Edgar & Liliane's Cool Mountain Retreat

Edgar & Liliane's Cool Mountain Retreat

Dabney Frake
Apr 1, 2013

Name: Edgar & Liliane
Location: Allegheny Mountains, Pennsylvania
Size: 2885 square feet, not including outside terraces
Years lived in: 20 years; owned

Edgar's family owned a parcel of land in the mountains for years, using it as rustic getaway. After too many nights roughing it in a cabin on the property with no heat, plumbing or electricity, Edgar knew it was time to build his dream haven. He wanted a place where his family could unwind on the weekends, far from the hustle and bustle of city life. And it needed to be usable year-round.

Both Edgar and Liliane love to fish and hike with their long-haired dachshund Moxie. Luckily, their son (a nature and architecture buff in his own right) already knew an architect who shared their love of nature and understood their commitment to conservation. The two hit it off and together they got to work thinking about the perfect house. They agreed immediately that the surroundings (and one stream in particular) should be as integral to the house as the architecture. 

The house itself was inspired, in part, by Japanese principles of balance and harmony. A narrow entrance gives way to a large living room, with open floor plan and fireplace. Low ceilings encourage you to look outside. A unique feature of the house is the windows, which meet up at the corners of the structure. Importantly, the house is situated as close to their chosen stream as possible, allowing water to speak for itself, and creates dramatic views.  

Much of the house is organic, built largely from natural stone taken from a quarry on the property. A unified color palette - light ochre concrete with red accents - was chosen carefully and adhered to throughout the residence. 

The end result is a home that's both restful and intense, casual and striking.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Where indoors meets the outdoors.

Favorite Element: Hands down, the setting. You can hear the sound of running water throughout the house! 

Biggest Challenge: Like many projects, this one had its difficulties. Given its isolated location, and the unique natural features on the property, it was initially a struggle to build. Rather than fight the elements, we had to learn to work with what was there instead.  

What Friends Say: It's magical. There is such a feeling of peace and the sound of the water just slows everything down to a more livable pace.

Biggest Embarrassment: We made a lot of structural errors in the beginning, which caused some problems down the road.

Biggest Indulgence: The upkeep; it's taken a lot of money to fix this house.

Best Advice: As technology uses more and more of our resources, as the world's population grows even larger, harmony with nature is necessary for the very existence of mankind. Find a place that provides solace and a place to reflect and commune.

Resources of Note:


  • Cherokee Red


  • Sofas custom built by architect
  • Coffee tables custom built by architect
  • Side tables custom built by architect
  • Ottomans custom built by architect
  • Moroccan rugs are vintage


  • Table custom built by architect
  • Chairs custom built by architect
  • Shelving custom built by architect


  • Bed custom custom built by architect
  • Desk custom custom built by architect
  • Shelving custom built by architect

Edgar and Liliane, we can't thank you enough for sharing your home! 

(Images: 1. Real Assets Junkie, 2-3. Falling Water, 4-5. Wright House6. Attic Mag, 7. Wright-House, 8-12. Galen Fry Singer, 13. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 14. Huffington Post, 15. DJ Huppatz)

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