Story by Tosha Kelly • Photography by Photo Arts by Janna
Visualize escaping to your favorite vacation spot without ever leaving home. Many Alaskans are now living that dream. These flexible, enclosed living spaces are special sanctuaries filled with loads of natural light and an airy outdoor feel. They also boast unlimited uses – from a relaxing retreat to party central. So, why feel cooped up all winter long? Check out these three special spaces that make every day a vacation day, no matter what the season.
Perched on the edge of a secluded Oceanview bluff, Karen Walsh’s gazebo offers a restful retreat overlooking the inlet and Turnagain Arm. “The view is so gorgeous and it just extends the property to me,” says Karen. “It’s an oasis.”
Karen and the builder, Don Tice of Alaskan Legacy Co., spontaneously designed the structure on a napkin. She knew she wanted a gazebo to capture the view, says Don, but she didn’t want just any gazebo. Originally it was going to be an open gazebo and then it evolved, says Karen. “It turned into an extension of the home.”
The modernized gazebo was built with a cedar frame and Shakertown cedar siding. Karen especially likes the pattern of the cedar tongue and groove ceiling. The slate floor and warm amber glow of the sconces give the gazebo a cozy at-home feeling – a perfect setting for a glass of wine after work.
To ensure the space can be a year-round retreat, they installed a small wood stove made especially for small spaces. “When the first snowflakes fall it’s a great place to read,” Karen says.
When Lisa and Eric Maurer needed to replace their deck, they decided to maximize their southern exposure with a sunroom. They called in the help of Rick Grant of Four Seasons Sunrooms/R.D. Grant Co. and chose the Victorian Conservatory in a rich, natural wood. “This particular Old English design appealed to the homeowners because of its energy efficiency and wood interior,” says Grant. “The wood interior blended well with the rest of their décor.”
“I love the light we get in the conservatory, both in summer and winter,” says Lisa. The high-performance windows ensure that the summers are cooler without glare and brightness, and winters are warmer by retaining the indoor heat.
Because the Maurers’ home was built on a steep slope, they struggled with ground retaining issues. “We eventually brought in Faltz Landscaping, who re-built our retaining walls in boulders, and added a water feature at the steepest part of the slope that had become very difficult to maintain and plant. This gave us additional space for a stone patio just outside of the conservatory, and really helped to tie in our deck and conservatory with the outdoor space,” says Lisa.
“While we love our decks and patios, the work Four Seasons has done has really helped us to enjoy these spaces far beyond the summer months.” Lisa loves watching the seasons change, and the sunroom gives her the perfect vantage point to watch changes in the landscape colors and light. “Sunsets, both in winter and summer, are amazing.”
As you walk into this elegant Prominence Pointe home, you can’t help but notice the towering, light-filled atrium. With its double-T paver flooring and stucco walls, it’s the focal point of the home says current owner, Cheryl Canter. The Canters bought the home in 2010, and the atrium is what attracted them to the house. “It was a big selling point because it was different. Everybody that comes to our house loves it.”
The 20-foot-tall atrium features a pyramid-like glass ceiling installed by Capitol Glass Northerm Windows, infloor radiant heat and a warm exhaust system so it doesn’t get too hot in the summer. Cheryl’s favorite aspect of the space is the ceiling. “It is most beautiful when it just starts to snow,” she says.
The builder and previous owner, Bill Bousquet of Bousquet Construction Services, originally built the atrium for natural light and atmosphere. He enjoyed having his Alaskan “breakfast al fresco” in the atrium, which also housed his orchid collection for a couple of years. “It was pretty cool,” he says. “It’s a very pleasant environment.”