In the first few months after Steve Hatzis moved into his timber frame house in November 2012, random people would pull into his driveway at least twice a week, knock on his door and ask him who his architect was, who did his landscaping, what color stain he had used on the shingles, where he had purchased his windows. “It was flattering that so many people were inter- ested,” admits Steve. It is not surprising that his home piques curiosity, as there are very few, if any, new timber frame houses in Wilton.
Hatzis, who grew up in Connecticut, but lived in San Francisco and Nashville before moving to Wilton, had always wanted to build a house from scratch. “As I did research, I realized I wanted it to be timber frame,” he says. After discovering Timberpeg, a New Hampshire-based company, he started a conversation with Erich Diller, of Evolve Design, their Connecticut design rep. When he purchased his one-acre property in Wilton, he hired Evolve to custom design a house for the site. “It had a 350-square-foot non-winterized cabin on it. We considered renovating it for a home office, but no one had lived in it for years; it was in horrendous condition. To salvage it would have cost more than new construction,” he explains.
During the design process, Hatzis worked closely with Evolve. “I had specific criteria—I wanted to follow Sarah Susanka’s concept of the ‘not so big house’—the idea of quality over quantity, and not having any square footage that wasn’t going to be lived in. I grew up in a traditional colonial, and while I love them, so often many of the rooms are never used.” He had also decided to build sustainably; his home has a geothermal heating and cooling system, spray foam insula- tion and SIPs (structural insulated panels), and radiant floor heating throughout the first floor. “I didn’t care about getting LEED certifica- tion, but I felt incorporating green systems was the right thing to do.”
Because his property sits on a busy road, Hatzis and Evolve were care- ful to orient the house to provide as much privacy and natural light as possible. The entrance faces the side yard, and many of the windows facing the street are smaller, awning style ones. A stair tower facing the street allows western light to flood the interior spaces. Larger windows in the great room, kitchen, and master bedroom overlook the landscaped backyard, pool, and rear rock wall border. A wall of sliding glass doors leads from the great room to the sunporch, creating a seamless transition from indoors to outdoor spaces. “During warm weather months, I open the doors and feel so connected to the outdoors. When the awning windows along the opposite wall are open, I get a great cross-breeze,” he says.
The great room fireplace, a focal point in the room, was built with Connecticut fieldstone. “It took several iterations to find stones in the right hues of taupes, tans, and dark grays,” he says. The Arts & Crafts millwork, designed by Evolve, includes built-in cabinets and a window seat in the great room, the kitchen island and cabinets, a built-in cabinet in the pantry, and cubbies in the mudroom, complements the rich, warm Douglas Fir posts and beams, and provides ample storage. The kitchen and pantry counters are honed black granite. Hatzis chose ten-foot-wide white oak planks for the floors for their aged look and durability. Pocket doors between the mudroom and kitchen enable him to cor- ral his dogs—a yellow lab and golden retriever mix—when he doesn’t want them underfoot. A stairway from the mudroom leads up to a separate guest bedroom wing.
The second floor includes a master bedroom suite with a walk- in closet, master bathroom, and third-floor space that could be used as an office or exercise room, two smaller bedrooms, a bathroom, and laundry room. The guest bathroom floor is tiled in pebbles, a theme repeated in the pebbled beds of boxwoods and Russian sage bordering the house. A color palette of earthy greens, blues, yellows and reds—shades like Benjamin Moore’s Salsa Dancing—enhances the warmth and coziness of the inte- rior spaces, and complement the other materials.
Hatzis marvels at the home’s energy efficiency. “I get cold easily. Even with high ceilings, 91⁄2 feet in most rooms, and cathedral height in others, this house is so tight; it stays warm no matter what the temperature outside.” His highest monthly electrical bill was only about $250 to heat and run the whole house. “People either think the house looks huge—probably because of the high ceilings, natural light, and clean lines— but at just over 3,400 square feet, it’s actually smaller than many houses in town. Or they think it’s small—because the interior is cozy, cohesive and every space is used,” he says with a laugh. Either way, his house is just right for him.