2021 RDAA | Custom Rural or Vacation House | Ledge House | Desai Chia Architecture

Designing a house between a rock and a hard place (in this case a cliff) is no easy matter. Previous construction had bowed to the glacial erratic, forming a U around the immovable object. When Desai Chia’s clients approached the firm to build anew, the architects decided to embrace the boulder as part of the experience of the house. 

“We thought of it like a sentinel on the site—a stalwart piece that’s claimed its domain,” says Katherine Chia. “We decided the house will be its companion. It was a quirky relationship, but it could be quite fun.” Ultimately, the new house comes within nearly 6 inches of the rock, gazing at it like a feature in a sculpture garden. “We think it’s a very interesting tension.”

More practically, pushing the house back against the mossy upland forest allowed the firm to fit the open plan their clients wanted onto this scenic ledge. The other side of the house overlooks a valley and river, immersed in sunlight. It is truly the best of both worlds.

The interiors are clean and spare, with the primary bedroom at one end and guest rooms at the other. The central great room isn’t huge, but it’s designed for maximum volume, a feat with no shear walls. Says Katherine, “Our engineer designed a carefully structured diaphragm system and dimensioned everything precisely. Even the nailing pattern and screws are part of the structural system.” 

Those stainless steel nails become part of the elegance of the design, almost like a “couture stitch,” says the architect. Necessity spawns invention again.


Custom Rural or Vacation House

Desai Chia Architecture
Ledge House
Cornwall, Connecticut

Project Credits

Architect: Katherine Chia, FAIA, and Arjun Desai, AIA, Desai Chia Architecture, New York

Builder: Classic Renovations, LLC, Sharon, Connecticut

Landscape Architect: AB Landscaping, LLC, Sharon

Project Size: 2,450 square feet

Site Size: 7 acres

Construction Cost: Withheld

Photography: Paul Warchol

Key Products

Cabinetry: Bulthaup

Cabinetry Hardware: Accuride

Cladding: Delta Millworks Burned and Brushed Shou Sugi Ban

Countertops: Caesarstone

Decking: Kebony

Door Hardware: Accurate Lock & Hardware, Rajack Offset Pivot Hinge

Drywall: USG

Engineered Lumber: LVLs, TJIs, Simpson Strong-Tie Hurricane Clips

Faucets: Kallista (bathrooms)

Fireplace: Ortal

Insulation: ROXUL

Kitchen Appliances: Gaggenau

Lighting: Flos, BK. Bega

Lighting Control/Window Shading: Lutron

Roofing: Pac-Clad

Roof Windows: VELUX

Sinks: Julien (kitchen); custom by Peter Brooks Stoneworks

Toilets: Duravit

Tub: Zen Bathworks Ofuro-Hinoki wood soaking tub

Underlayment: CDX plywood sheathing

Ventilation: Panasonic

Washer/Dryer: Samsung


Plans and Drawings

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