Beachside Beauty

Story by Julia Moore

Photography by Mark Pierson Photography

Home Staging by Designer Interiors

After living in their family home for more than 20 years, Lela and Scott Rosin were drawn to the Kenai Peninsula waterfront. When they decided to move, they realized nothing beats raising kids in a house where beachside strolls, fishing and wildlife spotting are all do-able on their own property, creating a healthy and truly Alaskan lifestyle.

Tony Doyle, Creative Designers
General contractor:
Tim Moerlein,
Moerlein General Contracting
Tulikivi stove, Treeforms
Windows & doors:
Spenard Builders Supply
Kitchen appliances:
Allen & Petersen
The Lighting Gallery by Brown’s
Scott Hamann, Metal Magic
Rug Bones; 4D Interior; Home Depot
Roofing & exterior paint:
Spenard Builders Supply
Custom gutters & rain chain:
Rain Tech
Stonework & concrete:
Dave Tomlin, Alaska’s Outstanding Concrete
Garage door:
Home Depot
Moore Enterprises;
Rock Bottom Enterprise
Staircase, railing & tiling:
Brad Demientieff
Plumbing & toilet:
M&J Plumbing
Radiant heat:
Johnson & Sons
Sprinkler systems:
Colton Sprinklers
Security systems:
Audio/visual installation:
Audio Concepts
Fireweed Fence
Custom woodwork in conical ceiling & living room:
Poppert Milling
Gas firepit:
The Fireplace Store
Electrical contractor:
JH Electric
Outdoor hot tub:
Arctic Spa
A little magic in the kitchen

Every night, Lela turns on music and cooks dinner, while taking in panoramic views of the mountains and Cook Inlet, in the kitchen that she had planned with her designer, Tony Doyle of Creative Designers.

“For 16 years at our old house, my stovetop faced the wall,” Lela explains. But now, while cooking, she can view sunsets over the inlet, the Alaska Range, Mt. Redoubt, Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Spur. In the summer, she can watch the ocean at high tide, see eagles soaring or salmon jumping – “all while making moose lasagna!” she adds. “Needless to say, as a result, we cook often and usually together.”

Gathering for family meals in the Rosins’ dining room includes special treats – from the large windows that showcase sweeping views to the unique conical ceiling made from custom, hand-cut birch tongue and groove from a local mill.

One of the home’s best-kept secrets, however, is in the pantry. “I call it my Narnia pantry because you don’t know it’s there, but it’s like a room inside,” says Lela. The door to the pantry is nestled between the fridge and the ovens, making it almost completely out-of-sight – nobody would ever guess there’s an entire room with its own fridge! Right after the family moved in, they put the Narnia pantry to use while hosting Scott’s parents’ 50th anniversary party, their middle daughter’s prom get-together and her graduation party.

Tony says this was exactly Lela’s goal: having a space to entertain family and friends of all ages and be connected to nature.

Warm and welcoming for the entire family

On a more day-to-day basis, Lela loves having a house so large that it can welcome all of their family. In winter, the whole family will gather around the fire to play cards or make pizza in the Tulikivi stove. “Our Tulikivi stands in the heart of our home, a central gathering place between the living room and the kitchen.”
Not only is the warmth this stove provides during the winter something to smile about – so is the monthly heating bill. “My husband will light a fire and it will stay warm to the touch for 40 hours, so we can sit on the bench around it. In winter our heating bill is only like $200 even though our house is so big, because it emanates heat for so long.”

Meeting needs for today and tomorrow

Scott and Lela designed their home to be large enough not only to accommodate family visiting, but to plan for the future, too. If their parents ever needed a place to live or someone to watch over them, they’re covered. And if Scott or Lela – or one of their children – has limited mobility in the future, there’s almost a full suite downstairs with space to add an elevator.

The ground level of their home is one elevation; it has its own bathroom and a bar area, created from corrugated metal that Scott found from an old cannery, and features a sturdy, Cairo walnut bartop. If needed, a stove could be easily installed to transform the area into a kitchen.

To top it off, all of the walkways along the house are on radiant heaters to avoid icing over in the winters, making it safe for their oldest and youngest guests. “We really planned on growing old in this house,” Lela says about the design.

A perfect team of ideas

Building a big family home often comes with big stress, but from beginning to end, Lela says her expert team was calm – and even enjoyed the process. Lela and designer Tony passed ideas and pencil sketches of the home back and forth, each pitching their own ideas. One of Tony’s big-impact suggestions was creating a 45-degree angle from the garage extending through to the kitchen and dining area of the home. “When you come into the entry of the building and walk up the stairs, not everything is a right angle or boxy – it has more flow,” explains Tony.

Tim Moerlein, of Moerlein General Contracting, had a similar experience building the Rosin home. “It actually restored my faith in big houses,” he says. “It was just a really enjoyable house to build.” What made the project fun for everyone was the entire team’s level of contribution. Nearly every subcontractor on his team contributed unique ideas for the home, which Lela loved. One crewmember recognized Lela’s affinity for copper and suggested doing a penny-tiled floor in their bathroom; another took the plain square tiles for the dining room and cut them to look like waves in the inlet just outside, and also created a custom diamond willow handrail to give the entryway staircases that “wow” factor.

Diamond willow is “like a hidden gem,” says Lela. At first, it may look like any other willow tree, but when you remove the bark and sand it down, you reveal a diamond pattern along the curves of the wood. Since the railing would have to be from multiple pieces of wood – and since the wood they were using was found as far away as Holy Cross and the Yukon River – making a railing to the safety code was quite a feat. But they did it – “they made what we thought was impossible to do, a reality!” says Lela.

The diamond willow and corrugated cannery metal are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Alaskan history built into the home. The home also features functional local artwork, like the bench at the foot of their bed, built by Grady Keyser in Ruby with antlers from Alaskan animals. They have more artwork from across the state housed on shelves, showcased by LED lighting above.

A stress-free project – even when it almost burned down

When disaster struck halfway through the build, the team remained cool and collected. An extension cord shorted out, bringing the Rosins’ garage to flames. The fire traveled from the garage up the stairs, blowing out every window in its path. Thankfully, the $70,000 worth of cabinets for the home were not being stored in the garage, and the team’s taper arrived a couple hours early, spotting the fire and extinguishing it before more damage could be done. Putting his vacation to Hawaii on hold, Tim called his entire crew in for damage control.
“We went and got lunch for the guys,” remembers Lela. “They literally had over 20 guys there that ripped it all apart, fixed it right away. Even something so stressful still wasn’t that stressful.”

A healthy appreciation of Alaska beauty

If building the home was a stress-free project, living there is blissful – and active. Every day, the Rosins are on the beach either on a bike or walking with a leash in hand. Even their newest grandbaby, who is just a week old, is enjoying the fresh air.

One important factor to the Rosins was making the outdoors truly accessible – and to be able to withstand the brutal Alaska winters. To keep the views intact, the couple wanted their railing to look as though it didn’t exist at all but remain safe. The result is a beautiful glass railing with grooved edges on top and bottom, including LED lights to increase its visibility in winter – and to look stunning!

The couple also chose a stone firepit to be built into their deck, and a hot tub quiet enough that they can watch the northern lights in the winter while listening to the nearby waves hit the shore. During the summer, when the midnight sun finally sets, Lela and the kids cuddle up under a blanket by their outdoor firepit and watch as the light fades.

Lela reflects on how life in their new home embraces so many of the special things our great state has to offer. “I’ve lived here for almost 37 years, and I’ve never appreciated Alaska more.”