When David and April Turner approached Taggart Design Group about building a home on a unique piece of property in Cammack Village, “they had some fairly definitive ideas about the direction they wanted me to go,” architect Burt Taggart Jr. said. “They liked mid-century modern, but they didn’t want a copycat mid-century modern home.”


The project couldn’t have been a better fit for the full-service design studio, founded in 2008 by Taggart and his son, Burt Taggart III. The site itself consisted of two parcels separated by a stream, with large, established trees throughout. Honoring those trees – and highlighting the creek – were main concerns for Taggart.


“The lot, the neighborhood, the broader context in which I am going to drop a building or a home all have a pretty significant impact on my thought process,” he said. “The house was designed so that we were taking as much advantage of the lot as we could. We were trying to develop a strong indoor-outdoor relationship so the line between outside and inside was blurred.”


The interior design palette, as well as stone and wood elements, reflect the midcentury modern aesthetic and accentuate the indoor and outdoor relationship.


The result is a home that works with the natural environment instead of around it, one that Taggart described as having “a treehouse effect.” That feeling is only heightened by the slope of the lot, which has the master suite sitting several feet above ground. Thanks to a deck wrapped around two of its corners, the view from the master bedroom conjures the idea of being lost in the woods without ever leaving town.


Far from a lofty woodland escape, though, the Turners’ home is still fully grounded in and connected to the neighborhood in which it resides. In line with both the homeowners’ wishes and his own contextualist tendencies, Taggart did not want the home to be “unduly lofty” from the street. Accordingly, the bulk of the house from that side relies on horizontal lines and a wide roof overhang to give the one-story element a lower profile.


“I wanted a piece of art, basically, but I didn’t want it to stand out,” April said. “I wanted it to blend in with the neighborhood, but when you really look at the details, it’s gorgeous.”


Looking at those details, “gorgeous” is right. Along with stucco, used to heighten the modern aesthetic, the exterior incorporates a few of the Turners’ “must-haves,” including a standing seam metal roof and stacked stone. Large windows let natural light in to illuminate the stone and wood elements incorporated throughout the interior. In addition to the striking visuals created by contrasting metal, glass and rock, the exterior also nods to one of Taggart’s long-term goals for the home.


“[Stone] was selected to give color and texture to both the exterior and the interior, and, over time, it will visually soften the aesthetic of the house so it is more sympathetic to the context of the neighborhood,” Taggart said. “When the scars of construction begin to heal, and the new landscaping takes hold, that’s when the house is going to feel like it was born there.”



Thoughtful window placement enhances the visual intrigue created by the spiral staircase.


Taggart’s solution to the structural demands of the property was a modified U-shape, with the unassuming front of the house revealing only a hint of what awaits inside. Staircases anchor the two-story section of the house at either end, with the second providing a beautiful spiral visual element showcased in glass. The strategic use of glass also creates excitement as one moves from the formal living area to the den beyond. Facing the backyard and the wooded area along the creek, Taggart described the den as “a glass box.” Viewers from the living area catch a glimpse of the view through the house, but “when you take six or eight steps into the house, the back of the house sort of explodes, and you begin to see the indoor/outdoor connectedness,” he said.


Tall ceilings, another specific request from the Turners, only add to the feeling that the space is opening up and welcoming you into the rest of the home. April, who summarized the house’s style as “mid-century with a really contemporary twist,” explained that in addition to the balance of indoor and outdoor elements, tempering a clean, modern style with warmer, mid-century aesthetics was an important motivation for the design.


“Contemporary is always kind of cold, and I wanted something warm and inviting. That’s why I leaned more towards the mid-century,” she said. “I want [guests] to feel comfortable when they walk in, but I also want them to be wowed in many ways.”


Grays, whites and earth-tones allow tasteful additions of color to pop throughout the house. The simplicity of the mid-century modern style also allows the natural elements to sing all the more, adding to an overall look that is at once alluring and accessible, as engaging as it is elegant.



“I grew up in a very beautiful home, so I feel like it’s my parents’ fault that I’ve always wanted a beautiful home for myself,” April said. “I wanted something where nature kind of comes in.”


While the main bedroom wing sits on the second level, the house “lives” primarily downstairs, with the open floor plan allowing different areas to flow into one another. In harmony with the easy movement between inside and out, the structure’s continuity and cohesion also reflects the Turners’ family dynamic – visually and practically, the space is a place for the couple and their young children to grow and do life together.


For Taggart, meeting the challenges of a certain project is as simple and as complicated as knowing how to listen. Initially, that means listening to the desires and perspective of the clients. But he also listens deeply to the site itself, going in without preconceived notions about the space or the outcome.


“I try to seek out in each project – and this is going to seem awfully abstract, but it’s the way I think – what does the project want to be?” Taggart said. “I’m not imposing my will; I’m trying to discover for myself what it wants to be. I try to get out of the way.”


Taggart’s style is evident, not for any one aesthetic choice, but because of the excellence of the finished product. At the end of the day, he added, success is measured by the Turners themselves and whether their vision has truly come to life.




For the Turners’ part, it seems like “success” is putting things lightly.


“I couldn’t be happier. He made it better than I would even have imagined,” April said. “You just can’t turn anywhere without seeing something special.”


When Taggart initially looked over the property with the Turners, he called it “a diamond in the rough.”  Remembering that moment after four years of designing, building and finally being able to move into their dream home, April added, “He made a true diamond.”


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