Check the Curves About This Cliffside Home

While overseeing the construction of their Gorge Amphitheater, winery owners Vince and Carol Bryan spent the majority of their time in their vineyard land in a string of mobile homes, after that in a prefabricated shed perched on the edge of their cavernous Columbia River Gorge. But two years of travel and experience gave them a very special inspiration that they finally put into play with the development of their own unique house.

Struck over the past few years by the beauty of curved, round shapes found in both nature and structure, the Bryans visualized a home that paid homage to all things around: arches, columns, circles, curves, spirals. Dismissing any requirement to adhere to one particular fashion, they instead made a home merged through the use of round types.

in a Glance
Who lives here: Vincent and Carol Bryan, founders of the Gorge Amphitheater and Cave B Estate Winery
Location: Close George, Washington, on the Columbia River Gorge
Size: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, home office, attic and detached carriage house

Kimberley Bryan

Back in 2000 that the Bryans took their two years of inspiration, drew it out and handed it to designer Dan Weller. “This was a superb collaboration between homeowner and designer,” Vince says. “We knew precisely what components we needed to work with: this incredible vista and stone. We knew we needed an expansive curved roof involving two fixed components, and rounded shapes instead of right angles. We loved what we’d seen in the Western missions, the Southwest, Italy and France, and we all wanted to not work with the environment we’ve got on this property, but you must be inspired by it as well.”

Kimberley Bryan

Wine grape growers since 1980, the Bryans knew an entry arbor are a must-have element. Weller designed the home “to walk down into the view,” Carol says. This intention begins outside, with a sloping walkway which brings guests gently to the house’s front door.

Kimberley Bryan

Their good friend’s son along with two vineyard employees assembled the cedar structure. Grapes and kiwi create a curvy, winding mass of plant life overhead. Basalt stone from the property constitutes the hand-built walkway.

Kimberley Bryan

Southwestern influences come through in numerous curved outlines. An arched window over double entry doors echoes a half-wagon-wheel arch over the arbor.

Kimberley Bryan

Built into the hill above the gorge, the rear of the house opens to grassed terraces which lead to the pool and yard.

Kimberley Bryan

“The outside columns were influenced by those we found in Bologna, Italy,” Vince says. “We were always struck with their beauty, as well as the beauty of the arch. This side of the house has just curves, no direct lines in any way.” Vince sketched ideas out and worked with a carpenter to arrive at the closing, three-tiered rounded form. “The carpenter spent a lot of time with his band saw, making distinct cuts arrive at the right, viable layout,” he says.

Wooden rafter tails are supposed to evoke sunlight beams radiating outward.

Kimberley Bryan

The couple installed an infinity pool inspired by one they found in Switzerland “to compete with the view as little as possible,” Carol says. “We knew it would supply that direct link to the river which we wanted.” The pool is among the few nonround layouts on the property. The couple felt that the rectangular shape was better for swimming laps.

Kimberley Bryan

Vince and Carol chosen to leave the vast majority of natural stone and sagebrush surrounding the house untouched.

The Bryans’ home design philosophy has been formed many years back when they were a young married couple researching the West Coast. Hearst Castle had a specific effect on them. “I had been struck by the simple fact that Hearst did not try for conventional continuity in his home,” Vince says. “He just created it with things he adored. I had never seen that before. That’s what we’ve achieved here. This home really reflects us.

Kimberley Bryan

“Voluminous space” was on peak of the couple’s record. Two whole Douglas fir logs out of Oregon support massive fir beams. “We really wanted a curved ceiling with no visual assistance,” says Vince. “But when we began building, we found we needed not only 1 service, but 2. I advised our designer that when we needed to put in another one, it would have to avoid impeding the area’s flow. That brought about the wrapping of the support column over the spiral stairs.”

The stained glass squares on the wall were inspired by Le Corbusier.

Kimberley Bryan

The majority of the main floor is one open space, with the entry, dining area, living area and kitchen flowing uninterrupted from 1 end of the home to another.

Kimberley Bryan

A jumble of large basalt boulders forms the nexus of the house. The pile once included a functioning fountain, but as the amount of toddlers grew, the water feature was forfeited for the sake of greater dining room. “All the grandchildren love it,” says Carol. “It’s constantly climbed all over when they are visiting.”

A large decorative sun sculpture from Amerex from Seattle is “a nod to the design of the house: the curved walls and the beams,” says Carol. “It also arouses the extreme sun we’ve got here in central Washington.”

Kimberley Bryan

Though many corners in the home are rounded, there remains lots of large, horizontal wall space to Vince and Carol’s art set. “What we do when we travel is visit art galleries,” Carol says. “Over the years we have collected a really diverse assortment of artwork; each slice has great personal meaning to us. We don’t care whether it is an original or a print. If it relates to our life or experiences somehow, it resonates loudly. The house has something of great meaning everywhere we look, which we adore.”

Against the rear wall, both the folding and sliding glass doors maintain steady during the gorge’s heavy winds.

Kimberley Bryan

“We first had to change the strategy to put in another floor,” Vince says. “Our designer did not initially include one. We’ve got a large family and needed bedroom space as well. He inquired how exactly we wanted to get it done, and I attracted an arch. He took that arch and made the attic we now have.”

Dozens of can lights dot the ceiling. Each segment is controlled individually to save energy prices and to supply targeted lighting. “We often turn off all of the lights except where we are reading, for instance,” Carol says. “In as large a room as this, that kind of light control has been invaluable.”

Kimberley Bryan

Cherry cabinets match the tones from the wood beams. The view from behind the stove is a very long one: The expanse of the room with a transparent perspective of the dining room and living room spaces makes it certain that the cooks stay in the conversation and part of the fun. “When we were growing up in the ’50s, the kitchens were totally cut off from the rest of the house,” says Carol.

Kimberley Bryan

Vince built these bookcases in the home office, in which Carol, shown here, functions.

Kimberley Bryan

The residence is tucked between hillside and cliff’s edge, so that its clay-tiled roof reveals over the stones and sagebrush.

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Copyright h o m e s t a y b e i j i n g 2 0 0 8 2020