Scio Township house in the woods bows to the trees that surround it
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:
â€¢ The exotic Brazilian cherry, called Tigerwood because of its varied texture and color, used for the flooring that runs throughout.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ The great room mantle made of natural mesquite from Texas.
â€¢ The Douglas fir used for the vaulted ceiling and beams in the great room.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ The cedar used for the exterior (where it’s partnered with natural stone) and for some of the beams in the great room.
â€¢ 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.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.