Permanent Vacation

The exterior pool of the 2019 Indianapolis Monthly Dream Home
The resort-like setting of the Dream Home is a stunning display of design, engineering, and lighting.

Tony Valainis

They say a man’s home is his castle, but trust us when we tell you that you’ve never seen a moat like this before.

All the Right Angles

With a topography that manages to coax gently rolling hills out of formerly flat Indiana farmland, this 52-acre spread makes a stunning first impression on approach.

“We actually wound up siting the house itself 100 yards away from the original planned location to give the whole property a more spacious feel,” says Dream Home builder Brad Bowman of Homes by Design. “We like to stay flexible and let the houses speak to us as they take shape. They don’t always turn out exactly the way we plan, but the changes that evolve along the way always make the project better in the end.”

Composed of large-scale Techo-Bloc cement pavers, the driveway is groundbreaking in more ways than one. “We’re the first job to use this product in the American market,” points out Phil Ennis, owner of P.J.E. Lawn Care & Landscaping. “It comes with a 25-year residential warranty and it’s salt-resistant, which is definitely a big advantage in this region.”

In addition to the pavers, the base of the home’s exterior is ensconced in native limestone fabricated in Southern Indiana and sourced from Architectural Brick and Tile. Above the limestone, low-maintenance, rain-screen siding made of fiber-reinforced cement panels protects the structure from the elements. The material is manufactured to resemble wood, but has more durability.

For the landscaping, Ennis and his team relied on mostly native plants that grow well in a natural Midwest climate, incorporating lots of greenery and florals.

“The beauty of our design is that it complements and softens the lines of the house,” he explains. “The home is so modern in style, like something you’d see in California or Florida. We wanted to make it feel a little more Indiana.”

Purposing the acreage is a work in progress with an apple orchard and a vineyard still to come. But, when complete, the overall property will function as a self-sustaining contemporary farm. “Forty acres of prairie grasses are going in that will eventually be mowed and used as horse feed for the Zionsville community,” Ennis adds.

Inside Out

Along the back of the home, retractable screens open to extend the kitchen and coffee bar into a covered outdoor living area with room to grill, dine, entertain, or just relax.

Patio of the 2019 Indianapolis Monthly Dream Home
Fantastic, functional spaces blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living

“We all know Indiana has unpredictable weather,” says interior designer Deanna Whetstone of Whetstone & Associates. “Here, you can pop in for protection from the elements when it starts raining, then jump back in the pool as soon as the sun peeks out again.”

“Everyone loves outdoor living spaces, but functionality is key,” Bowman adds. “Porches aren’t just porches anymore; people want to be able to use these spaces from March through November.”

The screens operate similarly to a garage door, with an object-detection feature to keep pets and kids safe.

“They also keep the porch slightly warmer to support three-season use, and they help keep out bugs, dust, and dirt,” mentions Caryn O’Sullivan, owner of Drapery Street.

Dive Right In

The contractors and designers all agree—you just don’t see a pool like this every day. “Most pools I put in are 20 feet by 40 feet; this is 30 feet by 90 feet,” Bowman says. “Homeowners usually single out one feature to highlight, but this one has a grotto, a seating area, a hot tub, an infinity edge, and a half-dozen fire features.”

“This is definitely one of the biggest residential pools in Central Indiana,” echoes Mike McGhee, owner of Mike McGhee & Associates. “All the details really flow together nicely and allow plenty of space for activity. There’s something going on everywhere you look.”

A destination space at the top of the pool showcases sectional seating with a unique iron railing and a contemporary arbor designed by Steel House. The grotto sits under a waterfall, while sunning and tanning areas bookend the pool itself. Strategically positioned, stainless-steel footholds in the pool allow swimmers to stand along the negative edge in a 6-foot depth, a cleverly creative departure from ordinary benches.

P.J.E. installed the custom fire bowls and planters, with lots of Indiana limestone thrown in for good measure. The hardscape area boasts textured-porcelain paver tiles sourced from Italy that cost more to fly in than they did to purchase. “There’s no sealing required, and they don’t need pressure-washing,” Ennis says. “We wanted to give the homeowners something that would be easy to clean and maintain over the long run.”

With access off the garage, a bathroom and changing area transitions guests from the pool to the main house with a custom-printed Beach Blanket Bingo–themed mural, midcentury-modern tiles from Architectural Brick and Tile, slip-resistant black slate floors, and elements of the same aqua tones that inform the color palette throughout the rest of the home. A two-person Kohler trough sink from Lee Supply facilitates quick hand washes; there’s also a locker area for storage, a 4-foot square shower, and a toilet.

Go With The Flow

Like many elements of the house, the finished pool diverged significantly from what was originally planned.

“At first, this was all going to be a very organic, natural backyard with waterfalls and a lazy-river pool,” Ennis says. “After talking with the homeowners early on, my design team and I put the brakes on. Two weeks later, we presented an entirely new plan for this resort-style pool that met all their needs, and we hit a home run.”

Although the design process began nearly two years ago, the actual build and installation ended up being a race to the finish after a rough winter and rainy spring repeatedly caused construction delays.

What was supposed to be a six-month timeline ended up being a 60-day window to get all the physical work done,” Ennis explains.

Navigating the complicated set of logistics needed to accommodate the overall pool setup proved another challenge. “There are so many parts of this project that have to work together—the suspended metal paneling with lighting on the back side of the pool, the infinity edge, the grotto with a glass ball coming out of the front, the fire pit in the middle of the pool,” Ennis says. “The underground engineering to support all those features was extremely tricky to build.”

“I’m really proud we’ve been able to hit all of our deadlines, and I think the pool will speak for itself when everyone sees it,” McGhee concludes.

Learn more about the 2019 Indianapolis Monthly Dream Home by clicking here.

VIP Preview Party

Date & Time: October 10, 2019 from 6-9 p.m.  |  Purchase your VIP Preview Party tickets here.

Dream Home Show Tour

Dates & Times: October 11-13 & 17-20 from 12-6 p.m. daily  |  Purchase your Dream Home Show Tour tickets here.