My Modern Castle Design Philosophy

I am not building a time capsule. It is not my desire to recreate a castle as it existed back in 1350. I am aiming for a more evolutionary structure. Conceptually with the idea that the castle may have been originally built many hundreds of years ago, and the bones of the structure would be that old, but that it would have been lived in since, and the interiors would have evolved with the ages. So the exterior would like old, but the interior might have very old beams and raw stone married with Victorian era woodwork styles, I don’t have a problem with that.

I am however of course making some sacrifices on the interior in order to both make it more livable and to better achieve the look I want on the exterior. Namely instead of doing relatively smaller interior rooms, I am doing large open floor plans, and I’m putting in a massive skylight. In my post on What Makes a Castle a Castle, which you should read before this post if you’ve not. I talk about how you need to minimize windows, especially at lower levels (and the “face” or front of the building) in order to look like a defensible structure (ie, castle). I’m doing that, heavily minimizing windows, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living in a dark and dreary place.

So I am using an open floor plan on the lower floors with minimal room dividers to allow what windows there are to light multiple rooms, and I am putting a large skylight over the center core of the castle, which will be open for three straight stories shining on the main staircase. The thing is like at least 12×25, I think bigger even. This feature is very uncastle-like, or at least I’ve never seen it, but it is the only way I think I can minimize windows to the extent that I want to.

I will also be using a splayed base as I discussed in my What Makes a Castle a Castle post, as well as very substantial battlements.

The other thing you can do is go tall, and get any windows as high off the ground as possible. I’m having the 1st floor start 6 feet off grade. The basement will have no windows of course. So you’ll ascend steps to enter the home from the front door (like so many churches). The floor structure is two feet, then if we say the first window is 4 feet off the floor, you essentially, on the exterior, don’t have a window start until 12 feet up (and even then I’m keeping them small). In the great room, which is two stories (the first floor will be 12 foot ceilings, others 10 foot ceilings), I’m putting in very large gothic windows with buttresses between them, but they’re not going to start until 8 to 10 feet off the floor (on a 24 foot ceiling height), so while they’ll be large windows, on the exterior they’ll still be 16+ feet off the ground. And they’re on one of the back sides of the house, facing state forest, not the public side of the house.

And yes, we’re are going tall. Our footprint, not counting the towers, is just a 40×60 keep. This section will be three stories tall. 6 feet off grade, plus two feet for the floor, plus 12 feet for the first floor, two more feet for the floor, 10 feet for the second floor, two more feet for the floor, 10 feet for the third floor, two feet for the roof, 6 feet for the battlements. The wall height of this section should be 50 feet.

We’re doing a four tower structure, the two front towers will be slightly smaller and have 4 stories with conical roofs, the back towers will be 5 stores with crenelated roofs, maximum wall height off grade including the battlements is going to be around 74 feet.



We are going tall both because it looks more like a castle, and once you get up high you’re allowed more windows (in fact, the tops of the towers will be all windows, as they should be. Once you get that high a tower without windows for full range of view isn’t fulfilling the purpose of a tower). But also to maximize our view. We’re on the summit of a ridge, but it is wooded. If we clear the immediate area of the summit our goal is to have the building high enough that we get the view above the trees lower on down.

Of course, going this tall necessitated us finding land not covered by a homeowners association, which was difficult, but ultimately we found the perfect lot.



  1. Kaylin Mason says:

    Oh can you design my castle? And send me an email of the sketches?
    So tall with some towers, stairs obviously, drawing room, family room, kitchen, great hall, bathroom (quite a few), bedrooms (maybe 6) – It is my dream to live in a castle…love castles I do, I find them a break from reality, and this can be a modernised one? A gallery, a room for drawing and writing and a library.

    Hope this is cool, please I want to see what you’d come up with, and my favourite colour is purple just so you know.

  2. Do you have floor plans for each level so we could see the layout of the complete castle?

  3. William LeFave says:

    You are basically making my childhood dreams here. I would love to see the rest of your floor plan. If this would be alright with you please let me know if not I understand this is your home after all.

  4. Serge Huybrechts says:

    Very exciting and promising project, if I may say so, Ishmael.

    I stumbled upon it doing research for a project at the architectural departement of the University of Antwerp, and especially the overall design and the techniques applied have taken my interest.
    But what’s even more exceptional is the way that you realize your vision, you follow your dreams but think things through. It sounds very familiar to a project I’ve been working on myself for a stairless multi-floor-house (building will start next year).

    I wish you the very best, and hope it will be finished in time. And maybe I will see it glancing at the hilltop as we are passing through on our family-holiday next summer… :-)

  5. I came across your castle while looking for Racoon Mtn to do some mountain biking this weekend..looks incredible! (would be nice to find a gem like this every time I get lost)

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