Built for a lifetime: Custom homes for everyday living
One of these homes was built for empty nesters who wished to downsize. The other is currently a vacation home, but will be a primary residence when the owners retire. The homes have more in common than you’d think.
One-of-a-kind custom homes, by definition, are unique in style, floor plan, details, and the way they express the owner’s personality. But custom-home clients today are taking a longer view. What starts out as a second home can easily evolve into a primary residence, with such characteristics as an open floor plan, numerous bedrooms and baths for family members and guests, and plenty of outdoor space for relaxing and entertaining.
More often than not, the main living areas are on the first floor so that climbing stairs won’t be an issue for the owners as they age. Energy efficiency and low maintenance are essential, especially for clients that travel frequently or use the home only part of the time.
Even though the owners of these two homes are at different life stages, their ultimate goal was the same: to create a home that would serve their needs now and far into the future.
Park City, Utah, has long been popular with skiers, but in the last 10 years, its appeal as a summer destination has been growing. “People from the east coast of Florida, in particular, like to spend their summers here because there’s no humidity,” says Chris Quinton of Cameo Homes, a Park City-based custom builder. “The temperature averages 72 degrees, so it’s ideal for golfing, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, and other warm-weather activities.”
Cameo Homes recently designed and built a 5,800-square-foot residence in Tuhaye, a golf-course community within the Talisker Club at Deer Valley. The clients are a couple from Chicago with teenage and college-age children, referred to Cameo by friends who had worked with the builder. Quinton says the Tuhaye home is a vacation home at the moment, but will eventually become a primary residence when the owners retire: “They’ve been spending six months here and six months in Chicago.”
The home has five bedrooms and 41/2 bathrooms. “It’s kind of a free-flowing home with amenities that most people would have in a primary residence, such as a home theater and game room,” he says. “It also has features you wouldn’t necessarily see in a primary residence, such as a spa, a fire pit, large areas for entertaining, and accommodations for guests.”
The main level is open and spacious to allow large groups of people to circulate through the great room, dining room, and kitchen. The master suite and den are also on this level.
The lot’s natural grade made it ideal for a walkout basement. On this level is a 19 x 22-foot recreation area, a wet bar, an eight-seat home theater, two bedrooms, and two baths.
Cameo positioned the house to capture views of mountains, the Deer Valley Resort, and the 18th fairway of the Tuhaye Golf Course. Quinton estimates there are approximately 2,000 square feet of decks and patios, including a private covered deck off the master bedroom and a large covered deck off the dining room and kitchen. There’s also an outdoor kitchen.
“The home has a very comfortable, open feel for its size,” he says. “The main level is 2,800 square feet, but it lives more like 4,000.”
A zoned, high-efficiency HVAC system allows the homeowners to heat or cool designated areas. “There are four radiant heat zones and three different forced-air heat zones,” Quinton says. “The forced-air system is only used for bringing the heat up fairly quickly when they first get into town, until the radiant heat kicks in.” Humidification and air-exchange systems ensure comfort and good air quality.
Some spaces are vaulted, such as the great room with its 18-foot ceiling, but 10-foot ceilings are the norm in most parts of the house. Quinton says the 21/2-story great rooms that used to be the rage have fallen out of favor because homeowners don’t want spaces that are inefficient to heat and cool.
The builder used simulated shake roof shingles for the first time on this project. The 100-year shingles, paired with copper accents, make for a durable, low-maintenance roof, Quinton says.
Before the housing-market decline, Cameo’s hard costs ran from $400 to $500 per square foot. Today, the range is $200 to $300, depending on the level of finish, and profit margins are tighter. But referral business is steady, says Quinton: “We’re going to be building for another of the clients’ friends from Chicago.”
The predominant architectural style of the homes on Austin’s Lake Travis is what builder Doug Casey calls “Texas Tuscan.” So when an empty nester couple decided to build a 2,600-square-foot contemporary home on the lake, Casey and architect Donovan Davis wanted to make sure it would blend into the landscape while retaining its clean, simple lines.
The clients were nearing retirement and downsizing from their previous home in Fort Worth, says Davis, president of Danze & Davis Architects, Austin. “They had a nice collection of architectural furnishings as well as blown and fused glass, and we wanted to complement that,” he says.
Davis knew there would be lake views from the rear and at the highest point on the property. “But when we saw the way the street falls off in front of the house, we realized the clients would have even better views from a roof deck over the garage,” he says. This vantage point affords 270-degree, southwestern views of the lake that will never be obstructed.
The couple wanted their home to have plenty of natural light to illuminate the interior during the day without having to switch on a lamp. They also required a guest bedroom on the main floor, at the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom, and a kitchen that was open to the living and dining area. Amenities such as a home theater and an outdoor kitchen weren’t on their wish list, but they did want a reading loft with built-in bookshelves. Davis put this room on the second floor, where it has direct access to the roof deck.
Cantilevers are part of the design motif, Davis says. “We cantilevered all the roofs so as not to block the views. There are no columns.”
Unlike some contemporary homes, this one has warmth. “With the cantilevered roofs and the open staircase, it almost feels like it’s floating,” he says. The front elevation is a combination of stone, stucco, and ipe — a dense Brazilian wood that is rot-resistant as well as beautiful.
“The stone was quarried nearby, so it blends right in with the natural limestone,” says Casey, owner of Casey Homes, Lago Vista, Texas.
“The wood ties in with the trees, and we painted the stucco in muted colors to give the home a nice, soft feel.”
Casey’s wife, a glass artist, collaborated with the clients on the interior design.
“Normally, we would caution people about white walls because they can look kind of clinical and stark, but in this case the white acts as a backdrop and makes the glasswork pop,” he says.
The size of the interior spaces called for large spans, and the ceiling was also the roof, “so we had to make sure our trusses were designed to carry the load and not have any deflection,” Casey says. “We specified the trusses as if they were steel, with a deflection of over 600 as opposed to, say, the more typical 360.”
Hard costs were $113 per square foot overall and $160 per square foot for the air-conditioned space. “For what we put into this house, I think it was pretty cost-effective,” he says.