JACK AND Stephanie Herman own and manage the Foliograph Galleries, selling prints and posters at several locations, and the Collectors Cabinet. They have a wide collection of paintings, prints, sculpture and art objects. They like good lighting, clean design and simple backgrounds to show off their collections.
"We'd spent two years fantasizing about farm property," said Stephanie Herman the day she and Jack Herman showed us through their house. "Then one day Jack called me and said, 'I've found our mountain.'"
A street had been cut through to serve a staid subdivision of expensive homes. A steep acre on one side of the road was left. The area builders considered it a throwaway. And indeed, a bulldozer plunged down the steep hill during the Hermans' construction. "Only one spot on the entire property would hold the house," Kristoff said. "And that was right up to the street edge."
It did make it possible to put the solar collectors atop the garage roof, facing south.
The house is sheathed in redwood -- six-inch-wide tongue and groove planking finished with a clear natural sealer.
The street side has no ground-level windows but a slanted glass roof over the banquettes bring in light to that end of the room. Most of the glass is concentrated on the east side of the house, not the perfect orientation for solar heat, but not the worst either. The east windows look out across a deck, to the forest, with an edge-of-the-world feeling.
You come in from the street into a motor court, the walk is hidden from the street by a raised planting area. From here the house is all angles. Through the glass front door, you come into a glass-roofed front hall, an atrium, with a dark tile floor to store heat. You never have to worry about the pencil cactus ruining the floor.
From the atrium, you can turn right to the coat closet or the powder room, or left to the 38-by-15-foot living room. The so-called living room actually is a three-section area. On the street side is a conversation room, with banquettes around a fireplace, topped with the glass roof. Some of their best paintings hang on the wall here, including a Gene Davis and a Cynthia Bickley. (What will all that light do to the paintings?)
A Mexican flute, a ceramic flute, crystal and calcite from Mexico, an 18-century bed warmer, all sit on the hearth.
In the living area is a motley collection of chairs. A bench was made by a man named Mackintosh in New York. in the adjacent dining area is a study table made by Union Woodworkers in Vermont.
At the end of the room, sliding glass doors lead to the deck.
"When I come home from dealing with people all day, I look at the trees to make the day good," said Jack Herman. "We moved the house over three feet to save a tree. We tied ribbons on the trees we wanted to save to warn the bulldozer. Me and the spirit of trees get along well."
Their land borders park. A stream goes by with swirl pools big enough to swim in.
To the south of the dining area is the kitchen with its Jenn-Air grill set in a central counter. The $1,100 Sub-Zero refrigerator is built in, as are the microwave and regular Thermador ovens. All the cabinets are red oak.
Beyond the kitchen is a study and family room.
At one end is Stephanie Herman's sewing machine and a table for paper work with cabinets to hold them. At the other is a fireplace with a hearth big enough to sit on. Two Hundert-wasser prints hang over it. The green house wall faces east and the forest. A hilarious chair, found at the Frederick craft fair basks in the sun.
Upstairs are a guest room and rooms for Adam, 7, who has the only window onto the street, and Amy, 12.The master bedroom has a deck overlooking the forest. It's so private they don't need shades. Two baths, compartmented, serve the upstairs. The laundry room is here as well.
On the lower floor is a solar equipment room, a bedroom, bath and recreation room leading to a patio.
The Herman house has about 4,200 square feet. The cost ran about $50 a square foot in 1979, thanks to problems with the contractor that left the house for a winter half finished under clear plastic. The lot was $80,000 3 1/2 years ago. Now a similar one is more like $150,000.