Handcrafted Haven

A couple’s world travels inspire convenience and comfort in a one-of-a-kind timber frame

Story by Jamey Bradbury • Photography by Glenn Aronwits, GA Panorams

When I travel, the best compliment I can give a hotel is, “It feels just like home!” Strolling through the Stuckagain Heights home of Margot and Kent Field, I had the opposite reaction: Parts of the timber frame house felt distinctly hotel-like – in the best sense of the term.

Ivy & Co. Architects
General contractor
Steve Miller
Interior designer
Peggy McGowan
Timber frame
Jon Gantenbein
Loken Construction
Northland Construction
Architectural finish over exposed concrete
Concrete Cowboys
E/P Roofing
Shingle siding & trim
Frontline Construction
Interior paint & exterior staining
Lane Campbell
Exterior stone work
Arnie Gagnon
Garage door
Pioneer Door
Rick Quinn
landscaping & Outdoor sprinkler systems
Frontier Landscaping
Plumbing & radiant heat
Bowman Mechanical
Electrical contractor, security systems & audio/visual
Power and Light, Inc.
Lighting fixtures
Pat Tomlinson, Brown’s Electric
Alaska Wood Flooring Supply
Windows & doors
JELD-WEN Windows & Doors, Spenard Builders Supply
Kitchen & bath countertops & backsplash
Hard Rock Designs
Kitchen & bath cabinets
Kitchen flooring
Seville marble cork by Wicanders
Kitchen hardware
Kitchen appliances
Spenard Builders Supply; Allen & Petersen
Kitchen island:
The Grothouse Lumber Company
Kitchen pendants
Jezebel Gallery
Powder room cabinets
Dunlap Builders
Bathroom tile work, shower enclosure & powder room basin:
Hard Rock Designs; tile laid by Deas Bode, DK Interiors Alaska
Staircase & railings
Dunlap Builders
Alaska Stairlift & Elevator
Furniture Classics
Metal sculpture over great room fireplace:
Mark Witteveen

“We travel a huge amount, and that’s what I’m comfortable with — hotels,” explains Margot, who started gleaning ideas from home and style magazines at age 15 for her future house. About 10 years ago, when she and her husband finally decided to make their dream home a reality, she was armed with clippings and pictures, as well as a specific, guest-friendly aesthetic.

“Without making it cold and too commercial looking, I wanted to make our visitors feel like they could have their own space and could escape upstairs,” Margot describes, “but also have places downstairs where they could flop down, read a book and not feel like they’re right in the heart of our personal space.”

The house, with its open floor plan, its warm, natural light and its cozy spaces for conversation, is about as far from “cold” as you can get.

Variations on a Theme

Margot and Kent came to architect Mark Ivy with a collection of ideas, but no overall concept for exactly how they wanted their house to look.

“Then, in all their pictures, we found a consistent theme, which was an aggressive roof pitch,” recalls Mark, referring to the steeply sloping roof he designed for the home. Another theme he spotted in the couples’ taste was structured timber, which inspired him to propose a timber frame construction – but one like nobody had ever seen before.

Mark wanted to turn the timbers to mimic the right angle created by the peak of the roof, creating a sort of diamond shape that would become a thematic shape throughout the home. To do so, he brought in Jon Gantenbein, a contractor in Hope who specializes in timber framing.

“He got excited; said he’s never seen this method done before,” says Mark. “So we went on an adventure of seeing if we could create this signature structure specifically for this house.”

The excitement was contagious: “We didn’t originally plan on timbers,” admits Margot, “but it was a beautiful design. It was hard to resist.”

Hidden Kitchen

“We spend most of our time here; we practically live here,” Margot says.

“Here” is an intimate grouping of tasteful chairs and a loveseat that reclines at the touch of a button, all arranged before a reasonably sized flat-screen television. It also happens to be the kitchen.

Visiting guests often have to ask exactly where the kitchen is, says Margot. “And that’s because you look over here and it doesn’t register as a kitchen – it’s more like a family room.”

Once you know to look, you begin to spot the giveaways: two side-by-side ovens, arranged so Margot doesn’t have to reach overhead or bend low when she bakes; an induction stovetop with a custom-made hood that’s “a work of art”; and two dishwashers at opposite ends of the room, both elevated – again, so no one has to bend over to load or unload. The refrigerator and freezer – two separate units – are hidden by cabinetry, and cobalt blue accents distract the eye from the more “kitchen-like” elements.

Other features of the room, though, are meant to be seen, like the countertops, made from Calacatta marble. And some are just fun – and convenient – like the faucets for the three strategically placed sinks, which turn on at a simple touch.

Planning Ahead

“Convenience” is a buzzword around the Field home. They plan to live the rest of their lives in this house, so many features Margot sought to include in the design were chosen with an eye on the future.

“We’re not getting any younger,” she says as she points out the elevator, which the world-traveling couple currently uses to haul their luggage up and down, but will help them avoid the stairs as they age. Meanwhile, in the laundry room, the dryer is raised for easy loading, and mini-jets in a small sink automatically handwash delicate items. They can already enjoy other details, like the heaters that warm two out of five outdoor decks, or the basement room dedicated to gift-wrapping. The master bath features his and her water closets; a tub with heated ends to keep water warm; and a doorless shower with a slat drain and nine computer-controlled nozzles.

The Fields kept their guests in mind too, with touches like low lights in every bedroom that allow visitors to find their way to the bathroom at night without being blinded by overhead lights.

Savvy Solutions

“You’ll notice a lot of the house is open – there aren’t walls where you would expect them to be, and in certain places we have doorways without doors,” Margot says. The openness of the layout allows sound and light to travel throughout the house. “So if we’re having a party and I have to get up just as the great joke is being told, I can still hear it.”

This inviting atmosphere is most evident in the main room, where guests can gather around the fireplace and enjoy the arresting view the Fields have of distant Denali – a view that was almost lost before Mark came up with a solution.

“We had the fireplace in a whole other location, but had to move it in front of the windows when we decreased the depth of the house in the planning stage,” explains Mark. “The only way it didn’t interrupt the view, though, was by putting a curve in it.” The fireplace, which features artist Mark Witteveen’s metalwork interpretation of the Fields’ view, provided the inspiration to incorporate more curves into the architecture, as seen in the bench that greets guests in the entryway and the gables at each end of the house.

The diamond shape of the timbers is another element repeated throughout the house, including in the handrails of the main staircase, devised by Jim Dunlap of Dunlap Builders.

“And then you can see how the staircase design transitioned into the flooring, which transitioned into the bar and elsewhere,” Margot describes. “I had a great deal of trust in both Mark and Jim, and I wasn’t disappointed. It all came together beautifully.”

*The homeowners’ names have been changed.