On a mission: Finishing a showpiece in Fairbanks
One couple's hobby becomes a home
Story by Mara Severin • Photography by Arctic Edge Photography
For many homeowners, a "do it yourself" project might mean painting a wall, installing some tile or sewing some curtains. For Bev and Roger Floerchinger, who did a painstaking Craftsman-inspired, by-hand remodel of their spacious Fairbanks home, "do it yourself" means something else entirely.
Roger and Bev Floerchinger
TESCO Lighting; Brown's Electric
Kraus Mendoza Collection in Brazilian Cherry, MacCheyne's CarpetsPlus, Inc.; installed by Doug and Dennis Diem, Square D Construction
Hardwood on ceiling
Armstrong, MacCheyne's CarpetsPlus, Inc.; installed by Dave Dillard, 321 Construction, Inc.
Lumber and plywood (for bar cabinets, register covers and wainscoting)
Sapele Mahogany, Superior Hardwoods
MacCheyne's CarpetsPlus, Inc.; installed by Doug and Dennis Diem, Square D Construction
Granite countertops and backsplash
Black Galaxy (kitchen), Rainforest Marble (wine bar) and Crema Bordeaux (powder bath), installed by Alec Turner, Alaskan Granite & Exterior Works
Dura Supreme (kitchen); KraftMaid, The Plumbing Showcase (wine bar); Kohler, Spenard Builders Supply (powder bath)
Thermador, Allen & Petersen
Bosch and GE Monogram, Sears; KitchenAid and Viking, Allen & Petersen
Holcam, Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
Pebble tile Solistone in Black Sea Minor, MacCheyne's CarpetsPlus, Inc.; installed by Doug and Dennis Diem, Square D Construction
Kohler, Ferguson Enterprises, Inc.
Special thanks to Bill Merritt
A four-level, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home on a sizeable lot – this is not your weekend cabin project, but a project that unfolds over several years. This is the kind of project that requires patience, know-how and talent. And the results are spectacular.
The family that sands together…
Roger and Bev's shared passion for woodworking and, specifically, for the Arts and Crafts school of design, is in their individual DNA. Bev grew up in the Northwest part of Montana, which saw the Craftsman movement gain momentum after the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived. "The area was filled with bungalows," says Bev, who has loved Frank Lloyd Wright since she was in high school.
Roger, who also grew up in Montana, comes from a family of talented recreational woodworkers ("it's the family hobby," he says), so his love for the Arts and Crafts style is directly tied to his love for the wood. "I'm inspired by the style's simplicity," he says. "It really shows off the wood." The quarter-sawn oak that is traditionally used is one of his favorite materials. "It's a fun wood to work with because oak is very stable, but it's not so hard that it's brittle." Plus, he says: "It takes stain really well and it's just very pretty."
And the couple shares another compatibility, says Bev. "He likes to build but hates to do the finish work. And I love that part – the finishing, the polyurethane – so it really works out. We make a good team."
A room with many roles
The most challenging room – and the couple's favorite – is alternately called the bar, the den, the library, and the family room, depending on who and when you ask. "That room required the most shop time," says Roger, "because it had to be taken down to the bare floor." Complicated wiring to accommodate the television, stereo and other electronics was done by a professional, admits Roger, but the rest of the work was theirs.
The room has never had a formal name because it seems to offer something different to everyone. "Before we had the living room and den remodeled," says Roger, "if you had a crowd, they would gather in the foyer and entry way." Now, he says, this multi-purpose room is a kind of magnet. Warm wood tones, sleek leather seating and an inviting wet bar with stained glass details, all create a club-like atmosphere that tempts you to grab a seat and stay awhile. "It's a great intimate space. We poured a lot of passion into the room and it shows."
For Bev, she loves that the room shows off the couple's playful side. Especially the martini-shaped sink in the bar – complete with an olive-tipped faucet. "We like to have fun and have people over," she says. "This room says that."
Celebrating the cellar
More evidence of the couple's love for entertaining can be found below-stairs in the couple's wine cellar. "You walk down these stairs and it looks like you're walking into a dungeon," says Roger. "It's intriguing and it's not a common thing for Fairbanks," he says.
The cellar had been started by the previous owners and the Floerchingers decided to finish the space. Their love for wine developed along with the cellar. "It looks a lot better full than empty," jokes Roger.
"It's the tiniest but most expensive room in the house," says Bev.
Wild on the outside, elegant within
The formal, sunken living room took on a total transformation to better suit the family. "There was white carpet in there," says Bev. "We're always on the go so we're a shoes-on kind of house." The carpet was replaced with a gleaming cherry-wood floor.
The generously proportioned, handcrafted oak mantle with the hand-stained granite hearth is the perfect marriage of elegant craftsmanship and Alaskan glamour. Museum-quality trophies from Roger's many hunting trips add to the sense of place. The sheen of the wood, leather mission-style chairs and glass tabletops pick up and reflect the flood of sunshine that pours in through the room's wall-to-wall windows.
And the view onto the couple's expansive lawn is worth illuminating. Recently, Bev enjoyed watching a pair of young foxes teasing and playing with a moose calf while its mother looked placidly on. Watching the wildness of Alaska from the refined interior of this elegant home represents a unique luxury in Northern living.
Constructed with love, remodeled with care
While the couple's shared gifts allowed them to do a tremendous amount of work themselves, they did have the input of a good friend who has had a lot of influence on this exhaustive project. "What he brings to the table is what I lack," says Roger,"which is patience. Good woodworkers have tremendous patience, so he's an inspiration to me."
When the original owners and builders of the home (Dean and Lori Clowers of McKinley General Contractors) decided to relocate to Anchorage, they told Bev they wanted to reconstruct the same house in their new location. So it's clear the house was originally conceived and built with a lot of care and love. Roger and Bev's detailed and personal renovation carries on this tradition. "It has such great bones and was so well-built," says Roger. "I wanted to give the house what it deserved."