Home Decor

Colleen Healey clads renovated Maryland home in Corten steel and cedar


Colleen Healey Architecture has renovated a 30-year-old home in Maryland, introducing large windows and a hybrid facade that mixes Corten steel with cedar shake.

The Bethesda, Maryland home is called Corten Tree House and covers close to 5,000 square feet (464 square metres) on a lot that borders a wooded conservation area with a natural spring that empties into the Potomac River.

Cedar shake and steel house
Colleen Healey renovated a cedar-clad home in Maryland

In an effort to reconcile the “completely disconnected” layout of the original home – where large walls and the front yard and entrance were hidden by a large freestanding garage – the architecture studio connected the front and back of the house to allow for additional entertaining space.

“Instead of just creating a deeper footprint, we focused on reconfiguring the first-floor layout and fenestration to better connect them to the front and rear outdoor spaces,” studio founder Colleen Healey told Dezeen, adding that she wanted to create a “spatial playfulness”.

Window with cedar shake and steel details
The studio created a facade with cedar shake and Corten steel

“The result is an efficient open main living level where each room can see both front and back through the house.”

By making use of the cedar shakes from the original home, the Studio was able to integrate a common, wooden, North American aesthetic in the upper half of the facade, while the lower half features the addition of Corten metal panels.

Door to the interior with shrub
The exterior is meant to be rustic and contrast with the bright modern interior

“On the exterior, cedar shakes, which are common for the region, were a sustainable solution that helped create a textural contrast with the Corten metal panels,” Healey told Dezeen.

“Both materials are economical and will continue to integrate more into the surroundings with time.

Window with young girl reading
Windows were repositioned to bring in more light with the additions

Additions to the two-storey structure comprised around 1,000 square feet (92 square metres), while most of the rest of the project consisted of renovating existing space.

The home steps down a steep hill, with the majority of the living spaces at grade.

Due to the nature of this secluded site, the studio was able to create moments of interior exposure with elements like the 15-foot (five metre) pocketed-glass doors, creating a sheltered environment than a definitive separation of indoor and outdoor space.

Stone fireplace with modern chairs and an antler chandelier
Interior detailing includes white oak and a stone fireplace

Existing ceiling grids were used to place new windows to “balance” the light that enters at different parts of the day so that the home is fairly protected to the south but still lit throughout the day.

The studio moved the primary suite from the side of the home, off the kitchen – which is now a mudroom and office space – to the second story. A new garage was placed off the living areas on the ground floor.

Additional bedrooms were placed below the ground floor, opening it up for open-concept living spaces. A deck and additional outdoor spaces were added around the perimeter of the structure.



Interior accents work together with the cedar and Corten Steel to create a natural material palette that enhances the fluidity between spaces.

Sloped windows with skylights add further light to the home.

sculptural roof skylight with black steel rail on floating staircase
A staircase leads to the added primary suite on the second storey

Blackened metal railings, white oak finishes, exposed metal shelves, stone accents and black metal framed glass cabinets give the interiors a clean, industrial appearance.

White wooden trusses run along the ceiling of the ground floor and support overhead lights.

Girl in white bedroom with modern bulb lamp
The renovation was meant to expand the public areas of the home

“The interior of the house is very modern in its shapes, detailing and connection to the outdoors, while the exterior is wrapped in a rustic industrial palette,” said Healey.

Colleen Healey has created a number of other projects in the area that mix rustic and contemporary finishes including a renovation of a carriage house using colourful facades and the renovation of a historic Washington DC home.

The photography is by Jennifer Hughes.


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