Bluff Island Guest House


Design & Builder: Steve Taylor
Design Consultant: James A Kerr
Owner: Richard and Carol Munro
Location: Bluff Island, New York

This contemporary cottage is located on a north facing point, offering panoramic views from the West to the Northeast. Warmed by the high summer sun, the point overlooks open water and distant islands, enjoying sunsets for half the year.


We started with a detailed topographical survey of the site upon which we indicated directions to sunrises and sunsets at various times of the year. With the owners, Dick and Carol Munro, we developed a philosophy for living there, determining that the house should sit on the upper part of the bank with decks cantilevering out as the bank falls away “like pine boughs reaching for light." Generous roof overhangs reflect the outreaching decks and provide shelter from the summer sun. The inside and the outside weave into each other.

In selecting the building materials, we drew from the rich architectural heritage of this area, using native granite for the fireplace, stained rough-sawn wood siding, and cedar shingles for the roofing. The White Pine boards under the overhangs continue into the house as light coves. It is rewarding to use natural materials in new ways, taking advantage of new building and glazing possibilities to open and “free” up space.

The completed house is a “pavilion” with walls of glass and a timber frame adding a rhythm of space and structure.