Windows to the World

• Vaulted ceilings
• Recessed lighting
• A 2-story fireplace
• Tile floors
• Distinctive roofline
• Cedar siding
• Backyard pergolas
• Fairway views
• 4 bedrooms
• 4 1/2 bathrooms
• 2 levels
• 8,000 sq ft of living space

But the most dramatic characteristic of this remarkable golf course home? The windows. An endless array of windows wrap almost seamlessly around the entire structure.

“The most striking feature that makes this home so exceptional is the daylighting,” says Tony Stoll, the architect at BHH Partners in Perham, Minn., who designed the home. “The fact that you can sit in the kitchen, the master suite, the office, the dining room or the sunroom, and in all those rooms you can look out and have views to the fairway.”

Laid out in what Stoll calls a linear fashion – about 90 feet across the front – the L-shaped home was designed to “play to the fairway” and take advantage of both the sun and the golf course.

“I guess you could call the style of the home modern ranch,” he says. “The homeowners wanted something with cleaner, more modern finishes without the museum-type modern feel – a design that would comfortably blend into a northern Minnesota setting.”

Built by Dave Erwin Construction out of Battle Lake, Minn., the home’s modern, wide-open feel is evident immediately. A clear coat finish on the maple floors, maple doors and maple trim adds to the clean look they desired. An abundance of leather furniture and polished wood round out the contemporary design.

“This eye-catching house was fun to build with its clean lines, vaulted ceilings, and especially the numerous windows,” says Erwin, who builds custom homes all over the Otter Tail and Becker County area. “With all these windows, though, you have to engineer the balloon walls differently, keeping it all structurally sound and stable and not letting it do any twisting.”

Beyond the structural concerns are the concerns for the home’s functionality. After owning the lot for several years, the homeowners wanted this retirement home to have more than eye appeal – it also had to fit the lifestyle they envisioned for their future.
Stoll says designing a house to fit a lifestyle is the fun part of his job. He asks many questions, like: What are your main goals? How will you live in this house? How will you entertain? How often will your family visit?
“We like that challenge,” he says, “and in this case we asked those questions, and we also listened to their ideas and looked at images of many of the concepts they envisioned.”

Enhancing the Exterior
The use of pergolas on the outside of the home enhances the dramatic impact of the vaulted ceilings on the inside. These wooden posts with cross-beams combine visual appeal with functionality, offering some protection from the harsh glare of direct sunlight.

“Tony Stoll, at BHH, designed the pergolas with an eye for aesthetics, but also to get some sun protection at certain times of the day,” Erwin says. “It all fits together with the contemporary look and feel of the house.”
Another outdoor feature that could be easily overlooked is the cedar siding. If the truth is in the details, then the laced corners of that siding also keep the lines of the house clean and free of added clutter.

“If you look at the siding, there’s no corner trim on the outside of the house,” Erwin explains. “Instead of taking the easier route of having cornerboards where the siding butts up against each other, this siding is laced, where each individual piece is mitered in a perpendicular manner and basically comes to a point.”
Although it’s very time-consuming because each piece has to be fitted to the piece next to it, when combined with the standing seam metal roof, the exterior reflects the interior in a subtle but effective way.

A Distinctive Kitchen
Pairing maple cabinets with Cambria countertops continues the home’s clean, modern feel into the kitchen. The center island takes the theme to new heights with its unique design and functionality.

“Typically, center islands are built all at one height, and people purchase bar stools so everyone can sit around the island,” says Erwin. “With this island, however, the homeowners wanted it separated into two levels, but still connected as one unit.”

The dishwasher, sink and beverage cooler are on one level, and then it drops down to a lower level for the seating area, which is at table height. That way, standard sized chairs can be utilized around the island.

As the architect observing the construction, Stoll finds there will always be new products, new materials and new ideas emerging from the experience.

“Sometimes I see the homeowners request different kinds of products or systems in the kitchen that I may not have seen before,” he says. “I try to keep an open mind and learn about these new concepts that I can use going forward.”

This isn’t your Grandfather’s Garage
After learning the homeowner wanted a “nice garage,” Stoll designed the oversized area with translucent glass panels, vaulted ceilings, three full garage doors, and another smaller door in the back for a golf cart. “When it was completed, it almost felt like a wide-open greenhouse,” he says.
The vaulted ceiling provided the builder with another innovative way to keep the modern feel and clean lines consistent – even out to the garage.

“Traditionally, the tracks for garage doors would curve back at the same height as the door,” says Erwin. “With the high vaulted ceilings in this very non-traditional garage, those door tracks would have created clutter and become a distraction if they were suspended from the high ceiling in the middle of the room.”

So they decided to go in a different direction. Instead of garage doors that immediately curve back onto tracks, Erwin was able to order the tracks for these garage doors that go straight up the high wall.

“When you hit the garage door opener button,” he says, “the door goes straight up and then curls back against the ceiling, so there are no tracks ‘hanging’ in the garage.”

Measuring Success
Relationships between the architect, the builder and the homeowners are important elements to success. Erwin says that as a builder, he takes pride in the quality of his work and in his continuing relationships with the owners of the many homes he’s built since he went into business as Dave Erwin Construction 13 years ago.

“We put the same level of quality into each project – no matter the price of the house,” he says. “But of utmost importance is that I end up on good terms with the homeowner after the house is completed. That’s when I know I’ve done a good job.”

Erwin is proud to say that he has retained a strong friendship with these homeowners after the completion of this home. “I would hope that I come out of every other house I build with the same kind of relationship,” he says.

Stoll adds that with every architectural project, he feels he has “hit it out of the ballpark” if he designs something the homeowners will love to live in. When a project is completed, he asks himself three questions;

1. Is the homeowner satisfied?
2. Am I satisfied?
3. Is the builder satisfied?

“I would tell Dave that as the builder, he’s last on that list,” Stoll says with a laugh, “but what’s most important is that the homeowner is FIRST on that list. After this couple moved in, I met up with them, and they talked about how much they enjoy driving into the driveway, and each of them smiling and thinking, ‘I live here!’ I’m glad that I was able to design a house where they truly want to live.” ~L&H

by Patrice Peterson
photos by Studio Three Beau

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