MRT Recap: BHF / 3North / Watershed // Eicher Residence

Many thanks to Jim and Patty Eicher for sharing their home with Modern Richmond this month.  The house is a wonderful example of contemporary architecture and it makes the most of a small footprint.  A veteran of the Henrico County building department, Jim was happy to share stories of his quest to build an affordable, modern home.  The conversation was lively, the weather perfect, and Turq, Moose and Ed the Cat were gracious hosts.

The house was completed in 2005 and is a modest 1120 square feet.  Due to some long-forgotten reason in the county records, most of the spacious corner lot at the intersection of Horsepen and Stillwell Roads is designated as a flood plain.  The home rises from the expansive yard as a tower and is entered via a wood bridge from the small driveway along Horsepen.

High ceilings beneath the shed roof and expansive southern views from the upper level living room belie the small foot print.  Cabinets perform double duty at the stairwell as storage and extra seating.  

Windows at the SW corner provide ample daylight and plenty of passive heating in the winter.  A metal sunscreen - almost value engineered out - thankfully made the cut and helps temper the direct sun in the summer.  A small porch off the upper level living area extends out above the backyard like a treehouse.  

The design by Project Architect David Day (with 3North and Watershed Architects) includes numerous energy efficient components.  Careful siting, on-demand hot water, and increased insulation help to minimize mechanical equipment and the need for large utility rooms. 

Jim began the house when he was single but together he and Patty have made the house a home.  They maintain that the house challenges them to live simply and they have a strict "one thing in, one thing out" policy.  Jim notes that this "includes shoes" while Patty reminds him that the house is perfect save for its "lack of bathtub."  Simple doesn't have to mean austere, and small shelves and window sills are home to carefully curated mementos. 

In a neighborhood of non-descript cape cod and ranch homes, the Eicher's residence is both a pleasant anomaly and perfectly at home in its wooded setting.  On a weekly basis, curious onlookers driving down Stillwell stop their cars to check out this unique home.  In fact, for three years, this writer did exactly that on his way home from work.

When asked whether they would undertake to build another home, both Patty and Jim said yes - noting how rewarding it is to shape the design of your own place and "not be stuck with something."  Jim confirms the next house will have a bathtub.  Many thanks to the Eichers, as well as Turq, Moose, and Ed the Cat (not pictured) for opening their home to our group of curious onlookers.  

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for details on July's event.

-KWJ