High Country Craftsman
By Rob Foster


    As Charlotte and the surrounding areas expand, so do its architectural styles.  Iíve seen a variety of styles come in sporadic patterns in the past.  It seems as though now, Iím witnessing these style varieties coming in waves.  I have spoken to many clients in the past 6 months who are moving into the area from other parts of the country.  From out west to Florida and obviously New York, variety seems to be the trend.  One style that has come up lately is the High Country Craftsman.  Some people call this style the ďColoradoĒ look.  Itís very mountainous in nature.  This is the style I would like to talk about.

    It used to be that the only place that you would find the High Country Craftsman style is out west in high country mountain terrain. This is not the case anymore.  Still very dominant in the mountain areas, Iíve seen requests for this style creep down the mountainside to the Charlotte area.  With the North Carolina mountains becoming the new Florida, the second home market is more frequent.  Call them retreat homes.  Itís all about capturing those incredible views.  Its mucho important to see what you paid for.  Thatís what this style does, it maximizes the view capabilities.

    I want to talk about the exterior look first.  One of the most dominant exterior features you notice, as you drive up, is the use of wood beams situated in a truss pattern high up in the gables.  These truss patterns can be set up in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Whether straight, angled, or curved, the beam pattern often matches a window pattern.  This look dictates the feel of the house.  It just screams mountainous to you.  You will almost always have a pattern of glass high up in these gables, perhaps located in a vaulted family room or master suite, especially in a focal point location; foyer or family room.  The overhangs are typically larger than normal.  3í to 4í is a common overhang length.  The soffits are typically sloped and if done in architecturally correct, gutters are not needed.  This is the reason for the larger overhangs.  You will often find wood brackets under the eaves or holding up a pop-out of some sort.  Many times these brackets are just for looks, but they actually derived from a structural purpose.  The window and door shapes are squared up for the most part.  The exception would be as a focal point up in one of those high gables we talked about.  In these areas, you could use a big arched top window or perhaps a triangle shape of glass.  This would take the same shape as the gable.  It really just depends on the look of the home.  I personally like the use of the arched top up high in those situations.  The arch is more of a new aged look, where the triangle shaped glass is more of a traditional mountain look. 



The exterior finish of the High Country Craftsman styled home is traditionally a wood sided material.  Iíve used horizontal lapped siding.  This could be cedar or hardwood or even Hardi siding.  Hardi is often used to eliminate the maintenance.  I have also done a vertical board and batten finish.  The base of the home could be either stone, or even a stucco parge.  This is basically stucco put onto the foundation.  I use stone very often.  Typically these homes are built with a lot of vegetation around and the use of natural materials with natural colors really looks harmonious.  The realtors would tell you to play it safe, always use earth tones.  To me, it just looks good.  The roofing material can either be an asphalt shingle, metal, tile, or even a cedar shake.  The windows and doors would usually have a simple wood surround or casing.  Simplicity is the key.  This is not a style you ďjunk upĒ.  From a builderís perspective, this style of home is fairly simple and mostly boxy.  Possibly angled to capture a view but you wonít or shouldnít ever find a circular stair turret.  Save that for the Charlopeans.

The floor plan layouts can either be tradionally set up or jazzed up with a newer, up to date feel.  Thatís the cool thing about this style.  Again, there usually would be a few focal, wow rooms.  The foyer usually opens up with volume as well as the family or hearth room.  Picture yourself in a ski lodge with high ceilings with lots of glass and of course a big stone fireplace.  I like to bring in some of the exterior elements to the interior.  The wood trusses to be done up high in the vaulted rooms.  Many times I will use stone column bases.  Wood floors are a must.  Again, all natural always works.  There is almost always a covered rear terrace or screened porch.  Outdoor living is a must have.  In todayís times, that is true with any style.   Of course, you still need to have all the modern ďmust haveďrooms and spaces.  A few of these are the open big kitchen, really nice master bath and closets, the mud area with the lockers and bench.  Letís face it, its momís house.  Dad just needs a place to watch tv, play pool, and park his car.  The kids just need a place to watch tv and play video games and sleep on occasion.

   I guess to sum up the High Country Craftsman style, think of Colorado.  Although you may be in North Carolina. 

Written By Rob Foster

Robert T. Foster
Design Studio

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