Gaston Gazzette September 2012
Belmont couple builds dream home on Lake Wylie
By Staff Reporter
It was the fall of 2007 and the hair on the back of Doug McSpadden’s neck began to stand up. He jokingly says “his spider senses were tingling.”
Doug and wife Laurie’s company of 20 years had recently completed a wildly successful Homerama project in the Sanctuary on the shores of Lake Wylie and were just weeks away from closing on another expensive lot and breaking ground on a 1.8M spec home.
It took years of work to become a “Featured Builder” with Crescent Communities, and walking away from the deal would mean severing the relationship from the group. But intuition and faith prevailed and that’s exactly what they did. Within months, the luxury residential market began to crumble and it was evident that their company of 9 employees was the next focus.
Beginning in January 2008 and continuing through the next 18 months, Doug and Laurie reduced the size of their organization from nine to two – Laurie and Doug. “This certainly wasn’t what we wanted. It hurt. In a company the size of ours, you don’t have “employees” you’re just one big family. But to save the company, the tough decisions had to be made. And there was some comfort in knowing that we’d started from scratch once so we knew we could do it again.”
The last emergency measure involved selling their multi-million dollar home on Lake Wylie. It was designed to be their “dream retirement home” with all the bells and whistles including 2 ½ acres, more than 1,000 feet of shoreline, 5 bedrooms and 6 ½ baths, swimming pool and spa, an RV bay for a 40 footer, and the list goes on.
“Looking back, we ask ourselves, ‘What were we thinking?’” says Doug. “But at the time, this was the way the luxury market was going and we felt compelled to put the most we could afford on such a spectacular site.”
Then, through what the couple considers nothing short of divine intervention, and prior to actually listing the property, they found themselves with a full price cash offer that not only put them in a debt-free position, but allowed them to lease the house back for 18 months to contemplate and develop their next move.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
The next number of months was spent evaluating their options and planning their future.
“We were empty nesters with a clear vision of how we wanted to live our “next chapter” and realized we weren’t going to pass this way again. So we were determined to design and build a new home that complemented and enhanced our new lifestyle and the next phase of our life experience!”
Click here to take a slideshow tour of the McSpadden's dream home on Lake Wylie.
They call their design style “organic contemporary” – “organic” because of the integration of nature and the out-of-doors with the interior space. And “contemporary” because of its deviation for “the way we’ve always done it.”
The site was a waterfront lot on a quite cove. Working within a pre-determined budget the couple developed a two-level plan consisting of main-level living for the two of them as well as a lower level that could be shut down as needed but housed bedrooms and baths for future use and/or resale.
The design concept was inspired by many of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. A driving force was to integrate the structure with the earth. Large stone walls anchor the home and penetrate through to the inside while horizontal lines of stucco and glass span between.
The entrance to the residence was designed to be a social engagement. The entry garden, water fall and koi pond beg the visitor to stop and ponder for a moment. This provides opportunity for the owners to actually go out and meet their guests and becomes the place where we actually engage before entering the home. This same feature permeates the interior space. It is a feature of the entry foyer and gallery, the guest suite, and even the master bath. It then emerges again as the stage for a social event upon departure and becomes the lasting impression as guests leave.
THE CENTRAL CORE
On the main level, everything is as open as possible. Doors are wide, thresholds were eliminated, and natural daylighting was emphasized. Two suites were situated at opposite ends of the house; the master at one end and a “Flex Suite” at the other which could serve a snoring spouse, special guests, live-in in-laws, health-care givers, get-away room, or formal office.
The central core encompasses all of the main living functions of the residence and is enhanced by extensive interior stone work. A “splurge wall” inspired by ledges and vegetation from climbing and backpacking trips provides the canvas to personalize the space.
There is no formal living and no formal dining. And the home embraces the big screen is a part of daily life. “We think it will soon be the central information and communication tool of the entire home,” said Doug.
The kitchen is centered around a large “social Island” – no appliances. Other universal kitchen design concepts were used throughout so restricted mobility will not be a problem. Brushed rainforest marble adds an organic look and feel to the space. The entire kitchen opens to outdoor living so the family can use the kitchen appliances for outdoor entertaining instead of re-constructing another kitchen in a distant outdoor entertainment area.
The resource center is centrally located and adjacent to the kitchen and wet bar. It is a complete “re-think” of your typical laundry room. It houses all of the essential functions of home management including home server and computer station, network copy center, pantry, broom and central vacuum closet, washer and dryer, dog wash, and enough flexible square footage and table storage to set up a work station in the middle of the room for catering, crafts, laundry folding, etc.
