Perched on the banks of a wide stretch of the Toccoa River outside Blue Ridge sits an uncommon vacation home with nary an exposed log beam, chunky rough hewn armchair or moose-themed anything. River Dwelling is a stunning modern tribute to all that makes a mountain house sing: unobstructed views of the river, dappled sunlight streaming in through expansive windows, an oversized wood fireplace, a well-stocked and open kitchen and comfortable en suite bedrooms. And, of course, the hot tub. This one sits at the end of an open deck among the old growth pines and oaks, within earshot of the babbling river, fishing deck and fire pit below. You won’t miss the trappings of the typical mountain log cabin, because you’ll be bewitched by the floor-to-ceiling windows in the main living room, the thoughtful lighting throughout the four bedroom, four bathroom home and the 10’ x 16’ rolling glass garage door that opens up the dining room to a balcony, bringing the outdoors in.
River Dwelling is owned by Dan Kaufman and Heather Kaufman of Buckhead, designed by Robert A Tretsch, AIA of Harrison Design Associates. The successful execution of the design was by Juan Ramirez of Studio D+C construction. This project was a unique convergence of three people who share the same ideals and passions for modern architecture. Both the architect and the builder were former colleagues at Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, a large commercial architecture firm in Midtown, explains Heather. Eschewing the standard “vernacular” of the “authentic” log cabin, the design team looked to create a sublime visual dichotomy between the verdant and the man made, promises the Kaufman’s website devoted to the vacation rental. The home is also available on VRBO.
The architects were challenged by the building site, already populated with an existing septic field and road setback. These hitches allowed the design team to conceptualize the house as a thin wall. “Only 20 feet total in width, the house is divided in two parts; a ‘solid’ that houses the support functions of the house and a ‘void’ that contains the living spaces. This ‘solid,’ facing the road, became a deliberate opaque monumentality, allowing for a systematic unveiling of the river views as one moves around the site. On the river side, the ‘void’ dematerializes to an uplifting transparency that allows direct visual interaction with the river,” explain the architects.
Dedicated to all things beautiful and contemporary, the Kaufmans chose a cast concrete fireplace, stainless GE appliances, handy and sleek IKEA cabinets and poured concrete countertops that complement the setting, rather than overwhelm the visitor with woodsiness.
While you may not want to leave River Dwelling, once you roll out of Atlanta, do consider dropping in a kayak up the river by Shallowford Bridge for a 2-3 hour paddle. Blue Ridge Lake is close by and easy to access from the marina for flat-water paddling in all seasons. Hiking the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests just across the road is convenient, so you don’t have to get behind the wheel for an adventure.
Rolling out of Atlanta on a Friday afternoon, this fresh vacation home offers a glowing beacon of bliss that will inspire you to think about your time in the North Georgia Mountains in a whole new way.