At the bottom leg, the adjacent pantry will be a spacious room filled with open shelves that could accommodate items, like a freezer. Some shelving might be on rollers so the cook could wheel just the items needed—like baking supplies for making cookies—into the kitchen’s main area. The pantry also is positioned for easy access from the garage and main entry for handy grocery storage.
The home’s builder, Chad Wuebben, president of Madison-based Encore Construction, was surprised when he saw the kitchen plan. “This design really breaks the mold of the typical kitchen triangle, but the ideas behind it make a lot of sense. Good, timeless design eliminates having to redo a lot of things later,” Wuebben asserts. “We don’t know what the future holds, but this house makes major modifications possible without great expense.”
The bathroom in the basement level also follows Gempeler’s philosophy of separating functions to allow multiple uses to coexist. A semi-private sink area acts as a hub providing access to bathroom functions separated by sliding doors. One space offers a tub/shower and the other leads to toilet facilities. This concept can be expanded to include a sauna, steam room, or separate tub and shower rooms. The sliding doors allow more than one person to use the facilities and still maintain privacy without limiting access to others.
The house also incorporates universal-design principles with one no-barrier entry that can accommodate accessibility devices and larger bathrooms that provide a sense of openness and easily can be altered to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
Another design goal was to connect the house to nature, and the geometry of the angled interior wall continues outside creating a main entry bridge in the front and a patio in the back that extends to a prominent rock outcropping. Pharo sees the use of recycled and natural materials as another way to connect to nature. Although the kitchen countertop material is still under consideration, she’s investigating options that make use of local resources.
“By bringing local and natural stone into the countertops that duplicate the sandstone color of the rock outcropping, it could provide a seamless transition from the interior to the outside. Recycled glass countertops would also be a nice attribute to complement the home’s design and maintain a natural feel,” Pharo says.
Gempeler also organized the house so sightlines in one room share the outside views of another. From the kitchen nook, residents can see through the glass windows in the dining room, kitchen and part of the master bedroom.
Although Pharo will occupy the home, it will serve as a project show house where suppliers and manufacturers who donated products and provided discounted pricing can host events to illustrate their products. Post-occupancy monitoring and testing of systems, equipment and appliances will provide manufacturers with real-life usage data. Enhanced by technology, the whole house can be run by an iPad, so Pharo can warm up the radiant floor or preheat her oven on the drive home among other things.
“We wanted to make a statement about a house that uses less energy, connects to the landscape and makes future alterations possible,” Gempeler explains. “We hope this home proves to people that it can be accomplished in a stimulating way.”