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HOME & DESIGN — HOUSE OF DIFFERENT STRIPES
By Donna Andrews Russell

January 2007




When Barb and Byron Huddleston give directions to their new home, they don’t bother with the house number. "Just look for the stripes," they tell visitors.

The banded brick and roof, however, aren’t the only elements that make their home a neighborhood standout. There’s also its unique, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired contemporary design, the frosted glass in the motor-court doors that glows like a Japanese lantern at night, and the two-and-a-half story window on the stairs.

The Huddlestons made the move from Plainview to Summit Ridge last April to be nearer to their 10-year-old son Chris’ school. They knew what they wanted designed into their new home: a flowing, uncluttered layout; a kitchen where the family of three could comfortably work together; a dining room that would do double duty for daily meals and formal entertaining; and lots of windows across the back for enjoying the view of the woodland protection zone in back. "We also knew we wanted something contemporary — something wild and different," Barb recalls, "and a friend recommended we talk to Jim Peterson."

While the couple easily bought in to using two different brick colors to create the duotone exterior walls, when the louisville architect/builder suggested the striped roof, Barb was afraid things had gotten a bit too wild. Seeing a sample of the weathered wood and black shingles, however, allayed her fears and now she loves her striped roof. "It adds an artistic touch without being too obvious," she says.

Similar Peterson touches grace the home’s 3,700-square-foot interior. The foyer, for example, features a red Venetian-plastered curvilinear wall that serves as a buffer between the front door and living room and provides a colorful backdrop for the Huddlestons’ new grand piano. Rather than being built-in, the guest coat closet sits on wrought iron legs — a contemporary take on an old-fashioned chifforobe. Rich Brazilian cherry inlays create stripes on the naturally finished quartersawn oak floor.

 
Great panes: the home’s "Japanese lantern" motor court and pass-through window between kitchen and dining room.

On the staircase, randomly spaced iron pickets add a whimsical touch to the balcony landing with its front-yard view. In the living room, maple, wrought iron and slate tiles create a wall that sleekly incorporates a fireplace, big-screen TV and lighted alcoves with art and musical instruments on display. Floor joists wrapped in drywall form an unusual beamed ceiling in the dining room, while rosy-hued copper-glass and copper-laminate cabinets and Bordeaux granite countertops lend warmth to the kitchen.

Aesthetics, however, are only part of the home’s appeal. The whole house is designed around the Huddlestons’ desire to simplify their lives. A major case in point: Barb’s "decontamination chamber" leading in from the garage. More than a mudroom, the chamber includes a bench for removing shoes and boots; hooks for backpacks; a large walk-in closet for outerwear, sports equipment and athletic shoes; drawers in the adjoining laundry area for sorting mail and school papers; and a shredder for getting rid of unwanted junk mail. Barb says the concept originated with her mother, who used to lament that she needed a decontamination chamber to keep her children’s shoes, coats and books from migrating all over the house. "It makes the kitchen easier to work in because all that stuff doesn’t end up on the counters," Barb says. Byron appreciates the way it keeps his personal closet much less cluttered. "I don’t have a closet full of coats and athletic shoes," he says.

The Huddlestons’ keep-it-simple philosophy is also reflected in the kitchen’s design, which "works like a finely tuned machine," says Barb. A large central island divides the room into two distinct zones — one for cooking and one for drinks and serving. Each zone has its own sink, dishwasher and refrigerator — full-sized for the cooking area and a small undercounter model in the drinks area — as well as conveniently placed storage for all the necessities.

 
Insets throughout: the built-in china cabinet in the dining room (top ) and lighted cubbies in the master bath (top right) and living room (left).
"At our old house, we used to get in each other’s way waiting in line at the dishwasher," says Byron. "Now, there’s one for the pots and pans and one for the dishes. They’re super-easy to unload because all the storage cabinets are right beside them, all of them below countertop level so there’s no stretching or reaching." A pass-through window between the drink bar and the dining room makes clearing the table "a snap," he adds. "We just pick up the plates and turn around and set them in the pass-through."

Another example of how careful planning has made the family’s life easier is the master suite’s design. Byron’s job carries odd hours, so the bedroom walls are well-insulated, allowing him to sleep undisturbed while the rest of the family go about their daily routines. With the Jack ’n’ Jill-type master bath, Barb and he have their own sides — complete with a vanity, commode and closet — and share only the spacious corner shower. By locating Byron’s side farthest from the bedroom, Barb isn’t awakened by late-night or early-morning comings and goings.

Finally, there’s the sloping back yard. While most suburbanites opt for wooden decks, the Huddlestons find them too high-maintenance for their busy lifestyle. "There’s all that sealing and staining, and you have to replace the boards from time to time," says Barb. Plus, decks require railings and "we wanted to be able to bird-watch from our dining room," she adds. Terraced concrete patios allow the family to enjoy the great outdoors, make it much easier to cut the grass and bring plantings up close to the house where they can be appreciated from inside.

In addition to simplifying their lives, the Huddlestons wanted "no wasted space," so several of their rooms serve multiple purposes. The dining room, for instance, is used both for everyday meals and formal entertaining. French pocket doors with sandblasted glass in the window lites can simply be closed to create a more private, intimate setting when guests are coming to dinner. For family meals, the doors are open, allowing them to view the living room TV.

Barb’s home office/sewing room was designed so it can easily be converted to a mother-in-law suite, should the need arise. Located off a private hall with a full-sized bath, the office is adjacent to a screened porch that could be enclosed to create a private sitting room. In the guest bedroom upstairs, Byron’s office is discretely tucked into an alcove. An extra-deep closet hides his computer tower so only the screen is visible on the desk.

Some of the home’s other unusual design features include an awning window in the shower to allow air to circulate and prevent mold; a glass-block window in Byron’s walk-in closet to bring in natural light; outlets in the laundry room’s utility closet for keeping electrical hand vacs charged; an appliance garage in the kitchen that keeps small appliances off the counters when they’re not in use; and a bird bath created by sculpting a hole in a piece of limestone and positioning the irrigation system to fill it with fresh water every time it turns on.

"It’s so easy to complicate things," says Barb, "but, as someone once said to me, doing simple is hard to do right."

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