SOLD! A 1977 Modern House in the Woods by Richard Marker
Mention the 1970s and people are likely to respond in so many different ways. Now that the history of inflation and political scandal has faded, what people are most likely to remember are things such as the age of the couch potato, Star Wars and, of course, Dicso. What most people are NOT likely to mention, however, is architecture.
As we moved through the ’70s, modernism started to fall out of favor in the U.S., and you’ll get as many thoughts on why that might have been the case as you would fond memories of ’70s pop culture.
But I have a soft spot for ’70s architecture, because the best of it has its own flavor that sits nicely between the classic lines of what most of us picture when we think of MCM architecture, and the stark, sometimes whimsical nature and sometimes just wackiness of post-modernism.
One such house is at 6402 Arrowhead Court in Indian Head Park. Built in 1977 – the same year we all became obsessed with Star Wars – the home is set on a beautiful lot full of mature trees at the end of a cul-de-sac.
Rising up on its sloping lot, clad in angled cedar and greeting visitors with a large, round, smoked bubble window on the front, the home looks like it truly belongs in a forest as it blends in with the colors of the natural elements.
For the past 20 years or so, the home has been owned by Mary & Steve, who had been searching for the perfect home.
“We casually looked for a home for a couple of years,” says Mary, “but we weren’t finding what we wanted, which was a wooded lot and a great house. We weren’t specifically looking for a modern home, but it was clear as we looked that something contemporary was what we wanted.”
It doesn’t take long to realize that Marker, who’s retired now, designed the house specifically to suit its lot. The interesting angles of the home’s plan were created to offer great views of the surrounding terrain and nature, while giving the home privacy. Only the bubble window faces the street, with a bank of large glass units around the corner facing generally northeast and filling the home’s two-story, loft-style foyer with light.
“We first looked at the house on a Friday in February, in the early evening,” says Steve. “Everything was wintery, but the ground covers were visible. We were intrigued by the front windows and the architectural garage door.”
The door Steve mentions is framed in simple lines and clad with the same diagonal cedar as the rest of the house, so as to blend in.
“When we entered the house, we had our first ‘Wow!’ moment,” continues Mary. “As we made our way through the home, we both felt really comfortable and thought the floor plan was genius. We both fell in love with all of the windows – the house has 11 sets of sliders, 6 skylights, 2 bubble windows and additional architectural windows. We were especially drawn to the kitchen and the window that runs the length of the countertop.”
The windows in the kitchen are particularly interesting, with a pair of long, narrow windows between the countertop and the upper cabinets taking the place of a traditional backsplash, and a large triangular window above the upper cabinets that soars upward along with the ceiling in that space.
The home is designed mostly as a 2-story home with a walkout basement (a bonus afforded by the topography of the over 1/2-acre lot), with an additional mid-level comprising the Primary Suite, the laundry and the garage.
The sides of the home that mostly face the street and driveway are very private, while the sides that face into the yard are loaded with large windows to offer plenty of natural light and views of nature.
“In our time here, we’ve had birds and squirrels perch right on the edge of those kitchen windows,” says Mary, “and we’ve watched our beloved deer and their fawns, red foxes, Baltimore orioles and hummingbirds in droves. The bubble window in the main floor bedroom / office is amazing! The birds and squirrels are very interest in what’s going on inside and we spend hours together. Our resident red tail hawk even stops by once in a while.”
The amount of space that Marker was able to get into what is actually a relatively compact floor plan is amazing, with 5 bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms, plus numerous public / living spaces.
Upon entering the home through a custom wood-clad double front door, you’re in the two-story foyer which is open above to the 2nd floor loft landing. Head to the left, and you’ll find yourself in that bedroom / office with the bubble window that Mary mentioned. Or go to the right and you’ll head into the open combination Living Room / Dining Room, with three sets of sliding doors offering views out past a deck into the trees beyond.
