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Lure of the Lake

Timber Home Living, December 2013

Timber Frame Exterior at DuskDesigner Jake Lappan customized a design for Bill and Gwen May in Alberta, Canada. The deep eaves and multiple rooflines give the home character. A massive stone chimney works it way up throughout the center to create an extended “prow” for the view-facing side of the home.

Gwen and Bill May had spent many summers camping with their children on Lesser Slave Lake in Canyon Creek, Alberta – a 450-square-mile pristine body of water surrounded by dense Douglas fir forests in Canada’s wilderness. So, when a gently sloping, shorefront, two-acre lot came up for sale on the lake) a rare occurrence since much of the land is protected under conservation laws), the couple purchased the property and began making plans to build their dream home. Gwen and Bill wanted the new home to take advantage of the north-facing lake views and to have ample space to host their four grown children and grandchildren for holidays and summer fun. They came across an ad for Riverbend Timber Framing, and knew a timber home would be perfect for the location.

“The homeowners were looking for an open floor plan concept that would focus on the views,” notes Riverbend designer Jake Lappan. To accomplish this, Lappan successfully created a home that slowly exposes the views.

“You enter the home through an entry porch on the south side of the home which has a small curved king post truss,” Lappan notes. “The foyer has a standard-height ceiling and is purposely separated from the great room, creating a more intimate scale upon entry.” In this transitional space on the mail floor, Lappan tucked in other essentials such as an office, full bathroom, large pantry and closet. This placement allows for a small delay before entering the two-story vaulted great room, which is completely open to the dining area, the kitchen and the stairs to the second floor – as well as the breathtaking lake views beyond.

“To enter the great room, you walk under a timber-framed landing that leads into the master bedroom above,” notes Lappan. “The beams at the landing repeat the curved theme of the entryway with a gentle radius cutout underneath. That curve is repeated in the wide trusses spanning the 1,400-square-foot room.” A massive stone chimney flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors creates an extended “prow” and offers a dramatic composition to the space.

Finishing Touches

The couple wanted a unique look in the home, so they chose oak timbering through-out, which was supplied and built by Jason Beamish of BeamCraft Timber Framing, an authorized dealer for Riverbend. Bill acted as his own general contractor on the project, working with Gwen to choose just the right materials to create a warm, inviting space. “We love the patina and aged-look of the oak,” Gwen notes.

The couple chose a wide-plank hickory floor and white pine for the exposed ceiling. “The home looks as if it has been crafted from Old-World materials,” Gwen adds. Although the chimney is made of manufactured stone, the couple had the masons give it an antique look by adding uneven grout lines and varied coloring.

Timber Frame Great Room

Design Details

Since the entire kitchen is visible from the great room and dining area, Lappan wanted the kitchen to have a distinct feature, so he designed a Tuscan-Style arched stone alcove to house the commercial range. “We love to cook and entertain,” notes Gwen. “When the family is visiting, we mainly hangout in the great room – it keeps us connected.”

The master suite has a cozy scaled-down feel, which complements its position atop the upstairs landing, which offers grand views of both the living space below and the great lake. From the landing, French doors lead into the room, while two timber-framed posts and a smaller curved king post truss echo the timber theme of the home. “It was also important that a private area was created for guests that was not accessible directly from the house,” notes Lappan. “I designed a guest suite over the garage that features an enclosed private stairway.”

Outdoor living space was equally important to the couple because they spend so much time swimming, boating, fishing and even ice fishing on the lake. Lappan designed three covered timber-framed decks – one is just off of the dining area, the second is off the master bedroom, which extends their private living space, and the last is off the great room. “We love that the indoor and outdoor spaces blend together, making for a great party flow in the summer,” notes Gwen.

There is also a patio just off the lower level, which is protected form the weather. The couple incorporated a large firepit into the landscape, which they use all year long.

“Winters can be long but are so beautiful,” says Gwen. “We love every season on the lake.”

To view a complete photo gallery of this custom timber frame home visit, Slave Lake, Alberta Residence.

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