Story by Stacey Freed | Photos by Joseph Hilliard
All because of a magazine. Tony Walker admits that until he ran across a copy of Timber Home Living
, he and his wife Susan were content in their lakeside cabin. But the timber frame
bug bit him hard, and he told Susan that if they were to ever build a home it would be a timber frame. She agreed.
They liked the rustic ambiance of wood homes, as well as the open expression of the timbers and the architectural details they saw in the photographs.
“He spent hours researching and doing homework,” Susan says — Googling images and scouring Pinterest and Houzz for examples of timber homes. “Fortunately we have similar tastes, and we’re still married and were able to get through this process,” she adds with a laugh.
To start, Tony and Susan picked out a one-acre site on an Arthur Hills-designed golf course in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where they had both grown up and been high school sweethearts. From there, the 18-month building process began with Tony contacting British Columbia-based Canadian Timberframes
. See also Hands-on Home: Kentucky Timber Home
“I didn’t think I could find someone local to do this,” Tony says. They met with Jeff Bowes, President of Canadian Timberframes
, and described their wants and needs for something that would fit the site, but also be unique and something rustic yet elegant. “We’re laid back,” Susan says, “but I like a little sparkle, a little bling. I even had a chandelier I’d bought and had stored in my mother’s garage. I told Tony we needed to have a house to put it in.”
Bowes showed Tony several plans done by Kelly & Stone Architects
. “Clients often tell me that they like a particular plan, but then say, ‘I’d switch this and put my master on this side and the garage over here and move the kitchen to the front.’ The house is gone at that point,’” Bowes says. “What they’re responding to is the architect’s style. Tony trusted me, and I knew from what I was hearing that we needed to get architect Tim Stone involved. They wanted something that looked like it grew there; something that matched the topography and their lifestyle.”
And that’s exactly what they got. The nearly 6,000-square-foot house with a walk-out basement (and garage-top man cave) is the couple’s full-time residence. It was important to them to have a home that felt comfortable.
“That’s the biggest compliment,” says Susan, who now works part-time as nurse and enjoys entertaining. “I love it when visitors tell me that the home is cozy, homey and warm feeling.”
Tony, who still works full-time at the financial services company he started 30 years ago, loves to golf. When he’s not, he and Susan spend a lot of time on their deck overlooking the golf course.
In fact, the course helped drive the site decision, which became the biggest building challenge. “We wanted the house to blend in with the course rather than the other nearby house lots,” Tony says. “But we didn’t want to obstruct the feel [of the area] for the neighborhood, so we sited our house down the hill, closer to the course.”
In this way, the best view of the house, Tony says, is from the links. Locating the house midway down a steep hill did require a hefty amount of driveway engineering to create three “s” turns that wind down to where the house sits. Once that was done, Canadian Timberframes
stained and lacquered the circle-sawn rough-finish timbers in its mill, “built” the home in its computers and pre-notched everything. See also Luxury Lodge Inspired Timber Frame Home
They then sent a tech rep to Bowling Green to direct local builder Jerry Stokes and framer Kenneth Keltner. “In a week, the timber frame was up and then we helped them get started on our wall and roof systems and on to more common construction practices,” Bowes says. The roof system
, the wall system and the windows are Douglas fir with aluminum cladding. There are exterior timber decks and stairs and timber work in the basement instead of steel beams and columns. In all, there are more than 600 timbers. Stone designed what he calls a “relaxed” floor plan that’s large and open.
“All the timber on the interior is doing the work; none of it is decorative,” he says.
Outside there’s a lot of exterior living space. “In Kentucky, bugs can be gnarly and the Walkers wanted a screened-in porch off the kitchen; it’s one of the key exterior design elements.” Stone’s signature is seen in the home’s many details — the varied rooflines, living room chord trusses, the dining room’s curved wall of glass and special touches like the steel knife plate connection between the beams and stone columns at the front entry.
The great room boasts a double sided fireplace — with built-in TVs, one on either side — that serves two rooms. With no interior walls in the open public space, there’s no need for art. The outdoor scenery is an ever- changing backdrop. “We wanted to walk in and have it be breathtaking,” Tony says. They both feel, as Susan says, “so blessed and lucky to be in a home like this.”
Square footage: 6,000
Architect: Kelly & Stone Architects, 970-875-0590; kellyandstonearchitects.com
Builder: Jerry Stokes Construction, Inc., 270-782-3253
Upper Level/Garage Loft