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Big Wood Residence - de Reus Architects

Local ranch vernacular and a minimalist concept drove the design of the Big Wood Residence, situated just south of Sun Valley, Idaho. This personal home for Mark de Reus and his family was designed for living along the river in this mountain valley setting. Minimalism, even a humbleness drove the design to reach a clarity of what he and his wife wanted to accomplish. Significantly, the design has a simplicity that belies its complexity.

The home consists of the simple shapes of two practical building forms: a two-story agricultural barn form for the living areas, and an engaged flat-roofed structure for the garage, storage, and terrace. Its two floors contain 3,665 square feet of space: living room, kitchen, and master suite on the ground floor, and recreation room and two bedrooms on the second. An all-glass entry vestibule is designed to appear like a warm welcoming lantern on a dark night. Two story windows on the east wall let in morning light to the interior of the main gathering area, and a broad window on the western wall offers panoramic views of the aspen forest toward the Big Wood River at the rear of the lot.

To harmonize and complement the aspen forest setting that dominates the 7-acre site, de Reus chose dark colors for the building’s exterior: black-stained Douglas Fir wood siding, graphite gray standing seam metal roof, black aluminum-clad windows, and black metal garage doors. The interior atmosphere is one of a modern cabin: with the use of rustic oak flooring, vertically applied white pine with a light finish that shows the grain but protects the wood from ultraviolet light. A blackened steel fireplace commands the living room, and a granite stone that compliments the local granite.

Some of Big Wood Residence’s details came as special requests from his family. De Reus’s wife wanted a barn door, which he included in the powder room and garage, and his daughter asked for a window seat in her bedroom. Other details were developed to support the modern cabin within a modern barn architecture and the mountain setting. Some of Mark’s favorite details include the Alison Berger cast-glass dining light pendant which speaks to the site’s history as a place where block ice was cut from the natural springs for the Sun Valley lodge; the Peter Zumthor designed light pendants over the kitchen island; the use of blackened and rusted steel alongside natural granite; One prominent detail—a steel shelf projecting from the fireplace mantel—was designed for a sculpture of Balinese Singa that de Reus acquired when he lived in Indonesia.


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