The wet bar has affectionately become known as the internet café. When ever anyone is over, we seem to congregate here. “Not only will we frequently see a multitude of laptops and tablets wirelessly searching and sharing, but the 42” TV is also a computer monitor so the group can enjoy that funny U-Tube clip or innovative web site together,” said Doug.
THE MASTER SUITE
The master suite was appropriately scaled to not waste space but still feel spacious. The use of “Closet Lockers” throughout the bedroom and bath provide a warmth, continuity, and function that improved the quality of the space and eliminated the walk-in closet. A study desk that can double as a make-up vanity or small home management center is a thoughtful addition to the space.
The master bath with its hydronically heated stone floors is barrier free with no shower threshold and nothing to hamper a limited mobility user from accessing his and her toilet areas. Blocking is in place behind the sheetrock for future stability hardware if needed. Cast bronze sink basins set in brown rainforest brushed marble compliment the stone wall and floors. The vanities can be easily modified for a limited mobility user as well. And quite obviously, the glass wall and peaceful private shower garden are the focus of the space and impart a rainforest experience that is guaranteed to relax.
The outdoor waterproof deck is maintenance-free solid PVC and encompasses living, dining, sunning, and spa functions and are all directly associated with the inside using multi-panel commercial stacking sliders and out-swing doors. This type of glazing provides maximum glass with minimal frame and is maintenance free inside and out. The covered “grill grotto” with commercial range hood is a major component of the outdoor space as is the fire table. A small TV for the “grill-master”, well-designed lighting, gas stubs for porch heaters, and pre-wiring for future electronically controlled drop-down phantom screens round out this much-used space.
THE LOWER LEVEL
The lower level living was designed for boomerang kids and holiday stays by multiple family members. There is also unfinished space designed to be a studio apartment should a multi-generational requirement become needed. We used very modest finishes in the Lower Level and figured we could upgrade later if needed. It also houses a separate “RV bay” for all the outdoor toys that go along with an active empty-nester lifestyle.
The home is equipped with 20 Solar Photovoltaic panels which generate about 25 percent of the home’s energy. It also boasts twin solar hot water panels that not only provide the majority of their domestic hot water, but also heat the master bath floors and support the spa. The house is heated and cooled with a geothermal heat pump system, and the walls and ceilings are insulated with spray foam. A back-up generator system with a 1,000 LP tank provides security in the event of power outages. Computer-controlled home management adds convenience, efficiency, and drama to the lighting system of the home.
McSpadden integrated additional design features that improved the performance and efficiency of the home. The lower level rooms were pulled out from below the deck thus eliminating the wasted patio so typical in terrace-level homes. This also created exceptionally bright spaces below with full window walls allowing for smaller bedrooms. Daylighting was important, but the sun’s direct rays were undesirable. With the thoughtful design of the four foot overhangs, indirect sunlight streams through the band of clerestory windows nearly eliminating the need for daytime lights.
The oversized garage, with its glass overhead doors is bright and airy and is amply sized for 3 full-sized vehicles that can open doors without hitting each other! It also is equipped with a breaker sub-panel for easy integration for electric car charging as well as designated spaces for a work bench, trash container, and recycling center.
Future-proofing, adaptability, and aging in place were other major components of the design. The ability to have the residence change as needs change was paramount. Designing space for a future Murphy bed in the guest suite, pre-wiring for electronic screens on the terrace, Roughing in for a future kitchen, bath, and laundry for the lower level in-law suite, designing extra space in the mechanical room for additional energy technologies, and using a 2x2 tile lay-in ceiling in the lower level for ease of access to all mechanicals were just a few of the of the elements that allow this home to span generations of needs.
Zero thresholds, barrier free master bath, low-level toe-kick lighting for nighttime navigation, and a home management system that is controlled by your personal electronic device will serve the aging client well into their senior years.
Outside, the residence smartly encompasses raised organic garden beds, indigenous and drought resistant landscaping including Bermuda grass, hydronically-zoned irrigation system, and preparations for future water harvesting. There is absolutely no wood or paintable material anywhere on the exterior of the house. Doug and Laurie both agree that this is, in fact, the most practical, personalized, artistic, and inspiring space they’ve ever produced.
“We feel blessed to be a part of this awesome community of Lake Wylie and hope to spend the rest of our lives engaged with this most wonderful group of people. Thank you for your friendship and support.”