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The Gathering Space
Warm kitchen alcove flows into open living area
The stunning exterior of the mHouse raises your expectations, and a tour of this home of what’s possible reinforces the notion that this house is unlike any other, using cutting-edge materials and technology in the most innovative ways.
At the main entry, the vertical reveals on the mahogany privacy screen and the front door by Archispec set the stage for a pattern seen throughout the house. As you enter the house, you turn into the kitchen and main living area, and you can see why this is the natural gathering space of this three-level, multi-dimensional home.
To the right is the kitchen, which was designed by architect John Vetter to be a warm alcove that opens up to the 12-foot ceiling and open space of the main living area.
“The 12-foot ceiling could have overwhelmed the main living space if some seclusion was not created as a counterbalance,” Vetter said, noting that the kitchen’s ceiling is 8 feet. “It provides intimacy and is perfect for gatherings.”
All of the kitchen’s cabinet doors and drawer fronts feature Uniboard’s embossed-in-register Brushed Elm, a high-end woodprint finish on thermally fused laminate (TFL) with décor compliments of Interprint. The ceiling is also made of Brushed Elm and ties the alcove together with its 6-inch-by-3/4-inch edgebanded boards separated by three-quarter-inch reveals, creating a feeling of unification.
The front edges of the counters are flush with the fronts of the cabinet doors and drawers to maintain the home’s contemporary feel. The cabinet’s TFL interiors are also Uniboard in its Sheer Linen pattern, selected by the architect for its complementary color and to provide a more finished and interesting look. The refrigerator, dishwasher and other appliances were built-in and panel ready to be flush with surrounding cabinets.
Pantry hardware from Kesseböhmer of Germany is built into many of the kitchen’s cabinets. Häfele provided the decorative hardware.
The kitchen’s centerpiece is a 12-foot-by-4-foot island with Wilsonart Solid Surface in the Coconut Oil pattern, which also tops the room’s 22-foot countertop. Vetter and interior designer Amy Carman selected the surface for its simplicity and durability and because they didn’t want the material to overpower the environment.
“They wanted everything to work in harmony,” said John Aufderhaar, president of Bedford Falls Communications and publisher of Surface & Panel. “This surface is designed to be beautiful and functional in a simple way.”
The kitchen, including all of the cabinets and island, was fabricated by Quest Engineering, a company of some 32 workers located in Richfield, Wisconsin, about 15 miles northwest of Milwaukee.
The entryway and kitchen also introduce visitors to the luxury vinyl tile that is the dominant flooring throughout the house. It’s Metroflor’s Aspecta brand in 18-inch-by-18-inch tiles. The pattern is Washed Concrete, and the color is Carbon.
Vetter and Carman wanted a consistent feel from room to room without transitions and didn’t want flooring that chopped the house into separate areas. The 3mm Aspecta is thicker than most residential flooring and has tremendous durability. Materials throughout the house were selected to match the flooring’s color.
As is most of the house, the kitchen is lighted by LED recessed lights from Eaton that were chosen for the way their simplicity and design enhance the home’s contemporary look. The mHouse has 110 Eaton fixtures.
As you move into the main living area, a two-story showpiece fireplace by Columbia Forest Products commands your attention. It features DesignEdge, one of Columbia’s most innovative products. DesignEdge is a high-quality plywood panel that can be carved, routed, beveled and laser-cut to showcase the thick and thin layers of alternating core material beneath the surface, with the edge left exposed as a decorative element.
The decorative face of the material is Sapele. The panels are cut into strips of varying widths and applied vertically to the fireplace wall, leaving three-quarter inch gaps that mirror the reveals elsewhere. The wood is finished in a rich mahogany stain, and the exposed edges are subtly visible.
“I love using materials in their natural state,” Vetter said. “Producers of plywood panel products should never apologize for an exposed core or feel that it must be edgebanded to conceal it. Columbia’s Design Edge was perfect for the fireplace facade.”
As you look to the back of the house, a massive Marvin Lift and Slide Door affords an uninterrupted view of the outdoor living space and the beautiful 16th green of the adjoining country club. The 12-foot-by-24-foot door is one of the largest in North America.
The Lift and Slide is an engineering marvel. It was produced and erected in Marvin Windows and Doors Tennessee facility before being shipped. Made from four 12-foot-by-6-foot panels, each exceeding 600 pounds, the Lift and Slide opens 12 feet wide and creates a seamless transition from the exterior to the interior. The hardware virtually disappears for an incredibly clean and unobstructed view. The huge panels slide effortlessly. That 600 pounds can be moved with two fingers is a testament to Marvin’s engineers.
In addition to the Lift and Slide, Marvin windows were used exclusively throughout the home. More than 60 windows and 1,600 square feet of glass were required to reveal architect Vetter’s vision.
Vetter insisted on using Weather-Tec Design Center of Brookfield, Wis.
“I’ve worked with Mark Edberg (president) for many years, and he and his team are the only ones I trust to handle a job this complicated,” Vetter said.
Aufderhaar couldn’t be more pleased with the process from beginning to end.
“Mark Edberg, Renee Milbridge and the rest of Weather-Tek’s team were a pleasure to work with,” Aufderhaar said. “They’ve been a trusted supplier of Marvin for many years and were with us every step of the way, including design, engineering, production, delivery and installation. Every window and door fit like a glove. Vetter was right. Weather-Tek was the best choice.”
Not surprisingly, every room in the home has a wide view of the private golf course and surrounding rural environment. Rooms are bathed in natural light during the day, and stars are visible at night.