A Final Build
CATEGORY: More than $1,000,000
HOMEOWNERS: Sam and Carol Williams
BUILDER: Gary Herman, Gary Herman and Associates
The Williamses combined a whole lot of contemporary with a little Southwest to complete their ultimate dream home.
By Tiesha Miller • Photos by Edward Biamonte
Complete Article from 417 Homes
When Sam and Carol Williams built a Highland Springs home more than a decade ago, they planned everything with the intention of it being their last house. But through the years, the list of things they wanted to change grew and grew. Eventually that list became substantial enough that they decided to, one more time, build their last home.
For this one, they knew they wanted the design of the home (both exterior and interior) to be dictated by a long-time friend whom they met by sheer chance. “We met in 1979 in Mexico City in the airport trying to catch a delayed plane back to Springfield,” says that friend and now decorator Rita Michel. “Since then, we’ve become great friends.”
Michel doesn’t have a formal design education but has learned a lot through the years by helping friends and family and by some first-hand experience. She and her husband, who own Jimmy Michel Ford Mercury in Aurora, have built two houses locally, three in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a couple near the Lake of the Ozarks. Having visited the Michels’ homes locally and in Arizona, the Williamses knew Rita was their go-to gal for all things design. She designed everything for them from the 7-foot long, 2-foot tall fireplace in the great room to the custom comforters in the guest bedrooms to the front door. Michel mapped out the layout of the house, though the official plans were drawn up by home designer Dale Peer.
From their old house, the Williamses knew the one thing they had right was the location. Highland Springs was still the neighborhood for them. They found a lot that was on the other side of the neighborhood and began their 13-month build. The new home’s move-in day in January 2007 in the same month that Sam started retirement from his 33 years in the banking business.
The home’s design combines the somewhat unusual mixture of Southwestern art in a largely contemporary home. Much of the art in the home was acquired on the Williams’s many trips to Arizona and other parts of the Southwest. It’s there that they fell in love with artists such as David DeVary, Dave McGary and other artists from the Phoenix Art Group. The couple’s collection really began to grow in the past 10 years, and its pieces have been chosen based simply on what visually pleases them. To bring the varying styles of contemporary and Southwest together, Michel coordinated colors and kept the structure of the home contemporary while accenting it with hints of the Southwest. “I just enjoy mixing the two styles,” Michel says. “I think your home, your furnishing, your art should be something you enjoy. I don’t think their home should be regulated by a certain style. You should be able to mix.” The stone used on the 14-foot walls of the main living space was shipped from Telluride, Colorado. “So often contemporary gives people a cold feeling, and I think using stone like we did with that mass wall brings in a warm element,” Michel says.
The clean lines and the tall ceilings foster an environment where the Williamses were able to use dramatic statements in the main living area without those elements competing or being overwhelming. Dramatic paintings with bright colors set the tone. The use of dark granite, stone and metal are the connecting pieces between the various rooms. The no-pane, no-frame windows span one side of the great room, starting two feet from the floor and going 10-feet toward the ceiling. As commercial-style windows, the 600-pound glass panes were difficult to get (American Glass was the only local company they could find that would do windows of such size). They are now Michel’s favorite detail. All of the blinds in the house are on mechanisms to remotely open and close and are built into the wall to keep with the clean lines and foster the view of the golf course.
The house is 7,370 square feet total. Everything is on one level, with the exception of the basement storage area—one of the must-haves that Carol requested this house have that the old house did not. Both the Williamses and Michel sing the praises of builder Gary Herman with Herman and Associates. Throughout the process, he was willing to try new applications, such as the commercial windows, and adapt to the homeowners’ and designer’s on-the-fly ideas.
Several sitting areas have become the couple’s favorite parts of the home, and one of the most favored of those is the outdoor one. “We like the outdoors, and we just love sitting in our outdoor area,” Sam says. “We just love it. We couldn’t have a better backyard.” Taking advantage of their golf course view, the back porch has three separate seating areas, an outdoor fireplace and a Viking grill. This outside deck has become Gary Herman’s favorite aspect of the house. Railings of metal and glass were custom made by metal craftsman Tim Johnson to facilitate an unobstructed view while still providing a safe railing for the grandkids, Bailey and Cody.
Each of the grandkids picked out a guest bedroom that they call their own. Having a place for family to gather was important, and a formal dining room was another addition to this home from the old one (though Carol admits it doesn’t get everyday use).
In the wing of the house opposite the guest bedrooms is Sam’s office, the laundry room and the master suite. The office is still a work in progress; eventually it will have a full-fledged cowboys and Indians theme. Even unfinished, it gets plenty of use. “He can read his Wall Street Journal and pretend he’s still at work,” Carol jokes.
The master suite has another one of those sitting areas that is frequented. Around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. nightly, the pair will head back to the bedroom where they sit in their matching chairs and catch the news on their mounted plasma TV, which sits next to a fireplace.
These and other innumerable details are what contribute to making the Williamses home one that they’re happy to say really is the last home they intend to build. “I really wouldn’t change anything about it,” Carol says.
View more photos of: 2007 Home of the Year