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Blurring The Lines

A Broken Top home makes the indoors and outdoors feel as one

Three years ago Norman Building & Design was tasked with a challenge by a client couple: create a single-story home that feels like a Craftsman on the outside but is open and modern on the inside, boasts views of the Cascades, and sports a garage big enough for cars, motorcycles and a handful of hobbies—and do it all on a relatively small plot. The result: a 2013 home on a cul-de-sac in the Broken Top community in Bend, with a 4000-square-foot floor plan that feels like 6000, and which borrows the Cascades skyline to seemingly bring the great outdoors right to the doorstep.

When you first arrive at the home, the grandeur of the front door immediately captures your attention. “We wanted the entryway to call out to you,” says Greg Garrick of Norman Building & Design. “We wanted it to warmly say ‘This is where you’re supposed to go.’” Set well within the house’s horseshoe-like footprint, the entrance is framed by the two wings that comprise the rest of the home.

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The left-hand wing is actually the home’s front-facing garage, a feature somewhat unconventional for modern homes. Most contemporary designs place the garage doors facing perpendicular to the front of the home, turned inward into the property, which keeps them hidden from most viewing angles so as not to compete visually with the main entryway. But a side-facing garage means the driveway shares space with the main entrance, which can result in a sea of concrete just outside the front door.

With this home, the garage gets its own entrance, along with custom wood doors to soften its appearance from the street. The central area, hemmed in by the garage and the home itself, is a courtyard completely dedicated to the main entryway, with flowers, shrubbery and small trees bordering the slightly-curving stone path to the front door.

It’s when you first enter the courtyard that the architectural indoor-outdoor magic of this home first manifests itself. Without having set foot on the doorstep, it feels as if you’re already inside. To the left, windows offer glimpses into various rooms of the home, and tucked away in the far corner, beside the kitchen window, sits a raised stone patio seating area with table and chairs. To the right of the walkway a row of towering windows reveals a hallway and its wall art, giving the impression of a glass-enclosed exhibit in an outdoor art museum.

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Stepping through the front door of the home, into the great room, reverses the indoor-outdoor magic with breathtaking results. The entire west wall opposite the door, including the corners, is virtually a single window, and your gaze leaps away through the glass and beyond to the sweeping western horizon. In the near distance a lone pine tree with a hula-like bend at its midsection faintly echoes the curve of the stone walkway in the courtyard. Through the corner window on the right, Mt. Bachelor and the Cascades peek out from the northwest.

Interior designer Kerri Rossi of Norman Building & Design says sapele mahogany was the perfect fit for the Northwest Modern style the wood-loving couple requested. “We chose sapele for its clean and contemporary look. It has a pretty, almost ribbon-like grain to it, and it stains up beautifully.” Planks of the reddish-brown wood entirely cover the vaulted ceiling, and its golden glowing trim provides rich splashes of color throughout the home’s interior.

On one side of the great room a fireplace dominates the wall, its mosaic of lighter-colored stonework pierced by a solid, black granite, free-floating hearth and mantel, both custom-made by Norman Building & Design. Across from the fireplace, beyond the white leather furniture, is the dining room and kitchen.

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Because all three spaces share the same mahogany accents and gray porcelain tile floors, the transition between them is nearly unnoticeable. Garrick explains that consistency gives the smaller, single-story home a bigger, more open feel. “If you change materials from room to room, your mind will create a wall between them. The home shrinks.”

Instead of walls, a single square mahogany column at the intersection between the three rooms only hints at separation. A large square of carpet installed beneath the furniture denotes the great room, and above, the vaulted planks of mahogany give way to much lower, flat, white ceilings and mahogany beam accents in the dining room and kitchen. The differences are subtle yet effective; it looks like three separate spaces, but it feels like one enormous room.

