A Hidden Treasure by Timothy Jay
The City of Mequon is typically not the place where one expects to find hidden treasure, at least not in the middle of a large subdivision. But here we are, just a few blocks away from Virmond Park and the shores of Lake Michigan and less than five minutes away from I-43 in Beechwood Farms subdivision. With all the amenities of the flourishing Mequon community right at their fingertips, the owners of this property enjoy having the best of both worlds. They have gotten so comfortable with the serenity that their modest lot (just short of one-acre) has to offer, that they rarely visit their second home up north any longer.
After having heard and read some of the details on this home, I was a bit surprised when I first pulled into this subdivision of lovely homes with generally open surroundings. My second turn toward Barkwood Court brought me to an abrupt stop as I had to wait for three deer to cross the road (in broad daylight mind you, and they clearly were in no hurry). Apparently there is no shortage of several different animal species in what the owner calls wildlife central; although the backyard of this property is actually protected by an eight-foot mesh fence (you`ll still be able to see the little creatures, just not so close they would nibble on all your plants).
Approaching the end of the cul-de-sac to our destination, you finally get a sense of what I mean by hidden. This home may not exactly have the visibility some might expect for a property in this price range and in this area. What you will find though, is a home that while mostly obscured by trees, is deceptively larger than it appears (approximately 6,700-square-feet of living space including the finished lower level), and is also loaded with features, character, quality workmanship, a meticulously landscaped yard and so much more. I suppose if someone really wanted more of that curbside visual appeal, they could clear out all of the trees from the front yard and expose a little more of the cedar shake rooftop, colonial roof lines, the all-brick exterior finish, the freshly blacktopped circular drive leading to a four and one-half car heated garage or the inlaid brick walkway leading to the front porch. But clearly that`s not what these homeowners were looking to do. What they do have is this little diamond hidden in the woods.
The construction of this home was originally completed in 1998 by a commercial developer named David Lowe, who sub-contracted the entire job himself. He ended up carrying over many of his commercial practices into this residential structure and was intent on crafting the design for this home so that it would be equally impressive to both an artist and an engineer. We`ll get back to some of the engineering features and more on the interior shortly, but after having surveyed the entire home and property, it is hard not to start out by highlighting the atmosphere of the backyard and patio. You can access the backyard via either a gated walkway off the drive, a fully screened-in porch area adjacent to the kitchen dinette (or morning room) or through a set of sliding glass French doors directly off the morning room itself. What was once nearly an acre of honeysuckle plants is now a professionally designed botanical masterpiece. Developed and maintained by the people at Classic Gardens, this yard now includes a number of hand-built stone flower boxes with natural and wild flowers of all varieties, dozens of different species of trees, a two-tiered stone tile patio and two fresh water ponds equipped with circulating pumps. Stone pathways allow you to wander through the yard like you`re in a greenhouse. There is a permanent gas line that runs from the house to the back of the patio so you never have to worry about exchanging the propane tank on the grill and a huge stone fireplace on the far end (beside the second pond and adjacent to the master bedroom). Just for a little added pleasure during any season, there`s an eight-person hot tub on the opposite side of the patio. And just to make sure everything stays green, there are automated sprinkler systems in place in both the front and back yards. Once here, you lose complete sight and sense of how close to the city you really are. The thick tree line blocks most of the sound from nearby Lake Drive to the east, and even though you can`t really see to the back of the lot anyway, the south end of the property is bordered by a wetland-protected plot so you will never have to worry about your privacy being encroached.
Stepping back into the home, we pass back through the morning room with its vaulted ceiling and custom-plaster designed walls into the kitchen. This completely re-modeled space now features granite countertops, brand new cabinets and state-of-the-art appliances. There`s an additional countertop against the far wall, and even more cabinet space available
thanks to a large island/breakfast nook with a built-in vegetable sink in the center of the room. Before we make our way down to the lower level we`ll peak into the heated garage just to catch sight of the textured oil-resistant floor, insulated walls, cable TV and wash tubs with hoses in case you need a little private man-cave or just want to wash your car in the cozy indoors. Across from the first floor laundry/mudroom is the lower level staircase.
The lower level features a full-size recreation room with built-in bookshelves, a cut-out area with a wall-mounted big screen for a little entertainment and another cut-out area, the size of a small closet, but perfectly sized for a cozy little wine cellar. There`s a fully functional kitchen and a Travertine-tiled full bathroom adjacent to a large bedroom with an egress window. Then there`s a fully-mirrored workout room with cork flooring and more closets and storage space than anyone could ask for. This is what basements were meant to be like.
Back upstairs, we find an impressive formal dining room adjacent to the spacious foyer. On the opposite side of the foyer is a family room that could also second as either a den or office with a built-in entertainment center. The formal living room, decorated mostly in pure white, is almost 500-square-feet and features a grand fireplace and custom built-in shelving. As cozy as this room is, you can`t help but be drawn to the huge windows on the south side that look out over that gorgeous landscaping in the backyard. Heading down the hall we pass a powder room on the way to the master bedroom. The lavish master suite features a bedroom-sized walk-in closet and a quaint little sitting area, again looking out over the yard. The climax of this room however, is clearly the deluxe bathroom, featuring a fifteen foot granite countertop with double vanity sink, custom built Corian walk-in shower and a sunken whirlpool tub accented by skylights from above. Up on the second level you will find three over-sized bedrooms and two full baths which by the way, like ALL of the bathrooms in the home, have been completely refinished with new tile, countertops, decorative sinks and wall finishes, and more.
Some of the other engineering extras that were put into the home include the following: nine-foot high poured basement walls eighteen inches thick; dual sump pumps with copper tubing; industrial strength phone and alarm systems; a program-controlled backup electricity generator with an automated functionality testing option; a reverse osmosis drinking-water system; a reinforced floor joist system for squeak-free floorings on the main level; cedar storage closets in the lower level and on the main floor; triple-layer crown molding throughout; California-style closet systems in every bedroom and more.
Currently being listed by Barbara Young of Shorewest Realtors, they had said it would be difficult to find a wooded lot at the end of cul-de-sac anywhere in Mequon. They also said it would be difficult to find a combination of interior character, style, spacious luxury and class along with an unparalleled landscape masterpiece in an area like this. I guess they just weren`t looking closely enough.