Smart, Stylish, Sustainable: House in Beech Forest Featured on Fall Modapalooza Tour

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA
View from the kitchen at the center of the house through the dining area to the deck and the forest.

The name Arielle Condoret Schechter has become synonymous in the Triangle with smart, stylish, Net Zero Passive houses whose modern horizontal forms appear as comfortable on their sites as the forests that often surround them.

Fans of this Chapel Hill architect’s work were pleased to learn that her most recently completed house — this one in Chapel Hill’s Beech Forest — will be featured on the fall “Modapalooza” Tour of modernist houses in the Triangle.

Sponsored by the non-profit organization North Carolina Modernist Houses, this fall’s “Modapalooza” will be held on Saturday, October 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will offer nine private homes for touring, including Schechter’s Mason-Grabell House on Mill Valley Road.

Schechter designed the 2465-square-foot house for Anne Mason and Bruce Grabell who moved to Chapel Hill from Florida. They wanted a modest and modern, environmentally sustainable, age-in-place home in a natural setting. They found the perfect property in Beech Forest.

Working with green home builder Kevin Murphy of Newphire Building Co. in Chapel Hill, Schechter designed the Mason-Grabell House to be extremely energy efficient now as it awaits a future solar array on the roof, which will take it easily to Net Zero.

Among the high-performance features that Modapalooza tour-goers will see are Schechter’s favorite Passive House-rated windows and doors from Eurostar Fenestration® and the flat roof’s deep overhangs. The latter provide shade for the windows and overhead shelter for the porches and decks – the outdoor living spaces – that are key elements in all of Schechter’s residential work.

To meet the homeowners’ age-in-place goal, Schechter designed the one-story house to be “zero thresholds” from the walkway to the front door and throughout the interior: There are no steps and no tripping hazards, such as thresholds at doorways and shower curbs.

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA
Arielle Schechter custom-designed all of the black walnut cabinetry in the kitchen and throughout the house.

On the front elevation, reminiscent of a cluster of orange Cosmos in a field of wildflowers, the house’s orange front door is a bold element within the horizontal panel siding and cypress accent wall.

On the rear elevation, a large screen porch appears to float out into the landscape. A wrap-around deck connects the porch to an outdoor grilling area.

Inside, an entire wall of the main living space is actually two massive, glass folding doors. While the house’s windows, strategically placed to avoid heat gain, provide visual access to the natural setting, the folding doors literally open the interior to the outdoors overlooking Beech Forest.

Aware that Anne Mason loves to cook, Schechter’s floorplan revolves around the kitchen — the heart of the house, both physically and metaphorically — with all other spaces having easy access to it.

And in the kitchen, as throughout the interior, Schechter custom designed all of the black walnut cabinetry. With its vivid grain and rich color, black walnut is both retro and regal and lent itself beautifully as well to the mid-century-inspired cocktail bar she created for a space beside the fireplace in the dining area.

The fall Modapalooza Tour is sold out, but NCMH founder George Smart encourages anyone interested to get his or her name on the waiting list in case there are cancellations. Click here for details.

For more information on Arielle Condoret Schechter and her work, visit www.acsarchitect.com.

About Arielle Condoret Schechter:

Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA, is a licensed, registered architect based in Chapel Hill, NC, who specializes in Modernist, energy-efficient buildings with a focus on Passive houses, Net Zero/Net Positive houses, and Micropolis Houses®, the collection of tiny houses she designed. Her residential projects range from 400 to 6000 square feet. She is a lifelong environmentalist and began practicing green design long before it became mainstream. She is also a lifelong animal advocate. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Arnie, and an assortment of foster animals in the Modern, sustainable house she designed for them. For more information: www.acsarchitect.com.