Dominick Tringali Architects, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is known for its details and highly crafted custom homes. And its work on the Ott Residence is no exception. Built on one of the largest lakes in Michigan — Lake St. Clair — soil and water issues presented challenges but didn’t prevent Paul Samartino, Associate AIA, lead designer, from creating views of the lake in every room in the home.
“The site and views were the real inspiration. The views are endless; the lot offered 180-degree panoramic views of water. [Naturally, the homeowners] wanted to maximize the views of the lake,” Samartino says.
When guests walk through the front door, they are greeted with an impressive staircase that Samartino calls a reverse staircase with views of the lake. “The main reason for that type of stair in this house is because when you walk in the front door you get a direct, unobstructed view out the back of the house and see the horizon of the lake beyond. The stair sweeps behind you, over the front door. So it really offers a dynamic view vs. a bridge that goes across,” Samartino says. Views of the lake are also available on the second story of the staircase.
A nautical theme is subtly carried throughout the home with design details and homeowner touches. “The ceiling in the parlor area was inspired by a nautical theme where you get that round, compass feeling. It was a fun element that worked well in that space,” he says. The windows in this room were also designed with a nautical theme and to match the ceiling.
The home’s pub space was influenced by a hull of a boat. “We barreled the ceiling with teak that is reminiscent of a boat. The homeowner added a nautical antique lighting fixture from a boat,” Samartino says.
The pub offers a very strong view of the lake that is also captured from the dining room. “[The dining room] is directly in front of the house and doesn’t have a view of the lake, but we actually captured it if you look through the pub and see the lake that way. That being the only room without a direct view of the lake, we still achieved it by looking through [the pub],” he says.
The garage has room for five cars but doesn’t overtake the design of the home. “The garage is set up where there is a three-car garage attached to the house and then we did a porte cochere which leads you to the motor court.
Then there is a detached two-car garage but it’s all connected with the roof. Vehicles will not be sitting in front of the house,” Samartino says.
The amount of required garage space presented a challenge for the team as the local codes restricted its size. To overcome that challenge, Samartino labeled one of the garages as a workshop.
Other challenges in the design of this house were the soil and water issues at the site. “We had a high water table so the home has 6-ft.-wide spread footings around the entire home and under the garages because the soil was so unstable. We have three sump pumps in the house — interior, exterior and backup,” Samartino adds. “Extra reinforced concrete slab flooring was also used to prevent uplift from the water pressure in the soil.”
Samartino’s favorite parts of the house include the pub, master bath and family room because of the views and details within the spaces. And knowing what he knows now, he says he wouldn’t change a thing about the process of creating the house. “I go out to the house and it works. There isn’t anything that I look at and think is a mistake,” he says. “The site was challenging but had a lot of rewards. Sometimes if you don’t have the right client or the site doesn’t have the right views, it doesn’t work. But this house has it all.”
DOMINICK TRINGALI ARCHITECTS
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.