In the center of the dining room sits a gorgeously textured wooden table. A work of abstract art resembling an orange African sunburst hangs on a nearby wall. “In modern design,” explains Rossi, “The goal is to make everything monochromatic, and then have these pops of color for accents.” Above the table, five hanging orange lights echo the color of the art so well, it seems they were plucked right out of the frame.

A few feet away, the kitchen is awash in the same mahogany as the great room. Sapele was used for the cabinets, pantry, wine rack and bar—all made in-house at Norman Building & Design. Satin nickel cabinet hardware stands out like diamond jewelry against the dark wood, and is echoed by the nearby stainless steel appliances.

To help calm the heavier wood grains, leathered black granite was chosen for the countertops. An enormous, chiseled slab of the material serves as the kitchen’s island centerpiece. Upon closer inspection, the countertop’s semi-smooth black surface reveals iridescent flecks of rainbow reminiscent of abalone shell or mica. The backsplashes, made from a colorful yet rustic lighthouse glass mosaic tile, stand out against the darkness of the mahogany and granite, but somewhat mirror the muted bits of color within the black countertops.

A back door in the dining room provides access to a covered patio that overlooks a tee-off area on the golf course behind the house, along with the rest of the Cascades skyline. Again, the distinction between indoors and outdoors is vague; with mahogany plank covering the patio ceiling, it feels less like you’re outside on a patio and more like you’re inside a room that had its west wall removed. “That’s one of Jim’s signature designs. He incorporates outdoor living into the homes, bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out,” explains Rossi. Just outside, beyond the patio’s roof, a gas firepit and chairs all but beg for summer starlit nights.

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Back inside, on the way to the master bedroom, sits a powder room worth notice. A white onyx sink sits alone, illuminated like an alabaster altar, on a free-standing mahogany shelf. If the room seems like it was built to showcase the sink, that’s because it was. “We literally started with the sink,” says Rossi. “The whole design of the powder room was built around it.” To create a custom showcase look, Rossi set the woodgrain vertical in the middle but perpendicular on the sides of the shelf. The grain seemingly flows from beneath the sink, while at the same time is framed by the cross-grained side sections. A textured slate wall that borders the sink, as well as the ceiling-spanning mirror, helps to enhance the frame. A single accent light, focused on the sink itself, completes the effect.

Past the powder room, the master bedroom offers the same jaw-dropping views of the western horizon as the great room. A custom wooden bedframe with five-foot-tall, chess pawn-shaped posts rests squarely against one wall. Above it a steel ceiling fan that looks like it was taken right off the front of a 1940s fighter plane provides a modern, silvery pop.

The adjoining master bath contains not only his-and-hers sinks, but his-and-hers closets, a luxury, given the space constrictions of the single-story design. In lieu of a shower door, a privacy wall separates the shower from the rest of the bathroom, a feature that helps introduce much-needed humidity into the high desert home.

A trip down the hallway to the guest’s quarters further highlights the outdoor living design aesthetic that permeates the rest of the home. With its wall-length array of windows—the very windows that let you view the hallway’s art from the courtyard—the hallway feels much bigger than it actually is, and you almost feel like you’re outside. Because they’re south-facing, the windows capture much of the sun’s heat during the wintertime.
At the end of the hallway is the guest bedroom. Strategically placed windows create an illusion of solitude; there are no signs of neighbors, only grass and trees. Since the room is located in its own wing of the house, guests won’t hear the bustle of activity coming from the kitchen or the great room, should they decide to sleep in.

Completing the residence is a home office with a sturdy, custom-made, mahogany sliding door for noise control, a laundry room (with a similar sound-dampening sliding mahogany door), a sewing room that doubles as a guest overflow bedroom and, of course, the spacious front-facing garage, perfect for storing loads of outdoor gear.

The mahogany, the granite, the views—all of Norman Building & Design’s creative decisions combine to create a perfect home for both indoor and outdoor living. The end result is a modestly sized, contemporary dwelling that feels twice its size and includes amazing views—exactly what the owners wanted.

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