dreams of yesteryear

A one-of-a-kind historically inspired home blends rustic charm and warmth
with modern conveniences

Story by Julia Moore • Photography by Alaska Virtual Digital Photo

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  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo
  • Alaska Virtual Digital Photo Alaska Virtual Digital Photo

Concrete, exposed steel and heavy timber: elements that seem like the antithesis of the materials for a warm, cozy house. But when combined with radiant heating, the soft glow of antique lighting, and 360-degree mountain and glacial views, this Girdwood home provides the most comfortable space to warm your hands on a mug of peppermint tea during the winter months.

Architect:
Z Architects
General contractor:
EE/CC Fine Homes
Flooring & siding:
EE/CC Fine Homes;
Big Timberworks
Windows:
Jeld-Wen,
Spenard Builders Supply
Hardware:
Restoration Hardware
Appliances:
Allen & Petersen
Bathroom countertops (zinc & copper):
Anchorage Sheetmetal
Bathtub & surrounding concrete:
Diversified Tile
Roofing:
Iron Ox
Landscaping:
EE/CC Fine Homes; Alaska Arborists
Staircase & railings:
Anchorage Sheetmetal
Plumbing & radiant heat:
Bowman Mechanical
Timber structure (reclaimed Douglas Fir):
Big Timberworks

The home’s sturdy reclaimed timber frame and large, open windows are the result of a compromise between the homeowner Sally Randich’s vision of the “modern rustic home” and her husband Kyle’s dream of the “mining / warehouse motif.” After several years, many bottles of wine and a book called Old Wood, New House, Sally and Kyle created a marriage of styles that would be artfully constructed by local craftsmen at EE/CC Construction and Z Architects.

Light-filled rooms with a view

When walking in, a wood inlaid compass on the floor points the way to the expansive living area. This inviting space, where Sally hosts gatherings and holiday celebrations, serves up a striking view of surrounding mountains and glaciers through soaring two-story windows. The home, as Sally describes, has “a welcoming and earthly appeal. It is a place where you feel comfortable to put your feet up and enjoy the view.”

The view continues when moving throughout the home. The black, mill-grade steel railing leads upstairs to the loft where a wide, arching window oversees snow-capped mountains and glaciers. Even the circular window above the heated concrete tub in the master bath provides a peek at the woods and mountains beyond. Along with providing magnificent displays of Alaska wilderness, well-placed windows in every room flood the home with natural light.

An ambitious work of art

“We had always admired the old mining towns and ranches and how the weathered wood from these historic structures displayed so much character,” says Sally, explaining the inspiration behind the design. The couple used an outsourcing company in Montana to gather unique pieces of reclaimed timber from around the country to make the home’s frame, sliding doors, trim, walls and ceiling. While these reclaimed woods were perfect materials for a rustic mining home, turning them into a natural structure like those found in Kennecott proved to be an ambitious task.

From the beginning of construction, the heavy timber frame was an intense undertaking, but the house soon took on a life of its own. The welder and fabricator spent months making each connection unique and organic in a way that Marco Zaccaro of Z Architects would later describe as “played by ear, sight and hands,” demonstrating the years of experience and skill of the craftsmen involved.

Inside the home, the team took on many more design challenges. They joined multiple fireplaces into one concrete chimney, stemming from the polished, radiant-heated concrete floors. They also worked with the couple to build tracks on the flooring to guide a custom-built mining cart into the living area to entertain guests and provide spirits.

“The Randich home is a great example of a collaborative design process between the owner, the contractor and architect,” Marco says, fondly recalling the tremendous teamwork involved in the home’s design and construction.

Aging to perfection

An “old house aspect” was key in Sally’s vision of the home. While traveling in the Southwest, she and Kyle hunted for the perfect antiques to bring this vision to life, shipping the found pieces home to Alaska. They also ordered new and old lights and plumbing fixtures online, leaving the new metals out in the rain to rust.
The copper and brass sinks and zinc countertops also will develop a patina over the years similar to the rust-colored, weathered roofing and decorations in front of the home.

Bricks in the dining room fireplace are from the old Libby Cannery, which caught fire in 1921, adding a touch of history for guests to take in while warming from an evening ski or hike.

From the outside to the inside, there are few tells indicating the home’s true, youthful age – possibly only the running water, electricity and modern appliances. Like the mountains around it, this Girdwood home stands as a work of art out of time, aging closer to perfection.

“During the research phase of our design, I had run across a Japanese word for patina,” recalls Sally. “They call it Sabi and that is what we always intended to call the house: The Sabi House.”