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Deignan House

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With its pairing of traditional lines and contemporary materials, Tom Deignan’s new home in rural Pennsylvania certainly catches the eyes of passers-by – he says they’re known to cause traffic jams as they stop to get a clearer glimpse. Certainly, the locally quarried stone cladding, ipe wood siding and clean-lined, standing-seam metal roof cut a clean figure on the site above a six-acre pond. But what gets passing drivers to slam on their brakes are the stunning, cupped stainless-steel tile gracing the home’s oversized entrance, along with a poolside accent wall. The highly polished material almost has the appearance of glass block and was the owner’s first choice even before plans for the home began.

“Someday, I’m going to build a building using that product,” Deignan says, describing his reaction upon first seeing the tile at a regional building show. As the president of Paoli, Pa.-based Carrollton Design Build, with projects including a mix of commercial buildings and high-end custom homes, Deignan stays on the lookout for new and unusual materials.

“I’m always looking to do something different,” he says, underlining his instant attraction to the cupped tile’s design possibilities. “I said, ‘Wow, I want to use this on my residence!’.”

Along with its arresting reflectivity, the tile creates a strong contrast with the matte steel roofing panels – both products from Petersen, which manufactures PAC-CLAD metal cladding. In all, 1,500 sq. ft. of the 26-gauge tile from Petersen’s line of Precision Series Tiles were used in a Bright Annealed finish, along with 17,000 sq. ft of Snap-Clad 24-gauge roof panels in Weathered Zinc.

Architect Carl Gutilla, with the Paoli-based firm of 3GHC, says his plans were geared around his client’s desire for “a home that functions as a ranch house, but doesn’t have the appearance of a typical ranch house.” He built the layout around the repurposed foundation of the lot’s previous home, a linear, 1960s glass home that had fallen into disrepair.

In contrast to the previous modernist dwelling, this new home eschews a flat-roof approach for a series of gables that give the appearance of a small village, rather than a single home. “We bifurcated the roof – it looks like a cluster of buildings,” says Deignan, whose firm also served as the project’s general contractor. “We now have six buildings on the property, but four of those six are actually one building. We have a series of gabled roofs and several intermediate roofs over indoor gardens that are essentially connector rooms.”

The roof and tiles aren’t the only use of metal in the project. The monumental 4-ft.-x-10-ft. front door is fabricated from Corten Steel on a pivot, which, Deignan says makes for “very interesting architecture” as it contrasts with the surrounding stainless-finished tile. Corten also is used to clad the exterior of the lap pool perched over the cliff that leads down to the adjacent pond. Also striking is the use of angle iron for the gutters. That material’s strength allows the gutters to serve a dual purpose as a snow retention system.

The lovely location posed significant challenges during construction, despite having a foundation already in place. The home essentially is sited on the side of a cliff, with a sloped, 45-degree driveway that added difficulty to the task of laying materials into place. “We used everything from lifts to scaffold systems,” Deignan says. “We even had to get creative with cranes.”

Still, all involved had experience with Petersen, which aided design of the roof and tiled walls. “We have used Petersen on other commercial projects over the years and have success with the products,” Gutilla says, adding that the company’s online details aided his design process. Deignan notes that his firm has worked with Petersen for years, with projects that have been featured in Petersen calendars and other promotional materials. But, perhaps the best recommendation he provides lies in the satisfaction he and his family have found living in their new home.

“We’re in love with it,” he says. “We’re in heaven on earth, here.”

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