishes and metal because a variety of tones exist in nature. “Nature is not rigid; everything doesn’t match,” she says. Photo: Laura Hull Photography

Holly Hunt dining chairs surround a 2”-thick slag glass-top table from Allan Knight that Brown says seems to flow into the lake. Photo: Laura Hull Photography

Keeping it pure, however, was no simple task. There were pieces of petrified wood – one of which weighed 940 pounds – that required a forklift to bring on site, plus scaffolding and a special hanging mechanism. Additionally, the walls had to be prepared for the weight.

I-beams, used throughout, are both a structural necessity as well as a design element. Photo: Laura Hull Photography

Cork bark on the dropped soffit over the piano helps manage acoustics. Photo: Laura Hull Photography.

Brown did commission one man-made piece, a felted wool artwork by Andrea Graham, that resembles a riverbed (above). Positioned opposite the Steinway, the material, along with the rug and dropped soffit, play an important acoustic role in dampening sound. As for the aesthetic, Brown says, “It feels like it flows from the view out the adjacent window.”

Many of the details, such as the style of the doors, the wood paneling on the walls, the stair railing, the base detail, were decided through the course of the project and figured out on site with the team. Brown loved that process. Photo: Laura Hull Photography

Photo: Laura Hull Photography

This story first appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Designers Today. 


Jane Dagmi is Editor in Chief of Designers Today.