Native Treasure

Designed and built as a weekend escape for a prominent Indianapolis businessman and his wife, this $2.5 million custom residence beckons its owners to the rolling hills of southern Indiana.

April 01, 2002


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Designed and built as a weekend escape for a prominent Indianapolis businessman and his wife, this $2.5 million custom residence beckons its owners to the rolling hills of southern Indiana. It provides an irresistible invitation to spend their off-time relaxing, horseback riding and entertaining family, friends and business associates in a home that reflects the ownersÆ tastes and lifestyle.


Niches illuminated by recessed lighting abound in this custom weekend retreat in Brown County, Ind., indulging the ownersÆ passion for Southwestern art. ôThe variety of display spaces gives the clients the ability to change their exhibits to suit themselves,ö architect Bill Bernard says. The plaster interior walls are designed to resemble authentic adobe construction.
While the windows across the rear elevation of the Craftsman-inspired home make it possible to enjoy the rural scenery from indoors, the outdoor deck seems to be one of the residenceÆs most popular spots, Bernard says. ôEverybody just seems to congregate there for the view.ö
Hand-carved by a local craftsman, the front door and sidelights of the main entry provide a hint of the transplanted Southwestern dTcor that characterizes the homeÆs interior, builder Bernie Sublette says. Creating the sandstone beltline that accents the lower foundation, as well as the porch and columns, was labor-intensive. ôEach stone was cut to fit on site,ö Sublette says, ôa process that was time-consuming but well worth the look we achieved.ö

Located on a 300-acre site in Brown County, the 6,000-square-foot home has a Craftsman-inspired exterior that harmonizes with its rural setting and a classic cruciform footprint that revolves around a central foyer. The single-story front elevation includes 4-foot overhangs, a low-profile hip roof and a stucco fatade accented at its base by a perimeter of native sandstone.

Step around to the back, and the full drama of the homeÆs design is revealed. Below grade at the front of the house, the lower level is completely exposed to the surrounding fields across the rear to maximize the views of man-made lakes and hilly terrain that add character to the secluded property. A trellis extends along the width of the house and shades the lower-level living space, which includes guest rooms, a spacious family room and a secondary kitchen.

Constructed by brothers Bernie and Mike Sublette, partners in Indianapolis-based SBC Construction, this Heartland retreat features a home theater, radiant floor heating on both levels and a state-of-the-art monitoring system that allows off-site supervision and control of the homeÆs interior environment. A sophisticated reverse-osmosis and ozone-filtration system used in conjunction with a lake well taps one of the three man-made lakes for the homeÆs primary water supply.

Residential designer Bill Bernard, who came up with the plan for this home, says the clients had definite ideas about how they wanted their second home to look. ôMy clients really have a love for the sophisticated, high-style architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, which really works well in this type of setting,ö Bernard says of the homeÆs distinctive exterior.

Inside, however, the clients wanted the design to reflect their passion for the American Southwest. Bernard says his primary focus was to showcase the coupleÆs extensive collection of Southwestern art.

While the two styles blend subtly on the exterior, the Southwestern look reigns supreme inside. A dual-opening fireplace between the living and dining rooms replicates the authentic desert look of a kiva. Other distinctive elements include 6-inch radius-curve sills around the windows and interior walls that taper out at the base to create the battered appearance of authentic adobe construction.

In addition to the living and dining rooms, the main floor includes a galley-style kitchen and a combined master suite/study with his-and-hers office space. ôThis is really designed to function as a one-bedroom, single-level house,ö Bernard says. ôThis way the owners can live entirely upstairs when it is just the two of them there.ö When family or friends visit, the lower level provides comfortable accommodations, plenty of privacy and even a separate kitchen.

The detached, four-car garage features the same style and finishes as the main residence but has carriage house-style garage doors that open conventionally even though they look as if they are designed to swing open.

The man of the house participates in Civil War re-enactments and had a third pond and a separate 2,500-square-foot barn and loft constructed on the property to accommodate his horses.

The house, completed in December 2000, had hard costs of $250 per square foot.

Builder | SBC Construction, Indianapolis

Architect | Bernard Design, Indianapolis

Major Products Used | Appliances: KitchenAid; Sub-Zero; Jenn-Air; Heartland | Cabinetry: custom cherry | Countertops: Corian | Doors (interior and exterior): custom | Exterior Finish: stucco; stone; redwood | Flooring: cherry hardwood | Home Controls/Automation: LiteTouch | HVAC: geothermal | Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler | Roofing: standing-seam copper | Windows: Pella | Floor Joist System: SpaceJoist TE.


The convenience of single-floor living was a key design criterion for the empty-nester homeowners. The galley-style kitchen on the main floor provides all the basics they need for their weekends in the country. The kitchen features custom cherry cabinetry and Corian countertops. The plaster range hood accentuates the Southwestern styling of the kitchen. A central fireplace forms the backdrop for the bed in the master suite and separates the room into two functional spaces, a bedroom and a home office that includes his-and-hers computer space as well as a large sitting area.

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