It all started with a brick wall. The idea of an eight-foot tall brick wall that began as an exterior architectural element and continued inside the house was architect Toby Witte’s impetus in the design of his personal home in Concord. The wall became a central element around which all rooms were clustered and connected.
“I like the idea of blurring the line between the inside and outside and appreciate the texture of masonry and the richness it brings to the interior,” Witte says, who designed and built the home for his family of five. “The wall is a long element, which is stylized as a single architectural feature so the indoor spaces can be arranged around it. It is an organizer of spaces on the first level.”
Outside, the brick wall draws visitors to the entrance; inside on the first level, it serves as the cohesive component from which the open kitchen, living room, and master suite wrap around in a studio-apartment type arrangement. Another vertical foot of painted drywall placed above the brick wall helps the open layout seem even more spacious by allowing nine-foot ceilings. The exposed brick warms up the modern architecture and infuses it with texture, especially in the master bathroom, which is mainly stark white and brushed nickel.
“Good architecture uses individual elements working together to make a statement in each room,” Witte says about the mixture of masonry, reclaimed wooden beams, metal, and polished concrete throughout the home.
The kitchen’s gray-tinged wooden cabinets are designed to appear like furniture since the room is open to the other living spaces downstairs. Custom touches such as a range hood and dishwasher hidden behind cabinetry doors help maintain the look of simplicity. A long, narrow horizontal window above the sink lets in light but maintains privacy on this street-facing part of the house. A stainless steel unit of drawers surrounds the matching refrigerator and stove, lending a built-in air to the whole affair and echoing stainless steel touches on the sinks and cabinetry hardware.
Large sliding frosted glass panels open up or close off the master suite depending upon the level of privacy needed and the time of day. The remainder of the living spaces on the first floor are open to each other, with eight-foot tall floor-to-ceiling windows that draw in the spacious and woodsy outside views to the inside rooms. This overall feeling of spaciousness enables the Witte family to enjoy the feel of a large, four-bedroom home in only 1,710 square feet.
In a footprint this compact and open, storage is of prominent concern. Witte addressed the need for his family with creativity. The first two risers on the stairs are open, for example, leaving a nook for shoes. Other disappearing compartments on the side walls of the staircase house more shoes, coats, and board games. Integrated wardrobes on both levels are colorful, stylish, and a form of storage heaven. A tucked-in bench between the entranceway and kitchen is outfitted with storage bins underneath it.
Follow the brick wall up the staircase to the second level where Witte designed three geometric structures housing his daughters’ three bedrooms to pinwheel out from each other. This configuration enables each bedroom to have windows on three sides and provides close proximity of the siblings to each other’s spaces.
Although the look is decidedly modernist, Witte says he did not set out to design a modern home. “I simply chose the colors and materials that make the spaces feel a certain way,” he says.
“I thought about outcomes and wanted the freedom to design a small, yet spacious space. It feels like we have always lived here.”