Around the corner you’ll walk past the pantry into the Kitchen, which is combined with the Family Room and has soaring plank and beam ceilings that peak above a modern feature staircase.
Here’s where you’ll see those kitchen windows above and below the cabinets, more sliders that lead to an elevated deck, and the Family Room fireplace and built-ins.
Mary & Steve have a dinette table & chairs in the Kitchen, which still has its original cabinets and counters that follow the angles of the home’s design.
Walk past the three-level staircase and you’re back at that 5th bedroom, which Mary uses as her office. In addition to that fantastic bubble window, it has a set of sliders that lead out to the wraparound deck. And with a full bath right around the corner, next the staircase, this would make for a perfect in-law room, guest room or nanny’s room.
Back at the other side of the house, a half-flight of steps lead up to the mid-level, where you’ll find the Primary Suite, which, being on its own level, is very secluded and private…something Steve and Mary appreciate about the house.
“On a low energy day our bedroom is the perfect hideaway,” says Mary. “It’s the perfect place for a nap.”
The Primary Suite has a clever floor plan that includes the main sleeping area, plus a smaller area with its own bubble window looking out the back, and a set of sliders leading to steps down to the wrapround deck. A set of double-double closets with large windows is off to one side, and a bright, open en-suite bathroom with the tub, shower and water closet areas hidden around corners or behind privacy walls sits underneath a skylight, and has sliders that lead to a cozy paver patio.
Upstairs, on the 2nd floor, you’ll find three more bedrooms and another full bath, with one of the bedrooms featuring a small, private balcony overlooking the trees outside, and a massive skylight. Two more skylights in the 2nd floor loft landing add to the natural light from the large northeast-facing windows there, and wood plank ceilings grace all of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor.
Throughout the house you’ll notice that clean lines of the reveal between the walls and the ceilings – a signature Richard Marker detail.
Again taking advantage of the lot’s topography, Marker was able to work in very livable and usable basement spaces, too, by making it a walkout. At the bottom of the stairs at the lowest level, you’ll find yourself in a rustic-feeling game room / bar area with its own fireplace, sliders out to another paver patio, and a small office or storage room around the corner, and the home’s 4th full bath, featuring a large whirlpool tub and a steam shower.
Around the corner from the game room is a second family room, which would be a perfect place for a kids playroom or even a home theater, workout room or more.
There’s additional storage on this level in several places, as well.
“We love the feeling of being on vacation every day,” says Steve, when asked what they love most about the home. “The floor plan that makes living here really easy and comfortable. And no one can see into the house! It’s calm, comfortable and inviting.”
“It’s the open space,” adds Mary. “Observing the seasonal changes like never before. Sitting in the Living Room as snow falls, watching the redbuds burst and the wildflowers take over in spring, enjoying the lush green of summer and viewing the sunbursts of yellow and orange in the fall. Or relaxing on the deck with birds chirping and a blue sky dappled by the huge oak environment. It’s the perfect combination of an open floor plan with intimate spaces, flexible rooms and views out of every exterior wall.”
And while some people outside of the western suburbs may not be familiar with Indian Head Park, it’s in a fantastic location.
“That’s one of our favorite things about this area,” says Steve. “We’re minutes from both airports, the city and lots of shopping and dining options. Yet it’s like we’re in our own little secluded world here. We’re on the largest lot in our subdivision.”
When I ask Mary about her favorite place in the home to spend time, she answers without missing a beat. “For me it’s the kitchen,” she says. “I can be ‘outside’ while I pursue my favorite hobby of cooking – and my least favorite of cleaning up,” she says with a chuckle.
She pauses for a second and then thinks back again to when they first saw the home before they bought it. “When we left the house after that first day that we saw it, we sat at dinner and said to each other ‘What do you think?’ We both answered ‘It’s the house of my dreams.'”
6402 Arrowhead Court is now available for purchase for the first time in over 20 years. If you’d like to tour this beautiful home, have your agent contact me or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
[UPDATE: This home sold on December 30th, 2020]
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