As architect Barbara Bestor contemplated a design for Ben and Meaghan Farver’s new home on 10 pristine acres bordering national forest in Bend, Oregon, she couldn’t help thinking that the land seemed straight out of a storybook. “It’s a beautiful setting, and it connects to all these paths for cross-country skiing and mountain biking—a perfect location,” she says. “The whole design concept is about how you put a cozy house in amongst the trees. I thought of it like a village. I wanted to make it feel like a little compound.”
Though the house is relatively small, Bestor separated it into three distinct masses—the main living area and master suite; a wing for a child’s bedroom and covered porch; and the garage—to create that imagined compound. Then she clad the structures in black slate that runs from the roof down the sides and complemented it with cedar siding. “I wanted it to look unified,” she says. “It gets very snowy here, so I wanted something that would look really beautiful against that.” Inside, the architect paneled the walls and pitched ceilings in golden hemlock. The stylistic effect, she says, is ambiguous: “Is it old? Is it new?” In the end, she sums up, “It had to be cozy.” It’s a feeling the Farvers craved, says Meaghan. They wanted the interior to be open and multifunctional rather than break off into separate rooms for specific activities. “Our lives take us out of our house a lot, so when we’re home it’s great to be all together.”
The Farvers enlisted designer Frances Merrill, who dressed the interiors in whimsical color and incorporated an eclectic mix of vintage and craft-made furnishings and decor—the latter a priority for the owners. “My husband is a maker,” Meaghan says, referring to his work creating custom carbon-fiber road bikes. “It was important to us to support other makers.” Meaghan also asked the designer to incorporate rugs, vases and a silver tray she inherited from her grandparents back east into the design. “We try to work in things that mean something,” notes Merrill. Her overall approach meshed with Bestor’s “cozy” mission. “It’s modern architecture, and it’s new construction, but it’s very warm, and that’s what we leaned into,” the designer says. “We wanted to avoid having everything too straight and clean.” That’s why she placed a classic, linen upholstered roll-arm sofa in the living area with quilt-covered, built-in daybeds and juxtaposed a warm, chunky custom weaving against the board-form concrete fireplace.
Handmade features abound, both architecturally and decoratively. General contractor Paul R. Spezza, of Spezza Construction, and his team handled the extensive finish carpentry, and Bestor designed integrated shelving, benches and cabinetry constructed of Douglas fir, hemlock and walnut. Merrill chose a handmade master bed by Oakland furniture maker Jacob May and Shaker-style kitchen stools made in Maine. Perhaps the most prominent crafted design, however, is the light installation by Los Angeles ceramicist Heather Levine that hangs over the dining table, a fixture the Farvers commissioned directly from the artist. Merrill then positioned the family’s heirloom Persian rug underneath and played off the lights’ organic lines with curvaceous yet simple Italian dining chairs around the couple’s own table.
The outdoors are ever-present in the design as well, ushered inside via huge windows, skylights and floor-to-ceiling sliders. “Architecturally, the goal was to have a really nice open feeling and as much glass as possible,” Bestor says. The master bedroom opens completely to a private deck from the corner with no visible support for the roofline, making the room feel like a luxurious tent. “It’s our favorite part of the house,” Ben says. “We look out and don’t see anything but the land. It’s pretty spectacular.”
In fact, landscape designer Chris Hart-Henderson left much of the property to Mother Nature, choosing native plants that soften the edges of the home and provide context to the walkways, terraces and entry path. “It’s a landscape that lives lightly on the space and doesn’t require much maintenance,” she says, adding that she took advantage of the required fire-buffer zone between the house and the trees to create places where the kids could play as well as areas where the parents could relax. “The outside does its job and beckons them,” she says. And even when the weather’s harsh, the home’s many windows and strategically located built-in seating allow the Farvers to enjoy the surrounding terrain, which they share with bobcats, elk and deer. “We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful space,” Ben says. “It made me realize how valuable good design is and what it does for your mental health and your quality of life.”