No Ordinary House on a Hill
Do you get the same sense that I do when you have to look up at something? Whether its a large person (imposing may be a good word), a mountain (grandiose works here) or even a skyscraper (stately sounds good), there is something about looking up that typically puts our minds in a state of awe. I had that exact impression the first time I drove up to this home in Oconomowoc.
If we actually take a little step back in time youll find some pretty interesting history here, even though the home itself is only around four-years old. You see, as you approach the property and before you even get to look up to see the home, the first thing you come across is a big lofty barn. Not quite your typical old barn, as Ill get to in a minute, but a barn none-the-less.
What originally drew the current owners to this property was actually the prospect of taking this on as a project barn. Yes, weve all heard the term project home, but this was just a bit atypical. It was essentially a mission that this innovative and energetic man decided to take on as his hobby. So he proceeded to turn the lower level of this aged dairy barn into a temperature controlled work shed and storage area. He re-finished the roof and exterior and capped off and cleaned out the two adjacent silos that are still intact. On the peripheral he had the cement retaining walls around the yard wrapped with a custom stone finish. Then as a finishing touch and for the highlight of the exterior, he turned the base of an old Harvestore silo into a Guinness record-book sized planter, circling the entire silo and going 12-feet high with the same custom stone work. Its now graced with an array of flowers and shrubs. His project was well underway.
What he did next would be the envy of anyone serious about having a proper man-cave (or perhaps a mother-in-law quarters, or space for the hired help, maybe a rental property or just a giant party room complete with entertainment area and private living quarters). The 4,000-square-foot ground floor of the barn is complete with hardwood flooring throughout (heated and insulated), new casings and windows and finished with knotty pine car siding all around. Most of this level is clear span all the way to the rooftop, with the exception of a finished mezzanine area that sits above a private living area. The living area consumes about a quarter of the floor space. It includes one and one-half baths (complete with tile flooring and granite countertops), a mixture of cherry wood and pine paneling throughout with a full kitchen, bar, lounge and recreation room (pool table, darts, electronic games and more). This entire area is also insulated and air-conditioned.
Now, as you might imagine, during the months and months while this renovation hobby was going on, there wasnt a whole lot of time for these particular owners to be spending together, if you will. So why not tear down the original farm house that was next to the now fully-functional and modernized barn, and head up the hilly field a few hundred more feet to build a new house that would be a fitting compliment to this renovation work? They might actually be able to see each other once in a while this way. So thats what they did. With a sloping landscape of four+ acres to work with they went about their new venture. They put in a winding driveway, brought in hundreds of new trees, shrubs and flowers beds and with a little professional help they had themselves the picturesque surroundings they were looking for. Add in a building contractor with a personal touch and they knew they could capture the style, grace and character the property deserved. Atop this massive hill they opted to face the house toward the southeast. It now provides for direct exposure all across the front of the home while the sun makes its way across the horizon.
Moving to the top of the driveway youll find a three-car extra deep heated and insulated garage with custom made single wooden doors. As you approach the front entrance from the garage youll step under a lighted breezeway. This is actually the beginning of an eight-foot wide and one-hundred-sixty-five-foot long wrap-around porch finished with an Ipe-wood deck, cedar ceiling and recessed lighting. What a great little accent. When we finally walk through the double mahogany entrance doors, were greeted by a huge foyer with cherry wood walls and a volcano travertine stone floor laid in a Versailles pattern. This same classy flooring actually covers the greater part of the first floor. There is a den/study to the left of the foyer with the same cherry wood walls and a Mandota gas fireplace with an imported granite surround. Are you looking for an open concept? Their massive kitchen is next up and it is the ultimate. The first thing youll notice is a thirty-foot long u-shaped Persian Brown granite countertop top. No need for any upper-level cabinets here as this entire span is supported underneath by Broadmoor cherry fireside cabinets. Theres a Sub-Zero stainless steel refrigerator and freezer, a matching professional stainless steel Wolf double-oven with barbecue grill and exhaust and a set of matching dishwashers on either side of the sink. The back side of the kitchen flows right into a semi-formal dining area with a quaint little nook. This area also opens up to a small outside patio with a perfect western exposure. The center of the kitchen has a double-wide banquette dining area that faces directly into the adjoining great room. Finished off nicely with a gas fireplace, antique marble hand-carved surround and complete media center (with speaker controls for the entire home), your guests will have everything they need right here.
Down the hall youll find the first of two full-size utility rooms, this one includes Sedna granite counter tops and ceramic flooring. Around the corner from this utility room and adjacent to the stairs is one of the more unique features of this homeÑhow about a fully functional elevator? Built to support heavy furniture movement up and down or perhaps for a more seasoned couple that cant use the stairs that well anymore, this is an awesome little touch. Its a Waupaca elevator complete with cherry interior walls.
If we take a ride downstairs well find a finished clear span area that is just crying to have someone spend more time in it. It has yellow pine car siding throughout and a huge exercise room with built in big-screen and surround sound. Theres a classic little bathroom (well not exactly little) with a stand-up shower and one-inch floor tiles. It also has ceramic wall tiles with ribbons cut in along the back wall and built in Walnut cabinets next to a bowl-style Kohler sink. This still leaves for a ton of open space down in this twenty-five hundred square foot area. It could easily be modified to support another entertainment/media room, more bedrooms or play rooms or whatever your fancy.
Lets take the elevator up to the top floor now. Here well find a second full utility room with Santa Cecelia granite countertops. Off of the utility room is a temperature-controlled bonus room that spans over the top of the garage. Fifteen foot paneled cathedral ceilings are a nice touch in here. Making our way back around there are two good-sized private bedrooms down one hallway, each with custom-made granite countertops and ceramic floors. Then there is the nearly three hundred square foot master bedroom with cathedral ceiling and one-of-a-kind Iroko engineered hardwood flooring. The master bath has a two-headed walk-in shower with matching his and hers sink areas and custom ceramic flooring. Theres also another office/den area set off the back of the master bedroom with its own private outside balcony area. Looking for a few extra special features? How about a twenty-five kilowatt propane based generator for the added comfort of unlimited power. There are two one-thousand gallon propane tanks onsite to support the generator and high-efficiency mechanicals. Theres a one-hundred gallon gas tank and five-hundred gallon diesel fuel tank on the property. The insulated walls, heated/insulated floors and fifteen-zone-controlled radiant heat all contribute toward a ridiculously low average utility bill of $200.00. For a seventy-five-hundred square foot home are you kidding me? The list goes on.
For a nice little finishing visualization, lets go back up to the second story. Go into any of the rooms that face the northeast on a clear day and you can see the majestic chapel towers of the church at Holy Hill from fifteen miles away. If youre not familiar with the area its simply a gorgeous sight.