Home of the Month: Modernity in Williams Creek

With three children off to college and one still at home, a couple reimagined their life in an earthy, ultra-modern home.

The Fishers couple was leaving a “loaded-up McMansion” in the suburbs behind—physically and conceptually. As the two attorneys neared their empty-nest years, they wanted to trade the aesthetic of their suburban home, which they describe as Colorado rustic, by constructing a cleaner interpretation of modernity in Williams Creek. Floor-to-ceiling glass. Simple, dramatic lines. An architectural staircase. White walls to act as a canvas for design-conscious lighting. The space allocation also needed to encourage the family to spend time together in the common living quarters and let them entertain in a contemporary way. Architect Alex White, now at Rowland Design, worked with his wife, Tammy, an interior designer, to realize the clients’ vision of modern living with plenty of warmth.

Constructed by Gradison Design Build, the new residence replaced a midcentury-modern one that the couple liked on property they loved. They didn’t arrive at the decision to tear down lightly. White worked through four rounds of renovation plans with his clients before they accepted the existing home’s fate. The new 5,650-square-foot space (a figure that includes the basement, pool house, and three-car garage) channels the elegant ease of midcentury-modern design, which drew the owners to the original house. The influence shows up in the sharply angled roofs, a shape mimicked below the eaves in high-set black-frame windows.

The mix of materials, though—glass, cedar, stone, and metal—feels thoroughly 21st century, and might express some latent affinity for that rustic Colorado look on the part of the owners. But they brought little else from Fishers. Putting the KonMari Method to shame, just a handful of tchotchkes and pieces of furniture came with them to their new address, a minimalist touch that is apparent from the moment one pulls into the driveway.

The landscaping, also designed by the Whites, mimics the home’s streamlined facade while providing a sense of privacy and a sound barrier from street traffic. Bringing in elements from the outdoors, and vice versa, was one of the plan’s main objectives, resulting in a repetition of materials indoors, including a limestone fireplace and cedar ceilings. Inside the spacious glass entry (“Thank God I like cleaning windows,” one of the owners says), the family dog usually lounges on the stairs underneath a steel Louis Poulsen PH artichoke pendant light—another nod to midcentury style. Windows are abundant. Nearly every room in the home features one, including the master walk-in closet and the wine cellar located under the entry stairs.

The bedrooms are not grand in comparison to the extreme scale of the living spaces, with just enough room for a bed and nightstand and not much more. This goes for the master, too, which contains a custom-built wood bed and an ivory leather Eames lounge chair and ottoman. With two of the couple’s three children in college and one a senior in high school, dedicating the square footage to gathering spaces instead of the bedrooms stayed at the forefront of the design team’s mind.

“The rooms are meant to be communal. That was something the owners were cognizant of—wanting their family to spend time together in a very positive way,” says White.

The house created a U-shaped footprint dedicated primarily to two large living spaces boasting ceilings that vault to 26 feet at their highest point. In the family room, a wall-length limestone fireplace and a built-in bar inspired by Hermès serve as points of interest. The owners sourced most of the furniture—comfortable but contemporary couches, structural lamps, and geometric-patterned chairs—from Houseworks.

In the living room, a suspended black Fireorb fireplace creates a cozy corner. A cluster of Moooi ball lights appears to float above the open living room, dining area, and kitchen, the reflections creating what the owners refer to as a “forest” on the walls and window shades at night.

The lights hang almost parallel to an open walkway on the second floor, leading to the kids’ bedrooms (along with a Jack and Jack bathroom for the boys, an en suite for the girl) and an unenclosed office space.

Large windows spanning across both living areas reveal a courtyard featuring a pool and an outdoor entertaining area. The adjoining pool house—complete with a bathroom, kitchenette, and room chock-full of bunk beds—not only serves as a place of refuge on hot summer days but also as guest space.

After cocktail hour at the pool, the owners and their guests can freshen up before heading into the kitchen, built completely with entertaining in mind. Translation, in this case: Not a single toaster oven or jar of flour remains in sight. The only visible appliances are a Miele coffee maker, dual ovens, and the refrigerator, all of which are built into the white riff-cut oak cabinets designed by local high-end firm Nathan Alan.   

For all of its designer influences, top-of-the-line technology, and upscale furnishings, the home still achieves the owners’ goal of encouraging interaction. That feeling extends to the basement, outfitted sparsely—little more than charcoal gray carpet, a large couch, a big-screen television, and a small bathroom. It’s all a teen needs to binge Netflix and play video games with friends.

Perhaps this is one nest that won’t stay too empty, after all.