Nestled within the rugged landscape of the Appalachian foothills in North Carolina, you’ll find a modern house designed by Fuller/Overby Architecture that seamlessly marries impeccable design with nature. The Nebo House, perched along an elongated lakeside lot with a dramatic slope that’s situated opposite Big Island, stands as the perfect example of thoughtful integration with the environment. At first glance, the house appears as a cluster of small pavilions that embrace the natural contours of the hillside. These pavilions frame panoramic views of the surrounding landscape while embracing the ever-changing light of the sun.

down exterior view of modern brown house on hill with trees behind

The design uses retaining walls that traverse the site diagonally, making way for two earthwork courts that carve out space from the steep incline. Within these courts, a series of eight volumes emerges, each housing its own purpose. This arrangement not only frames views of the lake and mountains beyond but also establishes a connection between the house and its surrounding scenery.

angled view from down hill looking up to modern brown house in woods

The exterior is clad in dark, charred cypress, offering a sense of cohesion with the surrounding trees and further enhancing the unity with nature.

evening view of modern brown house's exterior

evening view of modern brown house's exterior

Designed as the permanent residence for a retired couple with an extended family, the Nebo House artfully balances private spaces with the public ones with the capacity for larger gatherings. Daily activities are concentrated on the lower floor, divided by a central courtyard that splits the level into two wings. This division, cleverly named “Day and Night,” marks the social areas to the east and the private sleeping spaces to the west. A hallway, which doubles as a mechanical and structure spine by the rear retaining wall, connects the private and public spaces.

view into modern living room at night with red section sofa and dramatic white staircase

The main floor is thoughtfully embedded into the hillside, with views directed to the lake, and clerestory windows above filtering in southern light. The surrounding earth serves as natural insulation, significantly reducing the need for heating and cooling. The house utilizes operable windows for natural airflow, a heat pump mechanical system, and cutting-edge glazing, insulation, appliances, and LED lighting to slash energy consumption in half, showcasing a commitment to sustainable living.

angled interior view of modern living room with double height ceilings

A cantilevered staircase lives next to the double height living room, rising up to the entrance and guest rooms above.

interior view of modern living room with double height ceilings

interior view of modern living room with double height ceilings

angled view of modern kitchen

interior view of modern kitchen with wood ceiling and cabinets

exterior courtyard view of modern brown house

up interior view of modern white staircase and floors above

interior view of small modern home office at top of the stairs

interior view of modern bedroom with angled white ceiling

interior view of modern bedroom with angled white ceiling

small bathroom interior with teal wall tiles

modern bathroom interior with beige and brown marble walls and white tub

exterior view from the dock on a lake

Photography by Paul Warchol

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.

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