Andrew Volansky of Volansky Studio and Brothers Building Company design and build a breathtaking property in Vermont’s Mad River Valley
STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER PHOTOGRAPHY LINDSAY RAYMONDJACK, COURTESY VOLANSKY STUDIO
In the heart of the Mad River Valley, a winsome hillside property exudes modern sophistication. Standing on 8.2 pristine acres, this five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom, 3,000 sq ft. home was designed by Andrew Volansky, owner and founder of renowned, Stowe-based architectural firm, Volansky Studios. It features meticulously-crafted interior spaces, such as a striking formal entry and living/kitchen/dining room connected by a sturdy steel moment frame. An open staircase leads downstairs to a tastefully-integrated family room and bar area, as well as a mudroom with custom built-in cabinets. The mudroom leads to a ski-in, ski-out entrance on the walk out level, which is connected to ski trails that lead to a nearby, world-class resort. An outdoor balcony, patio, and fire pit, make this glorious home perfect for idyllic recreation in all seasons.
Working collaboratively with the Central Vermont-based Brothers Building Company and Artisan Engineering, Volansky designed a gorgeous home that is in-line with Volansky Studios’ overarching philosophy of “Vermont Mountain Modern.” Volansky and Brothers Building Company made use of natural, local materials whenever possible, prioritizing structural integrity and seamlessly blending modern aesthetics with functional utility. This approach ensured that the owners of this home can enjoy all of the comforts of a contemporary lifestyle while remaining closely connected to the lush, awe-inspiring Vermont mountain landscape.
Building the Dream
The home took shape over the course of a two-year build, which commenced in Fall 2021 and ended in Fall 2023. What started as an undeveloped lot near a beloved Vermont ski resort blossomed into a luxurious, modern home under the stewardship of Andrew Volansky, Brothers Building, and several other dedicated local subcontractors. Aided by the site development team at Loomis Property Services, the design team strategically marked, flagged, and removed trees in line with local homeowner association and local zoning regulations. Their efforts were rewarded with promising views, which influenced the vision for the project.
In Fall 2021, construction kicked off with the initial excavation phase. Embracing the site’s steep topography, strategic planning and selective rock blasting and chipping were executed to harmoniously embed the property into the hillside. “Due to the steepness of the site, creating
outdoor spaces was challenging,” notes Volansky. Luckily, necessity breeds invention, and this challenge unlocked an opportunity to maximize spatial efficiency through the construction of a second-story balcony. While maintaining a lowered building height relative to the terrain, this design also provided a captivating outdoor space for the owners. Volansky elaborates: “One of the biggest challenges of the build also ended up providing the inspiration for the design. We chose to allow the home to harmonize with the site, rather than alter the site to accommodate the building by allowing the lower level to slide forward.”
A Tour Through the Home
Walking through the front door of the home from the driveway, a two-car garage stands to the left of the formal entry. Upon entering, one is faced with custom-painted cabinetry. An elegant, open staircase leads down from the formal entry to the walk out level. The entry connects to an open floor plan that includes the kitchen, living room, and dining room, where exposed steel and expansive glass panes take center stage. These pivotal elements firmly root the dwelling in the Vermont Mountain Modern design ethos of aesthetic functionality. An exposed steel structural moment frame runs above the space joining the kitchen and living room, gracefully embodying the home’s modern beauty. Volansky explains that moment frames are assemblages of interconnected beams and columns, which reinforce structural integrity. “They ensure stability when structures are subjected to external forces, such as wind and potential seismic activity,” he adds.
The moment frame’s various steel elements, including joists, beams and columns, connect the dining area, kitchen, and living room with the formal entry. Instead of concealing the steel within the walls, a conscious decision was made to expose it, integrating it into the interior décor of the home. In the living room, a hearth crafted from a substantial slab of locally-sourced, natural wood connects to a robust, waxed steel gas fireplace surrounded with flanking, rectangular glass windows. “It took six people to handle and install,” says Ron Graves of Brothers Building Company. “The steel pieces are intricately bent around the corners to minimize seams and edges.” The living room is furnished by the owners with a mixture of modern and rustic pieces that reflect the ambience of the home, including a console made of steel and petrified wood.
The extensive utilization of glass, such as the large windows that connect the living room to the balcony, choreographs a visual and physical narrative that binds the indoor and outdoor spaces into a singular, cohesive entity. Every glance outward offers a glimpse of serene, bucolic majesty, infusing the dwelling with a perennial connection to its remarkable Vermont surroundings.
Throughout the home, elegant light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and tiles (provided through a collaboration between Volansky Studio and Embellish Designs) create a cultured, contemporary décor scheme. The well-appointed kitchen is outfitted with a kitchen island, custom marble backsplashes from Burlington Marble and Granite, and a seamlessly-integrated wall oven that aligns perfectly with the overarching aesthetic of the room.
A hallway in the back corner of the kitchen leads to several guest bedrooms, a powder room, and the master bedroom and bathroom. “We used minimalist design for the bedrooms and bathrooms throughout the home,” says Volansky. “The clients wanted to emphasize the allure of the public, shared spaces.” Strategically-positioned windows in the bedrooms and bathrooms allow natural light to proliferate through the rooms. Custom-fabricated vanity and wall features throughout the bathrooms, such as wall-hung concrete countertops, were designed with simplicity and ease of cleaning in mind.
A practical (and attractive) open staircase leads down to the lower floor from the formal entry. Built with a soft curve and segmented glass railing system, the staircase’s design facilitates connectivity between the spaces. “The downstairs area serves as a place where the children can play together while the adults congregate upstairs,” says Volansky. “We wanted there to be a natural separation between the two spaces so that they could harmoniously coexist while still maintaining an audible link.”
At the bottom of the staircase, a family room with a bar alcove and well-stocked beverage refrigerator serves as a perfect place to watch family movies, play games, and build puzzles. A laundry room in the corner of the family room is separated by a soft-close, rolling barn door. Several bedrooms are connected to the family room by opposing hallways, including a guestroom/office with a custom-fabricated murphy bed, and a “bunk room” that is perfect for family vacations. A glass doorway in the center of the family room leads to an outdoor patio, hot tub, and fire pit.”
Directly adjacent to the family room, a mudroom with custom built-in closets and a bench leads to the ski-in, ski-out entrance. The mudroom was designed in a manner that thoughtfully addressed the family’s unique needs. Volansky elaborates: “Considering the activities and storage requirements associated with the home and its ski-in, ski-out entrance, it was important to separate the mudroom from the family room.” To that end, Volansky elevated the mudroom slightly, placing it a few steps up from the family room. This subtle demarcation of space works wonders in managing the multiple functions of the home. The mudroom is also equipped with a boot drying system, and has ample storage space for ski gear, as well. “The mudroom is a space where people can unpack, relax, and transition from the frosty outdoors to the cozy indoors at the end of a long and fulfilling day of skiing,” says Volansky. This mindful setup greatly enhances the overall experience of active skiers, while maintaining cleanliness and order in the main entrance and upper living quarters. Visitors can enjoy winter sports escapades without compromising the immaculate, tranquil ambience of their modern mountain retreat, ensuring that treasured memories can be made during every Vermont ski season for years to come.
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