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Design-Forward Yet Family-Friendly

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Featured Company: Jonathan Kuhn Architect - Location: Washington DC - Project Type: Residence - Project Name: The Rainscreen House

Photos by Greg Hadley,

By Margaret Poe

Jonathan Kuhn’s mission was clear: transform a dark and tired 1920s house into a bright and airy home fit for a growing family. The one-story brick house in Washington, DC, simply wasn’t large enough space for the couple, which had a child on the way. But it wasn’t just space they desired. The husband, an architect himself, wanted the home to be a showpiece.

Kuhn determined that a second-story addition was the best way to meet his client’s goals. The large windows flooded the house with natural light—a major plus for the wife— and the additional space allowed the interior rooms to flow in a way that would have been impossible before the new add-on.

One element solidifies the whole project, says Kuhn: the rainscreen. Made of Kebony, a Norwegian wood product, the rainscreen unifies the façade and offers a welcome contrast to the original brick, exposed in part underneath. The siding, made of specially treated sustainable wood, is resistant to the elements and can last up to three times as long as traditional timber. Its dark hue resembles teak or mahogany—varieties currently depleting rapidly due to deforestation.

The modern detailing in the siding and the coarse masonry come together in “an intersection of horizontal elements and roofs, the merging of interior spaces, and the infusion of natural light,” Kuhn says. The form of the addition—a turned gable—is recognizable, keeping the design grounded.

Throughout the process, Kuhn focused on how to best present concepts and materials to a couple that already had one foot in the architectural world. “Thoughtful planning, layouts, and descriptions that fulfilled her desires also had to be presented in a way to satisfy his knowledge of the industry and pursuit of making the project an architectural gem,” Kuhn says. He pulled it off, creating a home with the panache to appeal to design-industry insiders and the practical features that a young family needs.

Norwegian Wood

Thomas Archer Contracting has collaborated with the architect behind this modern home, Jonathan Kuhn, on a number of projects, as the builder specializes in historic and custom work throughout the Washington, DC, metro area. “The unique use of the Norwegian Kebony to bring out the texture of the original English cottage architecture really stood out on this project,” says Thomas Archer Contracting owner John C. Moody III.

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