A boxy, rectangular house built of stucco and clapboard sits at the end of a sloping driveway. Nestled in a hillside and surrounded by woods, the home's facade — white, except for the lime green door — is like a blank screen, where branches of the tall trees move light and shadow across it.

A flat roof and a horizontal line of narrow windows directly below the roof mark the Lutherville home as decidedly midcentury modern — exactly what architects Peter and Laurie Stubb were looking for when they purchased it 14 years ago.


"The house was built on enduring principles of design, ones we would call sustainable practices today," said Laurie Stubb, 50, principal of a Brooklandville firm called place architecture: design. "It was oriented to make best use of the sun and views and employed day-lighting strategies, filling the house with natural light throughout the day."

Her point is proved with one step into the two-level home. Its interior, 55 feet wide and 28 feet deep, is a study in light and contrasts.

To begin (and impossible to overlook), the home's entire back, north-facing side is a series of windows and doors overlooking a wall of trees and a 5-by-45-foot balcony. As light floods the home, the windows provide an ever-changing seasonal landscape.

The open living area is oriented to the wall of windows. Stark white walls are canvases for brightly colored artwork, and blond wood furniture stands out on floors stained a dark oak. An interplay of lines and circles add interest throughout the four-bedroom home that was built in 1960.

"Generally, our furniture is an eclectic mix of classic modern elements and midcentury pieces, blended with pieces from relevant designers working today," said Peter Stubb, 52, design director and principal with Gensler, a collaborative design firm. "Some pieces are heirloom; others we've added over the years."

A 12-foot-long table made of white oak dominates the dining area. A large three-lamp chandelier made of white metal and wire is draped from the ceiling in matching white wire, an appropriate blend of sculptural and functional design. Windows stretch from floor to ceiling on the east wall.

The tasteful and uncluttered living room features furniture pieces close to the floor and includes an original black leather LC4 chaise longue by Le Corbusier, a pioneer of modern architecture. A signed 1969 Alexander Calder lithograph titled "Boules, Rouge et Jaune" (or "Balls, Red and Yellow") hangs on the wall over a low bookshelf-console.

The kitchen is in the front of the home and is separated from the living room and dining room by a partition-like wall that does not quite reach the ceiling, allowing the northern and eastern light to spill in. Metal cabinets, original to the house, have been painted a custom blend of yellow green. The linear look of the white quartz countertops and center island is tempered with backsplash tile of black and white oyster cracker shapes. A round, white dining table and chairs look out over a hedge of tall bamboo. There is a definite feel here, as well as throughout the living space, that the home is one with nature — as through inside and outside are interchangeable.

"We enjoy the connection to nature and try to capture that through color references," Peter Stubb said. "Green is a very present color through the year, and those greens are constantly changing through the seasons. The colors we use vary to capture bits of those greens in each room. During winter months, when the greens are less evident, the paint accents provide a glimmer of a more verdant time."

A major project of which Laurie Stubb is particularly proud is the design for the hall bathroom. An accent wall was created, separating the shower and the toilet. Her choice of tile for the wall was half-inch circles of Calcutta marble sealed with a clear, rubbed-on finish to protect the otherwise porous material. The overall effect is of being surrounded in bubbles.

The bedrooms of the Stubbs' two teenage daughters, Emily and Abigail, are in the home's lower level and designed as a mirror view of each other.

Along with a full bath, the floor also has a family room that the Stubbs call their fun room. Exceedingly cheerful and bright, colorful furniture such as a green sectional sofa pop against the cement floors covered in epoxy for a high-glaze finish. An accent wall painted dark gray adds further contrast, while artwork by the Stubbs' daughters adds interest.

Neat and compact, the home embodies the philosophy of its owners.

"My design approach is defined through well-crafted, fresh yet timeless architecture," said Laurie Stubb. "What matters to me as a designer is the pursuit of an appropriateness of scale, place and materials in every project."


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Making the dream

Dream fulfilled: "We enjoy being here," said Laurie Stubb. "It's our retreat from busy lives. Not too big, not too small, its setting offers a quiet place to come together as a family and to share with friends."

Peter Stubb added: "This house provides much of what we might consider designing for ourselves: simplicity of form and structure, clarity of layout, openness and flexibility, and an incredible connection to the outdoors. In a way, it's like being in a treehouse."

Dream design: "As an architect, my design philosophy is emulated in my own house. The principals of simplicity, function, sustainability and timeless design are evident," Laurie Stubb said.

Dream touches: "Crisp white paint is used throughout and highlights the clean rectilinear lines of the house," Peter Stubb said. "That brightness amplifies the interplay of light and shadow. Dark-stained oak floors provide contrast; white lacquer floors make other spaces glow."