Timber! A New Hampshire Timber-Frame Mountain House
December 13, 2022
A family’s bespoke timber-frame house draws them to New Hampshire every chance they get.
Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Nat Rea
It’s no wonder Kristen and Steve Remondi love everything about their New Hampshire house. They had nearly two decades to dream about it, years during which they and their three boys spent as many weekends as they could at their condo at Bretton Woods.
Kristen, an interior designer based in Winchester, Massachusetts, knew she wanted a timber-frame house. “Steve’s younger brother has a timber-frame home at Attitash, and I can’t even describe how much I love that house,” she says. “We’d go there, and I’d think, ‘Someday I want to do this.’ ”
It all began to fall into place when Steve surprised Kristen for Christmas with a photo of a lot he’d bought. “It’s such a special lot,” Kristen says about the half-acre parcel. “It has a view of Mount Washington, and there’s nothing behind us but miles of trails for snowshoeing.”
Builder Charles Allen pulled together a dream team with architect Michael Coyne and timber-frame specialists Zach Hewson and Josh Rawlings. Initially, Allen says, the couple thought they would use a timber-frame kit. “I recommended they do something original,” he says. “In the end, it’s yours; no one else has it.” Kristen and Steve, who had a clear vision for their home, rounded out the team.
On the exterior, the structure nods to the mountain ski house genre with its combination of pre-stained wood shingles and hemlock clapboard. While the front facade is a quiet presence with a modern farmhouse sensibility, the back, says Kristen, “is kind of a party,” with multiple roof peaks, a handful of decks for enjoying the outdoors in warm weather, and bronze-framed windows galore to take in the mountain views.
The exposed timber-frame interior is both a massive work of art and a small miracle. “They are the most amazing artisans,” Kristen says of Hewson and Rawlings. “They arrive with a huge crane, and they put it all together like Lincoln Logs.”
The Douglas fir frame, held together with sturdy wooden pegs instead of nails, is both ethereal and solid. “I love how airy the timbers feel,” Kristen says. “They feel almost church-like to me.”
Timber-frame construction poses unique challenges. Window and door openings that fit nicely into the grid may suddenly look not quite right when the frame goes up. Lighting and mechanicals can be an issue, too, notes Coyne, because there’s no sheetrock to hide wiring. “It was one of the more challenging parts of the project, but when it was go-time, it all fell into place.”
Proportion—the thickness of beams, the placement of openings—is key, according to Hewson. “This is a 50,000-pound piece of furniture,” he says. “If proportions are incorrect, it can be off-putting and make you feel less secure.”
Kristen wisely let both the framing and the views be the standout features in the five-bedroom house. The neutral palette accented with blues and greens predominates, making the interior spaces feel nestled into nature.
The team sweated every detail, including the long process of developing the perfect stain for the timbers. In the end, of course, it was all worth it. “It’s such a gift to be able to design your own house,” Kristen says. “Unless we have a very good reason, we do not miss a weekend there.”
Architecture: Michael Coyne
Interior design: Remondi Designs
Builder: Construction Management and Estimate
Timber-frame construction: Steeplechase Custom Homes
Landscape design: Designed Gardens