Published: Oct 24, 2011 11:01 AM
Modified: Oct 24, 2011 10:59 AM
The house at 1034 Highland Woods Road is rising from the ashes of a 2009 house fire thanks to builder Woody Claris, who began reimagining what could be placed on the footprint of the brick foundation when the owners decided to rebuild in 2010.
The main floor of the house was too damaged by smoke and water to be repaired, according to Claris, who worked with Habitat Reuse of Durham and Orange Counties to salvage what could be salvaged to benefit Habitat and other home owners by recycling.
Then the dreaming started.
The owners wanted a garage instead of a carport. They wanted an amply-sized mudroom separate from a large laundry with cabinets and desk space for a computer and hobby interests. They wanted formal spaces and a large, informal great room adjacent to a roomy kitchen.
Claris wanted to rid the house of wasted space that 1950s-style long narrow hallways create. He also wanted the 7.5-foot ceiling in the walk-out basement to be raised, which would allow that 2,600-square-foot area to achieve its full potential in the future.
Built originally in the late-1950s in the style of a raised, modernist California Rambler, the main floor of the house has been totally redesigned by Claris with the assistance of Diane Oxley and Roy Brown of Abodesign LLC (919-479-1013).
The house retains its signature ground-hugging profile and minimalist style. Claris used West Coast Cedar siding and Hardiboard trim in building the distinguishing dovecotes, large eaves, and board and batten style of California Ramblers.
In the modernist style, he retained the 8-foot wide front doors that open to an 11-by-14-foot foyer that allows glimpses of the backyard through floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. He raised the ceiling of the 16-by-23-foot great room to create a cathedral ceiling with recessed lighting.
Although he had to dismantle the wood-burning fireplace to gain space for the great room, he positioned a gas-log fireplace in the corner of the room with space above the mantle for a large-screen television. In addition to the great room, the house also has a formal 11-by-23-foot living room.
The removal of the original fireplace also allowed the design of the master bedroom suite and two additional bedrooms that share a buddy bath to be created without the use of a long hallway between them. The homes current, short hallway is a spacious four feet wide, which allows easy access to the master bedroom suite and a place for family photos.
Almost all of the homes in this neighborhood are on at least half to one-acre tracts. The house at 1034 Highland Woods is set far back on its lot with specimen Magnolias and mature shrubbery allowing the front porch and yard to have privacy usually found only in a back yard.
The siting of the house also made it easy for Claris to add a garage without having it be the focal point of the house. He turned the carport into a garage with the doors opening to the side.
Homeowners entering the house from the garage step up to a large mudroom that opens to a laundry/hobby room, the kitchen and to the 11.5-by-13.5-foot formal dining room. For those who love entertaining, this would allow a Butlers pantry to be added to the wall of the mudroom adjacent to the formal dining room. Although this would be overkill for most, since the 16-by-10-foot kitchen with its tall, flat-panel Merillat maple cabinets has ample storage space.
Claris added six courses of brick to the foundation, which gave an extra 16 inches of height to this space, which is actually about 200 square feet larger than the main floor since it includes the area under the main levels outdoor brick balcony. The basement, itself, is unfinished except for new, energy-efficient windows and door.
When you walk out of the basement, you are under the shade of a specimen, red-hued Crape Myrtle in the back yard, which has a buffer of trees between it and the edge of Highland Woods. Homeowners and/or their guests will also enjoy this view from the main level brick balcony off the great room, master bedroom suite, kitchen and laundry room.
Meet the builder
Red oak floors will gleam throughout the main floor of the house, except for the 2.5 baths which feature ceramic tile. But when you come to the open house October 23, the floors will not be gleaming. The bathroom tile will be started, but not completed. The walls will be primed, but the finished coat will not be there. The house is still under construction, waiting for new owners to choose finishing details because the current owners are starting new lives elsewhere.
Claris, a Triangle builder since 1979 and former president of the local Home Builders Association will be available during the open house to answer questions and talk to visitors about the possibilities for expansion in the walk-out basement.
To learn more about Claris Inc., go to www.clarisinc.comor call 919-625-3263. To see more photos of the house at 1034 Highland Woods, log onto www.gayleclaris.pruysu.com/1802371
About Highland Woods
Highland Woods is an enclave of 25 homes many of them modernist houses located across Old Mason Farm Road from the North Carolina Botanical Garden and across 15-501 Bypass from Laurel Hill, a neighborhood which hugs the University of North Carolinas main campus near the Law School and Institute of Government.
Children living in Highland Woods would attend Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools: East Chapel Hill High School, Culbreth Middle School and Glenwood Elementary School, the latter of which is in walking distance. St. Thomas More Catholic School is across 15-501 Bypass.
It is an easy walk or bicycle ride to UNCs main campus, the Botanical Gardens, UNCs Finley Golf Course and Cross Country running trail. Some of the homes in Highland Woods back up to Finley and others to the 600 acres of conservation lands of the Botanical Gardens where there are miles of hiking trails.
Currently there are three homes for sale in Highland Woods: an Edward D. Ned Dart designed home of 1,758 square feet at 1004 Highland Woods built in 1957 and which retains almost all of its original fixtures and design is now offered at $274,000 by Jay Parker and Don Basnight of Weaver Street Realty (919-929-5658); a 3,411 square-foot home anchored by a free-standing stone fireplace at 1018 Highland Woods built in 1959 and now offered at $299,000 by April Grossman of Shelter Real Estate (919-260-5875); and the above home at 1034 Highland Woods being offered at $525,000 by Gayle Claris of Prudential Carolinas York Simpson Underwood (919-423-4233).
For a history on the creation of Highland Woods in the mid-1950s, read The Saga of Highland Woods by Judson J. VanWyk (version of August 18, 2003) available at the Chapel Hill Library.
Sally Keeney can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-942-1027.
Monarch aluminum-clad, energy-efficient windows, custom glass in the double front doors and West Coast cedar siding keep the signature style of this modernist California Rambler in Highland Woods.