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Posted on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 5:25 a.m.

Scio Township house in the woods bows to the trees that surround it

By Janet Miller


The kitchen flooring in the Scott and Cindy Kellman's home is made from exotic Brazilian cherry, called Tigerwood.

Melanie Maxwell |

For Cindy and Scott Kellman, the trees ruled.


When the Ann Arbor couple began planning for their 8,000-square-foot house set on a former farm parcel just west of Ann Arbor, they wanted not only to keep as many trees as possible, but to blend in with their wooded surroundings.

The idea was to not only honor the forest of hickory, maple and catalpa trees, but to bring the woods into the Arts and Crafts-influenced house, said Ann Arbor architect J. Bradley Moore. “We wanted to stay as natural as possible. You want to feel that you are part of the environment you set the house in.” Toward that end, Moore included plenty of windows for looking out and brought a treasure trove of woods inside. “We didn’t want to just see the woods from every room, we wanted the wood in the house,” Moore said.

Wood makes a star appearance throughout the house, including:

• The exotic Brazilian cherry, called Tigerwood because of its varied texture and color, used for the flooring that runs throughout.

• The cherry used for the kitchen cabinets was considered defective because of its varied color and chinks and knots. But Kellman liked the warmth the imperfections offered. Cherry also shows up on the interior trim and door casings, and for the built-in bookcases in the library.

• The great room mantle made of natural mesquite from Texas.

• The Douglas fir used for the vaulted ceiling and beams in the great room.

• The Michigan maple used for the tabletop and some of the counter tops in the kitchen. Moore designed the table, with its oblong shape with blunt ends.

• The cedar used for the exterior (where it’s partnered with natural stone) and for some of the beams in the great room.

• The mahogany front door.

Photo slideshow by Melanie Maxwell But nowhere does the house and woods come together than with what the Kellman’s call “The Tree House,” an enclosed four-season porch off the master bedroom, on the top floor. It’s nestled among tree branches and looks out over the woods.

“We kept the trees as close to the house as possible,” Moore said.

The house, located on 2.75 acres down a private gravel road off of Wagner Road in Scio Township, is divided into five levels, affording privacy and space for their young adult sons while keeping their two younger boys closer to the heart of the house. The five-bedroom, five-bath house was completed in 2005.

The house had to have a stone fireplace, Kellman said. Her husband wanted a vaulted ceiling. Kellman wasn’t wild about a two-story vaulted ceiling, so they compromised on a 1.5-story ceiling in the great room, which comes off the front foyer. She wanted an open entryway rather than a center staircase that would block the view. It has sprawling kitchen big enough for entertaining. Designers know that kitchens act like the family room when guests arrive, Moore said. With the built-in table and with a four-season sunroom with radiant floor heat off the kitchen, there’s space for a crowd, he said.


Cindy Kellman with architect J. Bradley Moore, who designed the home.

Melanie Maxwell |

Dark granite countertops with warm brown highlights connect with the color of the cherry in the kitchen cabinets. Jerusalem stone, shipped from Israel, is behind the stove, and show up again in the master bathroom upstairs.

The formal dining room has a 10-foot table stained in walnut.

Until recent years, the land where the house now stands was a family farm that was purchased by an adjacent homeowner who wanted to preserve the green space, Moore said.

The homeowner purchased the farmland, divided it into half-a-dozen single-family home sites and filed for an agricultural conservation easement, guaranteeing that the land will stay in its natural state, Moore said. Some of the acreage is still leased for farming.

Kellman said she wanted a house surrounded by woods, away from a subdivision, the whiz of cars and the lack of privacy. When they heard in 2003 that the former farmland would be for sale, they moved forward on the purchase, even though they were moving to California.

“We didn’t want to let go of it,” Kellman said. “We were hoping we would move back.”

They returned to Ann Arbor two years later.



Mon, Mar 15, 2010 : 5:53 p.m.

As a person with some understanding of construction techniques I am impressed. I had the chance to walk through this beautiful house during the construction process. I instantly took notice of the built-in quality, the solidness of the structure, the uniqueness of its design and way it fit into its surroundings. While it is very big, somehow it seemed to be intimate (I know that sounds odd but I think it is an easy house to live in and very comfortable). I have been in a couple other of Mr. Moore's projects, they seem to feel very substantial, fun, livable & custom. Kudos to Mr. Moore on the great project & congrats to the owners for getting such a beautiful place in a such a wonderful location. Bravo & Encore (please)!


