Winter House is a Florida home designed for modernist living

Winter House by Steven Harris Architects is a Florida home that brings together serenity, nature and idyllic modernist living

winter house among nature
(Image credit: Scott Frances)

Winter House, designed by US practice Steven Harris Architects, brings together many elements that often define the idyllic, modernist living aesthetic; there are clean, midcentury lines and a low-slung form that nods formally to the works of 20th-century architecture masters such as Mies van der Rohe; the house is set in a verdant, generous plot in the equally green Winter Park, the city just outside Orlando; and it makes the most of the pleasant Florida climate to compose a domestic, minimalist architecture environment that seamlessly blends inside and outside, featuring large openings and transparencies that connect the residents with nature at every turn. 

winter house exterior

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

Winter House: lightness and minimalist lines

Indeed, Winter House was designed to make the most of its environment. Expertly embedded into a gently sloped plot, it was created to work with – instead of contrast with – the region's soft hills. It keeps a low profile and prioritises lightness and transparency so as not to take away from the landscaped site's views of nature. As the architects point out, it is 'barely visible when approaching it from the street'. 

dining area in minimalist house

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

The abstractly U-shaped floorplan creates a glass-enclosed courtyard, bringing in light and green views as the residents circulate between rooms. Additionally, this way, the home meanders around century-old oak trees, pre-existing on the site, preserving them and allowing them space to grow. Alongside these, more native planting blends with a lap pool and a decked terrace that allows for al fresco living for the owners. 

winter house inside living space looking out

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

This perceived effortlessness and simplicity, the architects explain, is deceptive. The simple volumes are no mean feat, built on a series of grade beams, utilising strategically designed elements, such as the deep roof overhangs, a light – yet not harsh or clinical – colour palette, and a series of minimalist sky-frame frameless windows that allow the interiors to always be at one with the outdoors. Portland-based designer Jessica Helgerson worked on the home's interiors throughout. 

inside winter house looking out to the garden through glazed walls

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

The serenity and seamless union of natural and manmade continues in all parts of the design. 'The lakeside façade extends this sense of calm,' the architects write. 'It features a marine railway system that allows the clients’ boat to glide in and out of the water, preserving the natural edge of the lake and eliminating the need for a boathouse that would otherwise clutter the view.'  

clean lines and openness in winter house

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

Winter House is the latest in a long series of spectacular homes by the New York architecture firm. Past works include residential designs in their home city and beyond, as well as public and commercial work, such as a Dolce & Gabbana store in St Barts

garden and swimming pool at winter house

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

winter house inside outside relationship with the swimming pool

(Image credit: Scott Frances)

winter house among nature at dusk

(Image credit: Scott Frances) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).