July 2008 Issue
Landscapes inspire design from the outside in.
The choices Ohioans make for their homes reflect a wide range of interests and a distinct sense of style. The four featured on these pages also take advantage of the state’s diverse landscapes, from the rolling hills of the southeast, to farmland in central Ohio and a college town in the northeast.
Far From the Fast Lane
In the early 1990s, Jeg Coughlin Jr., a four-time NHRA POWERade world champion race car driver, set out to find a piece of land in Delaware county — a scenic, private farm he could one day build a home on, and in the meantime use for fishing, motorcycle riding and dirt-bike riding.
In searching, he came across an old dairy farm — 133 acres of land — and found it to be “everything I had in mind,” he says. “The terrain had a nice change in elevation and there were a couple of different wooded ravines within the property, where water actively flows from the west down to the Olentangy River.” He bought the land a year later and used it as his own personal playground until 1996, when he married and decided to build a home on the land.
Coughlin and then-wife Karen (they divorced in 2006) hired Columbus architect George Acock, of Acock Associates, and together they dreamed up and designed a 15,000-square-foot residence, described byArchitectural Digest in March 2007 as “pure Americana.”
“Both Karen and I enjoyed a lot of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, and George had a lot of similar ideas in the way he looked at his architecture — wanting to use floor-to-ceiling windows and make the front porch stones line up with the stones that are going into the house,” Coughlin says.
Because his work takes Coughlin on the road quite a bit, he wanted to design a place that could be a peaceful retreat from chaos — a place where he could “just stay home and chill out” and enjoy his surroundings, he says.
The main idea for the home, which was completed in 2002, was to create a main “spine” that runs east to west, with every room flowing together and unfolding into the master bedroom at the east end of the home, Acock explains.
“Everything flows — the living area, kitchen, hall, dining area, billiard room and library,” the architect says. “Some of the ceilings are high, some are lower, but they’re pulled together by stone columns that mark them off — they define the spaces.”
The home was built using mostly natural materials: slate, stone, stucco, wood, copper and stainless steel. Coughlin also wanted his primary living spaces, where he spends the most time, to be located on the first floor. “It seems like if you dissect your life, you’re either in the bedroom area, kitchen area or the garages, or at least that’s the way it is for me,” he says. The great room features dark wood couches and two television sets. “It’s very user-friendly, whether I’m with a friend or with my son or socializing with 20 [friends],” he adds.
Coughlin also enjoys spending time in his game room in the home’s lower level, which features a billiard table, arcade games and a racing simulator. Trophies and other memorabilia marking his accomplishments and those of his champion car-racing father and brothers decorate the room, along with a black-and-white 3-D-esque checkerboard carpet, which Coughlin describes as “the wildest of anything I’ve seen.”
And then there’s the library tower, lined with windows, that was inspired by Coughlin’s parents’ home in Maine. “That’s an omniscient room — you can see everything that’s going on, and the beauty of the land, and the way it sculpts from north to south and east to west.”
“It’s really a serene environment — something I look forward to going home to,” he adds.
Built for Play
“I value silliness and child’s play.” This is one of the first things Rob Crane told architect Dave Stock in 1995 when he hired his Columbus firm, Stock and Stone Architecture, to design a new home for him in Dublin, Ohio, a stone’s throw from the Scioto River.
At the time, Crane, a family doctor who teaches part-time at The Ohio State University, was a divorced father of a 10-year-old daughter, looking to build his dream home — a fun, whimsical structure that could one day be enjoyed by a wife and additional children as well. He wanted a place filled with secret passages, sliding bookcases and a fireman’s pole.
The resulting home, surrounded by woods, ravines, rocks and waterfalls, has two personalities. From the outside, it has a traditional English appearance, with limestone walls and a slate roof. Walk inside, though, and you’ll find a bold and imaginative fairytale house, fit for Alice in Wonderland.
“I knew I wanted to have more children and I loved the idea of having kids grow up in a place with lots of nooks and crannies, a place to hang out,” Crane says. In 2002, Crane remarried, and now his wife Shannon, their sons (ages 1 and 4) and his 23-year-old daughter, who visits often, enjoy the fanciful nature of the house.
The focal point of the home is a three-story library, located in an octagon-shaped, copper-enclosed, castle-like structure just off the living room and kitchen. A narrow, winding staircase leads to each level of the library, and a secret passageway opens to the bedrooms (hint: it involves pulling out a novel by a famous Russian author). The wall of one child’s room features a mural of the family’s two dogs flying small aircraft. The other room features a jungle-themed mural (both were painted by artist Sarah DeAngulo). Atop the library is an observatory with fiber-optic lights that blink and twinkle like the night sky.