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 10:29 p.m.

I've been in this home before. It really doesn't feel like it's more than 7500 sqr feet. So to all those whining that it's too big, shut up.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 7:55 a.m.

Great Job by the Architect Brad Moore. Size is a relative term depending on an individuals personal needs and taste. I have clients with homes two to three times this size who would think this too small! It is still a free country and those critical of choices made by others should remember that when imposing their own opinions upon others. Persons with larger homes often have extended family members or gatherings and other needs others may not know about, so mind your own business. Saving or replacing the trees is always good whenever possible and I'm glad to hear about people preferring our area and coming back to Ann Arbor. Hopefully the economic climate will continue to improve and the building industry will return again to our area very soon. Good luck to you all in the mean time.


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 10:39 p.m.

Great house. Whoooopps!!!! Love this place. Holla to my bad boys Gabe and Bernie!


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 3:14 p.m.

Wow, that's a gorgeous kitchen...wish I had the career to have one like that (though I'd likely use tile and leave the trees to grow.) Beautiful work by the designer/architect.


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 2:57 p.m.

is cleared and plowed framn land realy any any diffrent i mean clearing and plowing land doesn't make it look natural. this is just people in ann arbor not wanting to share with new comers, it seems like once your in ann arbor you don't want to let anyone change it ever or even move in unless your neibors house stays the same with the new owners. great home loved it


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 2:24 p.m.

A job well done! What magnificent home. Brad Moore should get an award for this beautiful design instead of the mouthy self serving comments posted. I think it should have been 18,000 s.f. Why? Because I believe in the free market system that once made our country great. Think of the jobs that one house created not to mention the real estate taxes that will go into the coffers for all to enjoy. That home was economic stimulus for hundreds of families. For all you fascist, tree hugging, land right stealing, nut jobs read the memo. This is private property!! These folks can build whatever they want the bigger the better. Long live the American Dream!


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 1:06 p.m.

Handsome house. Enormous, yes. But I don't have to clean it!

Tony Dearing

Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 12:14 p.m.

A comment was removed because it violated our conversation guidelines.


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 12:08 p.m.

Oh yes, instead of living in "obsene" houses made from natural materials we should all live in mud huts, preferably with no running water or electricity -we don't want to hurt good ol' Mother Nature. So, tree huggers why don't you step up and lead by example? You sure can talk the talk. Why not walk the walk? Kudos to the Kellmans and the architect -a job beautifully done.


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 8:36 a.m.

Dr. I Emsayin- Downtown Ann Arbor has already been built up for many years, the forests are long gone. Farm fields have gone with the winds. No one denies the owners a beautiful, albeit, expensive home. Jealousy is not part of the complaint here. One house, although quite large is better than 6 homes jammed into a tree-less, soul-less subdivision. You know, like the dozens of subdivisions surrounding Ann Arbor. At least the Kellman's have taste!

Dr. I. Emsayin

Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 7:15 a.m.

This seems to be the era where "we" hate everything that smacks of someone having more than we do. If we don't have great benefits, no one should have them, if we don't get a raise, no one should get one, if we can't afford our dream home, no one should build one. Yes, we want to conserve the earth and environment, but nobody these days is looking at the "sibling" rivalry aspect of our feelings of scarcity. We all want the big, loving mother (earth or otherwise) to offer US her riches. While I applaud the new-found taste for simpler, ecological dwelling, I'm not sure that the building up in downtown Ann Arbor is any less obscene than this dwelling given the energy and resources used.


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 7:01 a.m.

This must be Al Gore's version? How big is Al's house? How is my buddy Gore doing these days? How about that Global Warming anyone getting a chill these days from Washington?


Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 6:57 a.m.

8,000 square feet IS obscene. Not only that, but Brazilian Cherry is a threatened species due to over harvesting in certain regions!

Cathy Theisen DVM

Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 6:46 a.m.

An 8000 square foot house does not "blend" leaves a huge footprint and scars the previous landscape. While it may be beautiful on the inside, the habitat it displaced and the energy it uses are not at all beautiful for the environment.

Bob W

Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 6:25 a.m.

An 8,000 sq ft house, blending in with its surroundings on former farmland? Give me a break! How obsene!