The Family Home

When a lighting designer teams up with her architect brother to design a house, surprising and wonderful things are bound to happen.

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Owner Leslie Sander loves color, so she choose slate with tones of plum to surround the fireplace and a blue Knoll sofa from 1969 to make the room pop. “After all those years apart, this gave us the chance to rebuild our relationship,” she says.

Forging the bonds of familial affection came naturally. Building the house was problematic.

Neighbors objected to the structure’s severe angles and boxy, flat-topped shape. They suggested Sander add a peaked roof and Colonial-style shutters to the design.

A stream runs through the property, increasing the potential for flooding. As a result, the area that could be developed was small.

With little space to build out, the Sander siblings decided to build up, designing a vertical house with a raised living room and master suite that create a lofty vibe.

In the end, the home became the architect’s first hybrid house, meaning that the construction is partly prefabricated, yet totally custom. Sander’s home, christened The Tree House, has won numerous awards and was recently featured as one of the top 1,000 residences in the book “Architecture of the Americas.”

With broad expanses of glass, it’s a style more suited to sunny Southern California than the Mid-Atlantic, where winters are cold and snowy. The project called for such unorthodox materials as commercial storefront glass. A radiant heat system was installed under bamboo flooring.

A steady stream of contractors passed on the job. Ultimately, Sander hired Gary Munch of Boss Enterprises Inc. in Wilmington to build it.

Page 3: The Family Home, continues...