The whimsy doesn’t stop there, either. The decor of the living room was patterned after an enormous rug made by artist Pat Durkin, of Columbus-based Carpet Graphics, which is supposed to be an abstract expression of the surrounding land. Fittingly, the living room offers stunning views of that land. “It’s like living in a tree house,” Shannon Crane says of the up-close-and-personal views of birds, wildlife and water.
According to architect Stock, the biggest challenge was making sure the house was placed in the right location, to take advantage of the ravine. The Crane house abuts the ravine, and in part hangs over it.
“This is one of the most fun houses we’ve done,” says Stone.
Music Lovers’ Dream
Despite its long, winding driveway and its secluded, wooded location in Oberlin, this house — white, angular and ultra-modern — is hard to miss. When Catharina Meints and her late husband James Caldwell first moved into the place in 2004, it wasn’t uncommon for students and tourists to pull all the way into the driveway and knock on the door of the 1,600-square-foot residence, assuming it was a public building or an extension of Oberlin College.
It isn’t. Meints, an associate professor of viola da gamba and cello at Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music, and Caldwell, who taught oboe at the Conservatory until his death in 2006, built this music and art lovers’ home after their Victorian-style residence, also in Oberlin, began to suffer from “old home” problems. They decided to build a residence in which they could age in place. They also wanted spaces to accommodate all their interests, hobbies and passions.
They had long admired the work of architect Mark Lesner of Mark
Lesner and Associates, based in nearby Amherst, and hired him to design their new residence. They gave him a short list of must-haves, including a music room where they could host their annual New Year’s Eve party, two studios, wall space to hang Meints’ antique instrument collection and Caldwell’s original digital artworks, and a room for their plant collections.
“Just from a structural standpoint, most residences are made mostly out of wood construction,” says Lesner. “This house has more of a commercial application to it. There’s more structural steel in this house than a lot of smaller commercial builds. And a lot of the walls are at 85-1/2 degree angles. Some are 30-degree angles.”
The cream-colored walls are covered with Caldwell’s digital artwork, and floor-to-ceiling beams dance across one another, cutting awe-inspiring angles that can be seen throughout the home. The kitchen area, features bold yellow Snaidero cabinetry.
The music room, with its high ceilings, large windows, antique French furniture, piano, harpsichord and a musical instrument collection, is a highlight of the home, and is accessed through electronic sliding doors, which were inspired partly by Asian art, and partly by the science fiction film “Stargate.”
“One of the most wonderful things about living in the house is that your eyes are constantly able to go to something amazing to look at,” Meints says. “But, at the same time, there’s something ... restful about it, and the combination of that dynamism, plus the restfulness, is really extraordinary.”
Roughing It, Luxuriously
In 1936, Susan Heebink’s father bought a piece of land in the Hocking Hills and built a two-story log cabin. Now, Susan and her husband, Dennis Heebink, are starting their own family traditions with the approximately 300 acres of inherited family-owned land in Rockbridge.
They moved from the Columbus area to Hocking County in the mid-1990s, where they lived first in a ranch home, and then a farmhouse on the property, until they decided in early 2007 to build a new home — a luxury log home — in which they could age gracefully. They commissioned a handcrafted log cabin builder, the Jubach Company, and set to work planning an innovative structure from Northern White pine logs, in the midst of rolling hills, horse trails, hiking trains, creeks, ravines and caves. “It’s like having our own state park,” says Dennis Heebink. “It’s a privilege to be in the middle of such natural beauty.”
The 3,500-square-foot house, which was completed in October 2007, is constructed mostly of wood, although there are several walls made of drywall, and the towering fireplace is made of cultured stone.
“The home, I think, speaks to Dennis and Susan’s character,” says Sarah Jubach, sales and marketing director for the Jubach Company.
From the beginning, the Heebinks wanted to keep things simple — clean lines, comfortable country decor, a large, upstairs home office for Dennis, lots of windows and no window coverings whatsoever. “If I can’t be far enough out in the country to have bare windows, then I don’t want to live there,” Heebink says, with a laugh.
The best feature of the house, though, is the way it has brought four generations of extended family together. The Heebinks’ eight grandchildren love visiting their grandparents during summer vacations. The house is a popular location for grandchildren’s birthday parties as well, complete with horseback riding, hayrides, campfires and hikes through caves.
“I love the West,” Heebink says. “I wanted to bring Wyoming to Hocking County, and I think we’ve done that. We’ve captured that big Western style home here, and that’s why I love it like I do.”