By Joey Brender
For some, the world “modern,” when applied to architecture, conjures up images of large, empty spaces and cold, sterile walls. But this breathtaking custom home proves that modern is not only beautiful; it also can be warm, even welcoming.
The 12,000- plus square- foot house, located in Ann Arbor’s exclusive Barton Hills community, sits on a steep hill surrounded by four glorious acres of nature. The view from within is nothing short of spectacular, aided by enormous windows that showcase the woodsy setting from every possible angle. Inside and out, this house has character.
“The owners originally wanted a soft contemporary, but they didn’t expect anything this dramatic,” said Kevin Akey of AZD Associates in Birmingham, who designed the home along with partner Frank Zychowski.
“The lady of the house is very open-minded and artistic. We took her ideas and expanded upon them.”
In fact, says Akey, she worked very closely with the architects, and deserves much of the credit for the home’s interior. Some of the more unusual accents in the house, including the hardware for the cabinets and the stairs, were the product of a joint effort by client and architect. Akey and Zychowski drew the ideas for the hardware, and the owners of the home manufactured them in their tool and die shop.
Akey and Zychowski used natural materials such as brick, stone and wood throughout the three levels of living space to create a timeless-rather than glitzy-look. Features such as limestone floors and maple trim contribute a rich, earthy feel, while an abundance of glass and natural light give the home its open, airy atmosphere.
“Probably one of the most unique features is the way natural light goes through the entire house because of the use of strategically-placed glass,” said Akey. “Openings in the main level floor allow light to pass through all three levels. There are also no decks attached to the house to avoid dark areas on the lower level.”
With more than 20 rooms, including four large bedrooms and eight bathrooms, this home provides ample space and opportunity for relaxing, entertaining and playing. The indoor pool, which can be seen from most areas of the house, including the master suite, is adjacent to a snooker room, movie room, exercise room and spa.
“I think our clients’ lifestyle has changed since moving into this house,” said Akey, who explains that the home seems to have inspired the purchase of a piano and an interest in music.
One only has to step into this house to feel inspired. Contemporary has never been quite so inviting.