Click on any photo for a larger gallery view.
INSIDE OUT (click photo for larger view)
The buildings are sheathed in wood vertical boarding stained dark gray, "to match the tree trunks," says Kroeger, and are topped with pewter-colored standing-seam metal roofs. "There are no exotic materials. It's all painted gypsum board and wood timber construction, and basically everything is one color," says the architect who used the same gray hue on the inside walls.
Kroeger says he likes to think of it as a two-room house. "There's a kitchen and dining section, and there's the everything room that functions as a music room, library and family gathering place." A separate free-standing building that includes an exercise room, Kroeger's home office and a photography studio for his wife does double duty as a place for large happenings. "We move the furniture out and set up for big dinner parties in there," he says. In contrast to the main house, the interior of the commodious 40-foot long space is painted white. "So many different things happen here I decided to make an exception to the color rule," he adds.
Like the architecture, the furnishings are simple and clean-lined and almost exclusively designed by Kroeger. He crafted the family room sofa and chairs, and the dining room chairs for his parent's home in the 1960s; the plywood platform bed in the master bedroom, fashioned for this house, is painted to match the predominant palette. Throughout, white ash floors help lighten the dark walls. "It's the same material they use for baseball bats," he says.
Outside, layers of green in the form of trees, native grasses and ivy, as well as the seasonal color changes visible through the oversized fenestration, help temper the monochromatic gray. The window of the "everything room" frames up views toward the meadow where a tranquil blend of native grasses meets that imposing stand of white pines, oaks and maples. Come spring the studio vista includes a neat row of ten crab apple trees brimming with blossoms, and year-round the stucco wall and covered loggia that flank the swimming pool drip with a blend of ivies—238th Street and English evergreens and deciduous Boston, which blazes red, yellow and orange in the fall.
"Architecture is about making spaces both inside and out," says Kroeger. "And this house emphasizes its juxtaposition with the natural countryside."