Contemporary craftsman

Story by Julia Moore

Photography by Northern Lens Real Estate Photography

  • Northern Lens Real Estate Photography Northern Lens Real Estate Photography
  • Northern Lens Real Estate Photography Northern Lens Real Estate Photography
  • Northern Lens Real Estate Photography Northern Lens Real Estate Photography
  • Northern Lens Real Estate Photography Northern Lens Real Estate Photography
  • Northern Lens Real Estate Photography Northern Lens Real Estate Photography
  • Northern Lens Real Estate Photography Northern Lens Real Estate Photography

KEY CONTRIBUTORS

General contractor & interior designer
Homeowner
Flooring
Florcraft
Windows
Builders Millwork Supply
Front door & deck door
Appwood Doors
Granite & living room fireplace stone
Alaska Natural Stone
All cabinets
Florcraft
All hardware
Hardware Specialties Inc.
Appliances
Allen & Petersen
Backsplash
DK Interiors
All tile & shower tile enclosures
DK Interiors
Roofing
Rain Proof Roofing
Paint/siding & deck
Xtreme Carpentry
Landscaping
Green Acres
Concrete
Red Dog Masonry
Staircase & railings
Trim Pro
Plumbing & radiant heat
Winkler Plumbing

Ben and Emma Williams moved through two houses in their 15 years living in the Anchorage bowl before taking the dive to build their own home from the ground up, ensuring their home had the craftsman-level detailing, quality construction and gorgeous views they desired.

Drafting the plans

The first step to building their home was finding the perfect design. The couple scouted new construction in Anchorage and Eagle River before walking into a beautiful home with the size and layout they were looking for. Working with the original architect, Karen Kassik-Michelsohn with Michelsohn & Daughter Construction, Ben and Emma purchased one-time rights to the floor plan, adding a wine cellar and a home office and changing the structure of the four-car garage. “A lot of homes in Alaska have big garages – they’re just a line of doors out front, and it takes away from the house,” Ben explains. To avoid this, they put two doors on each side of the garage, giving the driveway a distinct horseshoe shape.

The massive garage was essential during the construction of their home, since it was turned into a workshop for the fine details throughout. “I have a woodworking hobby,” says Ben, “We took the garage and turned it into a woodshop for the duration of the build.” The garage housed the hefty commercial-grade equipment, which was used to handcraft almost all of the cabinetry in the home – in the closets of the master bedroom, the wine room shelves and the downstairs bar. Ben and Emma also took the time perform all of the stone layup in the house themselves.

Time, patience and craftsmanship

The Williams planned all of their interior design and decorating themselves. The house has such a high level of craftsmanship, they needed time to balance the elaborate detail with the clean, contemporary appearance. “We didn’t sell our prior home until this home was completed and we were moved in – so we weren’t on a schedule,” says Ben, “which afforded us the opportunity to design the interior as the home developed.”

It was good that the level of craftsmanship in the home was a lengthy process. Skilled teams of contractors troweled the drywall – “ceilings, walls, everything” – by hand throughout the home. After, the solid-wood poplar trim was brush painted to avoid the “sprayed, auto-finished look.” There is no medium- or high-density particle board in the house at all – the trim, the handrails and the cabinetry are real wood.

“We were going for sort of a craftsman appeal but not deviating totally from a contemporary flair,” explains Ben. The fine touches and "craftsman appeal" of the home make the contemporary feel more comfortable. An example of this is the tall, enchanting wood-burning fireplace in the sitting room, where the family enjoys their morning coffee while taking in the views. Ben confides that designing the fireplace was the most challenging aspect of the home: “We were looking for something that wouldn’t overpower the room – that would look nice and add some contrast. It’s a high-end, cast-iron, large fireplace. The other fireplaces in the house are gas, but you want to get that natural warmth and feel of a wood fire,” he continues. After all, one of the main goals for the home was to create an atmosphere where guests would feel relaxed, and the fireplace and craftsmanship details create that inviting, warm welcome.

A home for many – or for just two

The home is equipped with durable hardwood floors throughout, prepared for the feet of many guests for years to come. “We wanted the house to be comfortable for people – it’s a shoes-on environment, free of carpet,” says Ben. The butler pantry and kitchen were designed to support caterers for large parties – sometimes the Williams’ have had over 50 people in the home without it feeling crowded.

In part, this is because of the tasting table in their wine cellar, where the couple pairs cheeses and foods with their prized wines. “It’s a nice conversational room, but it also allows us to share wine that we brought back from France and other vacations,” says Ben. The room is also equipped with LED lights designed for outdoor and deck areas that the couple adapted to showcase their wine collection.

During the holidays, Ben and Emma spend about four days sprucing up the home to celebrate the festive season with friends and family. The house is adorned with decorations, from garlands on the handrails to the seven Christmas trees throughout the home – including a 16-foot-tall tree that goes up every year in the sitting room. “With this, the snow, the view of the mountains, it creates a magical space for the Christmas season,” Ben says.

“It’s a great home, you could put a large family in it, but it’s also one that people who entertain a lot can enjoy. Quite honestly, it’s very enjoyable for just my wife and me.”

*The homeowners’ names were changed.