Meet 2015 New England Design Hall of Fame Inductee Douglas VanderHorn
November 4, 2015
Text by Erin Marvin
Even after more than twenty-eight years and 120 projects, architect Douglas VanderHorn’s work doesn’t have a signature “look.” Quite the opposite: “My designs are a collaboration between me and the client, and what the client is looking for in combination with the context,” says VanderHorn. “These are the things that influence my design direction.”
Collaborations with his clients have led him to create residences in a range of traditional styles—Classic Georgian, Normandy, French Country, English Tudor, Colonial Revival, and more—all perfectly suited to the context of their environment. And though he primarily works in southern Connecticut and Westchester County, New York, with the occasional foray into other states and abroad, VanderHorn’s diverse portfolio is a true testament to his customized design approach.
His clients may appreciate the traditional aesthetic, but VanderHorn knows they also need a home that functions for modern-day life. Behind his classic facades, he incorporates the latest energy-saving features such as spray-foam insulation, geothermal heating and cooling systems, smart house technology, and LED lighting. His attention to detail also extends to the home’s interior millwork, which his firm undertakes with a close eye on both the individual style of the house and any necessary customizations to better reflect contemporary life.
It is perhaps his trade background that informs VanderHorn’s holistic approach to design/build: as a young man, he worked various construction jobs—blocking, framing, roofing, siding, and cabinetry—that, coupled with a love of creating art and sculpture, led him to his chosen field. His work today sits at this intersection of art and craft, and has been recognized by a long list of awards and publications dating back more than a decade.
“People just find a comfort in some of these older styles, and they carry a level of importance in people’s minds that makes them comfortable when investing such a large amount of time and money in a project,” says VanderHorn. “I think with that comfort is a level of security in which they feel like someone after them will still have an appreciation for the home.”
We have no doubt that clients and colleagues alike will continue to appreciate VanderHorn’s work for years to come.