When it comes time to building a home, many are focused on countertops, flooring and other finishes that will bring to life their personality through the design of their home. But why not dare to be different? Adding some unique characteristics and features to your home, while they can be implemented later, are typically much easier (and less expensive) to do from the outset. Here are just a few of the things area builders and architects have done in recent years to add character to the homes they design and build.
• For Creekside Construction in Coeur d’Alene, they recently completed a home that utilized its garage rooftop as a patio—something that is a perfect solution if you have limited yard space or live in the heart of the city yet love to relax outside during the warm weather months. Some of the best benefits of a rooftop patio include beautiful sunsets and privacy. Want even more privacy? White lattice planted with vines will add to a wonderful outdoor entertaining space! If you enjoy gardening, don’t let the idea of a rooftop patio discourage you. Decorate the area with containers and add plants, vegetables, and more to your outdoor space.
• Creekside Construction also recently completed an interesting project, a “hangar home”—a home above an airplane hangar. For many private pilots this is a dream come true, allowing them to get up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and maybe take off to places far away for lunch or dinner before returning home for the evening. For many in North Idaho, this has become a very popular feature as we see more and more people calling this area their home away from home.
• Matt Kerr and Eric Owens are partners at Sayler • Owens • Kerr Design Studio in Sandpoint and are involved in many unique projects. Living in North Idaho, much of their work also involves making the most of the natural beauty of the great outdoors and utilizing it both indoors and out.
In what they refer to as the Loon Lake Residence, they designed a bridge that spans from the parking area across a shallow, tree-filled ravine leading to the front door of the home.
“The owners wanted it to feel light even though the span required steel,” said Matt. “We used an open grate for the floor of the bridge so as you walk across you can look down into the ravine and see the undergrowth. This inspired the owners to ask for an organic railing to complement the experience of being in the tree canopy.”
Matt and Eric sketched out a four-foot section of overlapping branches and let the metal fabricator go from there. They then created the down-light handrail which not only illuminates the bridge but also the landscape below.
• Another home designed by Sayler • Owens • Kerr sits on the Pend Oreille River and has a unique design of a tree column in the interior.
“The owners are huge Greene & Greene Brothers fans (influential early 20th century American architects) and modeled many elements of the house after the Greene Brothers’ Gamble House in Pasadena,” said Matt. “One of the elements of craftsman-style architecture is the relationship between nature and the built environment, and the owners wanted to bring something organic, some reference to its place on the land. We chose a tree to work with the rock chimney to anchor the living room on this rock cliff in a forest. Once we proposed a natural log column (also at the entry), the owners took that idea and ran with it, creating what looks like an existing tree that we built the house around.”
• North Idaho has amazing places that capture some of the most breathtaking views around. And who wouldn’t want to wake up each day to a view of the mountains and water? While it’s not affordable for everyone to live right on the shoreline, Bruce Wickboldt of Sandpoint Builders recently completed a screen room on Glu Lam stilts, giving the owners of the property breathtaking views of the mountains and water. “It’s like a tall forest lookout tower overlooking the Pend Oreille River,” said Bruce of the unique construction.
• Design ideas do not have to stop at the flooring and fixtures. A few years ago, Aspen Homes designed a home with a copper ceiling in the kitchen. “We really wanted to spice it up,” said Zetta Stam, who along with her husband Todd owns Aspen Homes in Coeur d’Alene. While it is not an inexpensive feature, Zetta shares that there are many ways to integrate this look that are most cost effective than utilizing true copper. With knock-off tiles that have the appearance of copper, many with different unique finishes, this can be a great option for people on a limited budget who would like to incorporate this into their home.
• Feeling a little rushed in the morning while getting ready for work but still want to catch some of the morning news? By integrating a TV behind your mirror that is fully accessible with the remote, you can do both at the same time. This is becoming an increasingly popular feature and one that is relatively easy to achieve. The TV in this design by Aspen Homes is housed in the master closet adjacent to the master bathroom. Its components are hidden but easily accessed through a compartment in the closet.
• Whether it is the ocean waves or the trickling of a waterfall, the sound of water can be soothing. While we all cannot have beachfront homes, we can bring the sound of water into our home through an interior water feature. This feature by Aspen Homes is one that many home owners have incorporated into their home not only for the soothing sound of the water but also as an artistic feature as well.
• Brandon Johnson of Affordable Custom Builders in Coeur d’Alene shares that his company’s most recent fresh ideas have come from Millennials wanting to show their love for man’s best friend. “We learned that 89 percent of those Millennials who bought a home this year owned a pet,” said Brandon. “So we decided to incorporate a couple pet-friendly ideas into their lives. We started with some pocket doors made for dogs but of course would work well for those with toddlers, too. Since adopting these concepts, most of our clients we share these ideas with add a similar feature to their custom home.”
• Affordable Custom Builders also had a request to incorporate a safe doggy door access. “We really liked this idea because it allows the pets to enter at their own will but prevents intruders from gaining access to your home without ending up in ‘the klink’ themselves,” said Brandon. “It’s essentially a kennel location under a utility room cabinet base. Very simple, yet functional, and looks great!”
• Another increasingly popular feature in North Idaho is a request for hidden gun rooms or vaults. Brandon said they generally hide these rooms with bookshelves, and they require a fairly complex hinge mechanism and some serious structural reinforcement, but in the end it provides the homeowners peace of mind.
Building or renovating a home provides a unique opportunity to explore various ways to meet your needs with adding something functional, artistic or simply an expression of your own personality with distinctive features. If these or other ideas inspire you, be sure to contact a builder or architect and find out more! They can help you estimate the cost and even provide you with other inspiration. Go ahead … dare to dream!