Constant revisions make most people feel like tearing their hair out. Contractor Steve Gauthier isn’t one of them. He relished the process of making big changes while in the midst of constructing the Mount Helix home he shares with his wife, Joeann. “It was always our dream to build a house as we went along — to have fun with it instead of having everything laid down on paper,” he says. The randomness of an indefinite scheme didn’t translate to aimlessness, however. During the design-and-build-as-you-go-merrily-along process, Steve and Advantage Design Partners’ Kathy Miller synergistically let their imaginations and creativity flow to compose an uncommon treasure. In fact, Homes of the Year judge Jennifer Bolyn says, “There is an evident dedication to thoughtful, cohesive design that marries overall excellence of planning with minute detail.” “The preliminary plan, done by architect Scott Frontis, was more Mediterranean in style,” Kathy says. “But the architecture and interiors ended up being what I call ‘industrial meets organic modern.’” The proposed textured stucco cladding with wood eaves, stucco soffit and cement-tile roofing changed to a smooth-finish stucco cladding with raised-seam metal roofing, a metal fascia and metal soffit. The front of the house was planned to be 4 to 5 feet taller, but Steve decided that he preferred they keep the lines clean and simple.
The home’s modest exterior belies its interior. When the striking 5-foot-by-10-foot pivot door opens, guests step into a spacious expanse that encompasses the foyer, living and dining rooms, kitchen and deck — and a view that spans valley depths, mountain peaks and, on clear days, ocean breadths. Wire-brushed wood flooring runs seamlessly almost throughout the entire 11,000-square-foot home. A 16-foot-high ceiling showcases exposed, laminated-timber beams, custom fitted with metal strapping. Guests often comment that when they walk into the foyer, they feel like they are walking into a resort hotel’s lobby.
Marked by an informal elegance, the main-level spaces celebrate ease of living along with grandeur. For maximum effect, Kathy placed lighting underneath the floating quartz hearth and inset the fireplace’s grass-cloth wall with oil-rubbed bronze strips. Furniture here is clean-lined yet comfortable. “Although not fussy, the living room’s three sofas are a bit dressier than other pieces in the room,” Kathy says. “There is a balance between formal and easygoing, with a blend of industrial materials and contemporary style.” Across from the fireplace, a backsplash combination of mirrored glass and ceramic tile provides the slice of elegance needed for a kitchen open to the living room. To add the industrial look into the kitchen equation, cabinets next to the hood consist of a heavy metal grid. A perfect-for-entertaining, 22-foot-long island faces the living room.
“I suggested a quartz island countertop for durability,” Kathy says, “but I inset wood for more interest. It was such a huge island that to just have one material seemed really bland and overwhelming at the same time.” Dividers from the kitchen to the dining room were originally designed as typical overhead cabinets. As the house continued to develop, the plan changed to suspended metal shelving, which not only is in keeping with the industrial/contemporary styling found throughout the house, but also does not obstruct the dining room’s window view from the kitchen.
Four bedrooms hide behind 3-foot-by-8-foot doors along hallways on the other side of the living room. Each has its own personality and ceiling detail. The two boys’ rooms (one no longer lives at home, so his bedroom has become the guest room) share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom. The daughter’s room, which takes its cue from the rest of the house by combining the rustic look of wood walls with the chic look of velvet upholstery, has an en suite bath. The master suite includes a built-in coffee bar and refrigerator in the bathroom and has its own deck, which faces the glorious view.
Downstairs, Kathy and Steve carved out places for recreation, epitomizing Homes of the Year judge Matthew Segal’s statement that “every room and space spares no detail or expense.” They include a state-of-the-art gym, a steam room, a craft room, a home theater and a wine cellar featuring a wall made from lumber cut in different lengths and depths. A playroom contains pool and game tables, a bar, a sectional sofa and a fireplace. A 23-foot-wide sliding door leads out to the pool, spa, three seating arrangements, an informal dining space and a built-in barbecue area.
Technology includes mounted security cameras and a home automation system. W ith the touch of a wall or cell phone button, the house operates music, lights, 14 televisions, gates, doors, heating and air conditioning. Each room has its own zone for temperature control. “Seven days a week, I would walk the job,” Steve says. “Joeann would come by and we’d mull over what we were building. Kathy would stop in and we’d say, ‘Let’s move this over here’ or ‘Let’s make that over there.’ If we built something and decided we didn’t like it, we’d tear it out and start over. The end product evolved.
“I’ve been in this business for a long time,” he continues. “This is who I am. I love to build, and it shows in my house.”