Home Of The Month: Once Upon A Time
“A castle combined with a mountain home. With glamour.”
That’s how Ashlee Wheat envisioned the next abode for her family of four, and thanks to her own knack for design, that’s exactly what she got. When you look at the 6,500-square-foot two-story ensconced in Zionsville that she and her husband, Benjamin, created with the help of Christopher Scott Homes, it’s uncanny how spot-on her vision turned out.
The gray cedar exterior, complete with a turret, is fit for King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. So are the soaring 20-foot ceilings that draw your chin up when you step inside. But the stuffed mountain lion who greets you at the front door—a remnant from a natural-history museum that was going out of business, says Benjamin—stepping out from a little thatchet of faux trees sets a tone that’s more Colorado than Camelot, as does the view of the leafy backyard, where mature trees overhang a babbling creek. Ample doses of rustic dark wood—the kitchen ceiling, a slab serving as a fireplace mantel, structural beams in the great room—also lend the kind of après-ski chic you might find in a Rocky Mountains getaway.
And glamour? For all of its casually masculine furnishings—deep-set black leather sectional anchoring the great room, neutral color palette, artfully mixed-in reclaimed wood—the house positively oozes opulence. Four words: chandelier in the pantry.
Take the kitchen, where the back wall’s sparkly white quartz twinkles when struck by the sun’s rays spilling through the oversized windows. The great room’s enormous chandelier, a stunner worthy of hanging in the halls of Versailles, drips with crystals but is encased in a few simple iron hoops for glitz-meets-industrial-cool appeal. Nearby, velvety black chairs tufted with gumball-sized rhinestones line up around the dining room table, but the two head chairs are covered in burlap and have more of a country-French feel—like Versailles’s Petit Trianon, perhaps, the humble gardens to which Marie Antoinette famously escaped when she wanted to play the simple life of a peasant.
Once she was ready for the palace lifestyle again, though, the queen would gladly have stepped into the couple’s closet, which looks every inch a chic clothing boutique—just what Ashlee intended. And she surely would have relished bathing in the shower a few feet away, with its cushiony, always-warm teak floor and bench.
Ashlee’s creations decorate the couple’s first-floor master suite, from crystal-draped antler chandeliers (resin, really) to an enormous canvas depicting a violet pair of lips over the bed.
“This was really fun for us as builders–something we can really be proud of.”
“Everywhere you turn, I tried to make something fun and unexpected, a little bit different,” says Ashlee. She owns her own dental practice, but in her lithe frame clearly beats the heart of an interior decorator. In building the house, Chris Carnell and Scott Bates of Christopher Scott Homes in Carmel helped carry out the Wheats’ ideas for everything from the sweeping circular staircase down to the track-and-wheel fixtures on the barn doors. “They were great about having a really unique vision, and giving us plenty of creative freedom,” says Bates, who has done a lot of the same old things at clients’ requests in the 16 years he’s been designing homes. “This was really fun for us as builders—something we can really be proud of.”
When it came time to adorn it all, Benjamin (a luxury car dealer and part-time private pilot) and Ashlee passed on using a professional and went by their instincts—okay, mostly Ashlee’s, but Benjamin enthuses over every inch of it.
Benjamin on the home’s overall eclectic vibe: “It’s like you never know what you’ll be seeing in the next room.”
Benjamin on the flat-screen TV that stays on the porch year-round: “That thing’s made it two winters now, and it’s perfect. To take it down would be a hassle because of the wires.”
Benjamin on the $800 gold-glitter grout between the tiles of his little girl’s shower: “It’s neat! I’m glad we found that.”
Where does one find glitter grout, by the way? “Um,” says Ashlee. “You have to work with a floor guy for a little while. It’s not just on the shelf. This grout could have been plain for $30, but [gold] had to be done, it was so worth it,” she adds with a laugh. “The tile itself is just a cheap matte subway, so when you average it out, it’s fine, right?”
Give the gold grout its due—it does pick up perfectly the sparkle of the golden quartz countertop, the centerpiece of 3-year-old Sloane’s bathroom. One of Ashlee’s friends, who owns a granite company, imported the stone from Italy for the ladies’ bathroom at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and gave a leftover slab to the Wheats. When the light’s just right, you can spy more glitter on the walls and ceiling, courtesy of a paint additive the couple found.
Masculine touches, like dinosaurs and a ’50s-era tin toy plane that once belonged to Benjamin, mark 5-year-old Slade’s room down the hall. The cool feature in his bathroom: a backlit sink that serves as a nightlight. Its color can be changed by remote. “It’s hard to find cool stuff for boys,” says Ashlee. “So when you do, you just have to grab it.”
Lately, she’s been loving Wayfair, the online retailer that sells home items sourced everywhere from Walmart to Neiman Marcus. “I mix and match a lot, honestly,” she says. “It’s all in how you ‘wear’ it.”
Rounding out this glam château-in-the-wilderness house is a spacious upstairs playroom for the kids. Some day, muses Ashlee, it might hold a pool table or something else age-appropriate. For now, it’s outfitted with everything an arts-and-crafter could want—including plenty of, yes, glitter. How does the couple keep it from getting absolutely everywhere? “I have a little hand vac up here,” says Ashlee.
“And honestly, I love glitter so much, I don’t really care.”