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Glass Craft – Custom Home

Custom Home Magazine

By Shelly D. Hutchins

Even with years of experience creating gorgeous glass rooms from scratch, Denton, Md. – based Tanglewood Conservatories had its artistic and fabricating skills tested by the demands of this conservatory for an existing stone house overlooking a private lake. “The homeowner called us after already pouring the foundation,” explains co-founder and designer Alan. “So the challenge from day one was how to build on this 1,200-square-foot base and create a space that blended with the house but didn’t feel like a giant glass box.” Alan relied on his past experience as an architect and builder to come up with a layout that fit the constraints and still generated a “sense of awe.”

A multi-gabled roof with a clerestoried cupola breaks down the conservatory’s scale and suits the home’s proportions and existing fenestration. Tanglewood’s glass-making ability came in especially handy here because each operable window is a slightly different size. “You can’t tell by looking,” says Alan, “but altering each window by quarters of an inch allowed us to keep details symmetrical and still fit the foundation.” Features such as carved brackets and painted woodwork relate to, but don’t copy finishes from the house. Alan’s wife and partner, Nancy Virts, used her trained eye as a textile artist to advise on finishing touches, such as the hand-painted panes above each window that highlight a different wildflower. Such well-crafted devices help even a tricky project like this one blend elegantly with house and site.