Elegance on the Airstrip

Thoughtful design balances a home with a hangar

Story by Jamey Bradbury • Photography by Kevin G. Smith Photography

When homeowners Paul and Allison Masters decided to build a new home on a piece of land they owned near the airstrip, they wanted something similar to their existing house: a semi-open floor plan and a traditional shingled hip roof. “We just wanted to add a living room and an airplane hangar,” says Paul, who is an avid flyer.

Blue Sky Studio
General contractor:
Hawkinson Construction Inc.
Carlisle Wide Plank Floors
Spark Modern Fires
Marvin Windows and Doors; Gienow Windows & Doors; and Buke Glass
Summit Windows & Doors, Inc.
Kitchen and bath countertops and island:
Alaska Marble & Granite
Jon's Woodworking
Mockett; Schlage; and Valli & Valli
Allen & Petersen Cooking & Appliance Center
Brown's Electric
Kitchen backsplash and tile:
Pacific Tile
Bath hardware:
Bathroom tile:
Superior Tile and Stone
Bathroom flooring:
Pacific Tile
Bathroom lighting:
Brown's Electric; and YLighting
Rain Proof Roofing, LLC
Paint and/or siding:
Rain Proof Roofing, LLC; Hawkinson Construction Inc.
Hannah Masonry; and Roland Baldwin, Pacific Tile
Garage door:
Schweiss Doors
Treeline Construction
Northland Concrete, LLC
Staircase and railings:
Dunlap Builders; Hawkinson Construction Inc.; General Mechanical, Inc.
Plumbing and radiant heat:
Partusch Plumbing & Heating
Sprinkler systems:
Chinook Fire Protection, Inc.
HVAC system:
Northern Sheetmetal Fabricators
Well and Septic:
Daniel Moran, Pannone Engineering Services, LLC
Jeff Roberson, Schneider and Assoc.

Initially, architect Catherine Call of Blue Sky Studio planned to camouflage the 8,000-square-foot hangar by making it look like the house it would be attached to. “But when you try to put a shingle roof on a hangar that has a 20-foot high door, it starts to look ridiculous,” she says.

Instead, she devised a more contemporary, slanted roof. “That was a big moment in the design,” Catherine recalls. The change led to a reimagining of many elements of the home, both outside and in.

Optical Illusions

Though it’s connected to a hangar big enough to hold two airplanes, from the road the Masters' house doesn’t look all that imposing. That’s because Catherine angled the roof to make the front of the house seem shorter, while the back of the house takes advantage of mountain views with 14-foot windows.

Catherine also employed a variety of materials to further disguise the hangar. “We used what I call a ‘color blocking’ strategy to break up the boxy look of the hangar by creating panels of different kinds of siding,” she describes.

A board-formed concrete exterior on the office and laundry room area offers another contrast in texture and color to the front of the house, while storefront windows in the concrete portion soften the façade.

From Obstacle to Opportunity

“Paul and Allison were really open to exploring new ideas; we had a very fluid design process,” Catherine says. That kind of flexibility turned out to be crucial in turning construction problems into possibilities.

For example, as the construction crew began to remove dirt from the area where the hangar would go, they discovered about 27 feet of “bad” fill – soil that isn’t suitable for structural bearing capacity. Paul, who works for an Anchorage commercial construction company, did the numbers and discovered that for the money he might spend on hauling in gravel to fill the area, he could build a gym instead.

“The gym wasn’t initially part of the plan, but it turned out to be a big benefit to our family,” he says. “We homeschool our kids, so the house is a big part of life, and the gym addition is a real blessing.”

Inner Workings

Above the gym, the hangar features exposed casework, while the swimming pool area that connects the hangar to the house employs timber framing for a look that builder Jon Hawkinson of Hawkinson Construction calls “modern meets rustic.”

Because the family spends so much time at home, Catherine created special spaces where the family can be together. For the kids, there’s a two-level playroom that’s accessed by a spiral staircase; to get back to the lower level, the children can either descend the stairs or take a trip down a slide. Another spiral staircase leads to a second-story deck with outdoor fire pits.

A third staircase greets visitors as they enter the house – though they might miss it at first glance. The open metal-and-cable staircase is cleverly hidden behind a raw steel plate that backdrops a small water fountain, a planting bed and a Steve Ellis painting. Just above this display, Catherine hung Bocci ball lights at various lengths, turning a light fixture into a work of art.

In the Details

“I wanted something that looked like it was from a time gone by,” Paul says of his home’s walnut floors. The builder used Carlisle solid walnut planks, rather than modern wood flooring, which doesn’t typically come in longer lengths; some of the planks are nearly 16 feet long.

The floors complement the family’s 16-foot solid walnut dining table, where the family loves to host friends and relatives. Nearby, a fireplace made of stone brought in from Hope casts a warm glow. A second, two-sided fireplace divides the family and living rooms.

In the kitchen, zebra wood and espresso-toned wooden cabinets provide a contrast to the walnut floors. Suelo Marino granite countertops and an Oceanside glass tile backsplash give the room some sparkle.

Commercial-grade, Residential Charm

The home wasn’t built in a day, but it came close. “Paul’s in construction, too, and he was pretty aggressive; he said, ‘I want it done in a year,’ ” Jon recalls. “I thought, there’s no way. But Paul helped me organize things, we got our ducks in a row, and we were done in 13 or 14 months.”

“In the commercial world, we just can’t waste any time,” Paul explains. “It drives the cost up too much. So we do things like install a finish before you think it’s time to do it, and then we protect that finish in a solid way so it’s not damaged as we keep working.”

With Paul’s guidance, Jon and his crews were able to speed up their process, even when confronted with building code issues that required them to install a sprinkler system or while engineering the heavy-duty hydraulics that allow the powerful hangar door to open by remote control.

“The house is really a commercial-grade product,” Jon says. “But it’s finished off and beautiful, with elegant finishes and architectural elements. It’s a big house, but it doesn’t feel grandiose. It’s a house that wants to hug you.”

*The homeowners’ names have been changed.