Embracing Beauty Inside and Out

Striving to find new ways to push the limits of design is a common obstacle in any trend-setting profession. Homes by Pinnacle in Barrington, Ill., is one builder that puts pushing the limit on the top of its priority list, as the front of this house certainly delivers a wow factor. And as a company that prides itself on pushing design, it incorporates impressive characteristics inside the front door and throughout the rest of the house.

Homes by Pinnacle set out to build a spec home with dramatic characteristics, and Craig Ciaglia, general manager, had a good idea of what he wanted to include. Working closely with Scholz Architectural Services in Toledo, Ohio, strengthened each detail. Scholz has been in business for 60 years and harbors a vast library from which to reference ideas. “We can use elements from our library to communicate what a client wants,” says Joe St. Jean, executive vice president, architect, Scholz Architectural Services.

Originally to be built as a spec home, while early in the design stage, an interested buyer became this project’s homeowner. “We showed them the blueprint and they loved the design — it’s what sold them on it,” Ciaglia says. “They made some minor changes but overall they liked what we had in mind for the house.”

Going off the elements that Ciaglia wanted to include, a few details from the homeowner and Scholz’s history, a French-country custom home with luxury amenities became the foundation of this project. “It’s a nice blend of traditional design with the flair of luxury features of a true custom home,” Ciaglia says. “It’s a meshing of the old with the new.”

A few of the luxurious amenities featured in the house include an elevator, master bath with body sprays and a steamer, radiant heat on the entire lower level, and an indoor putting area. Because the homeowner enjoys smoking cigars, he requested a designated smoking section with its own ventilating system.

Pushing the Envelope
Homes by Pinnacle is a company that believes the only way to truly build a custom project is to press design possibilities. The front turret is one element created in this spirit. “The turret features unique design and construction. We had to combine the design with the construction so that it was aesthetically pleasing,” Ciaglia says.

A characteristic that Scholz had designed for past projects, the turret presented the challenge of matching the interior space with the exterior space. “We went back and forth with drawings and photographs from past projects to figure out how formal to make it,” St. Jean says. “Through this process, there were changes and an evolution of the design that was put in the house.”

The curb appeal continues beyond the turret and into the garage. Scholz designed the garage so the roof was pulled up for extra space above it. “You can satisfy a huge variety of wants and desires by doing this,” St. Jean says. “It’s an inexpensive way to make extra space that can be used for many different reasons.”

The area above the garage was converted into two rooms. One room is a gathering space and the other can be turned into a workstation, storage space or bedroom.

The angle of the garage allowed for more flexibility of the driveway. “We angled the garage for two reasons: one, for added curb appeal, and two, for easier access from the driveway to the garage,” Ciaglia says. “If we left the garage on a regular left-to-right alignment, it would be difficult to get a car up to it. It is a smoother transition than if the driveway was straight and linear.”

In most cases curb appeal only includes the front of a house. In this project, the appeal includes the back side. “The back of a house is as important as the front of the house. In many cases, people are seeing the back of the house more than the front; on lakes and golf courses for example,” St. Jean adds.

The back side overlooks a stream and 50 acres of undeveloped land. Homes by Pinnacle wanted to maximize this view. “All the windows are key and take advantage of the lot,” Ciaglia says. “The master suite, great room, breakfast area, kitchen, third bedroom on the second floor, fifth bedroom on the lower level and bar area all include views out the back of the house.”

The dramatic characteristics outside the home are inviting and continue inside. Once inside the front door, one can’t ignore the massive floating staircase that graces the foyer up to the second level. “The staircase makes for a grand statement when you walk into the foyer,” St. Jean adds.

Scholz wanted to keep the design open and flowing to maintain the line of vision while moving throughout the house. “This design provides a formal stair hall and staircase but doesn’t close off the house,” St. Jean says. “There is a grand foyer that opens to the great room, dining room and hearth room. We wanted to identify spaces but still keep it open.”

A floating spiral staircase like the one in this project is difficult to incorporate into a house. “You have to take into consideration the structure and a lot of collaboration between builder, architect and custom stair fabricator,” Ciaglia says. “The stair installer wants to make sure it’s appealing, the architect wants to make sure it functionally works, and the builder is the mediator between the two.”

The house features two fireplaces, one in the great room and the other in the library. The fireplace in the great room has dual operation between the great room and hearth room. The fireplace in the library room offered Scholz and Pinnacle another opportunity to push designs by inserting a window above it. The flue was curved to allow for the window that was placed directly above the firebox. The window is intended to bring in more natural lighting. “The challenge in creating this was to ensure the window and extension jambs looked seamless and that the window didn’t look forced but rather natural,” Ciaglia adds.

Homes by Pinnacle included some green products to increase energy efficiency in the house. “It features a high-efficiency furnace, windows, water heater and 2 by 6 construction for a better R-value,” Ciaglia says.

Pride and Unity
Coming from different points of view, Ciaglia and St. Jean have different aspects that they are most proud of on this project. Ciaglia is proudest of the detail. “From the columns to millwork, to the staircase, to cabinetry, to tile work, the detail really separates it all,” Ciaglia says. “We are also really proud of the design. It takes advantage of the lot’s views that are so important.”

St. Jean’s proudest features are the scale and proportion. “I’m proud of the scale and proportion from the outside and the inside,” St. Jean adds. “The height of the rooms and the spaces all feel good.”

This project’s design/build process went so smoothly the only things St. Jean would have changed came from the homeowner’s feedback. “Because we had all our ducks in a row by the time we were ready for construction, we didn’t run into any construction issues,” St. Jean says. “If we changed something it would have been at the request of the homeowner.”

If Homes by Pinnacle was to do the project over again, Ciaglia says he would add more natural lighting to the second-floor bedrooms. He also finds that teamwork with Scholz, and having the same goal in mind, led to the completion of a successful project. “To embrace the custom look of a home you have to push the envelope, and Scholz likes to push the envelope just as we do,” Ciaglia adds. “Team effort is the only formula for success.”