Seaside Sanctuary

Dazzling views and distinctive design combine to make the ultimate family home in Homer

Story by Anna Mason • Photography by Kathryn Henry, Shiva Aerial Impressions

     

After years of high-rise apartments and crowded cities, Brad and Marisa Gathman wanted a home of their own, somewhere quiet where they had space and privacy. They were still living overseas for Brad’s job, so house shopping had to be done online or on short trips.

Builder/General Contractor:
New Homes by Needham
Interior Designers:
Kathryn Wierzbicki; Elke Mazzeo, Coordinators Interior Design
Electrician/Electrical:
KO Electric
Tile Work:
Josh Nordstrom, Tierra Tile
Plumbing:
Daleco
Dirt Work & Excavation:
Johnson & Sons
Roofing:
Allen White
Gutters:
Peninsula Rain Gutters
Gardens:
Brenda Adams,
Gardens by Design
Landscaping & Trees:
Alaska Hardy/Dutch Boy Landscaping
Shower Glass Doors & Garage Doors:
Lakeshore Glass
Carpet, Window Shades, Wood Flooring:
Amsos Carpets & Interiors
Kitchen Cabinets:
DeWils
Appliances:
Allen & Petersen
Custom Range Hood:
Raw Urth Designs
Light Fixtures:
Restoration Hardware; West Elm; Houghton Hill
Countertops:
Alaska Natural Stone Craft; MSI Stone
Furniture:
Furniture Classics; Restoration Hardware
Master Closet:
California Closets

After looking at dozens of homes and finding nothing that excited them, they started thinking about how to make their dream home a reality. Knowing that a remodel was a project they didn’t want to take on, they decided to buy a piece of property in Homer and build their own custom home. “We wanted something with a view of the ocean,” says Marisa.

“We had a lot of time to plan while we were still overseas, so we just started sketching designs on scratch paper,” adds Brad. The couple looked at home layouts and designs for inspiration, and Marisa spent a lot of time on Pinterest and Houzz looking for the perfect design elements. Once they had a design they liked, construction began. Phil Needham, of New Homes by Needham, worked with Brad and Marisa to make their home a reality. “Probably the most challenging thing was the distance,” says Phil. “They were out of the country and we had to schedule calls for questions and planning at some odd times.” The Gathmans and Kathryn Wierzbicki, the interior designer that helped with the home design during the construction stage, also agree that the long-distance portion of this build was the most difficult part.

Another challenge was just how custom this home was going to be. Designing most of it themselves with no prior experience meant that Marisa and Brad had to solve problems as they appeared. During construction, Marisa would travel back to Homer to check on the progress and make sure things were turning out the way she and Brad wanted. At one point, she realized that the windows in the living room needed to be lowered so they were at the proper height for the couple to enjoy the view from the couches. “We didn’t have everything planned when we started so we figured it out as we went, solving problems and moving things around,” says Phil. “They were super receptive to ideas that I had, so that made it easier.”

The one feature of the house that gets everyone talking is the huge wall of windows in the living room. “We wanted to maximize the view,” says Marisa. “We wanted to look out the window and see the bay and see the mountains and just see this beautiful piece of water in front of us. Brad will often work from the loft and open the blinds to enjoy the view.” Everyone that walks into their home pauses in front of the windows, appreciating the gorgeous view.

Those large windows look like they would be a challenge to engineer, says Phil, “But, the wall of windows wasn’t that hard. The house was built with trusses so that isn’t really a load-bearing wall, but the wind can get pretty harsh so we had to build to withstand that.”

Marisa loves the comfort features of her home, like the modern yet warm and inviting rooms she designed and the opulent ensuite master bathroom with an extra-spacious bathtub. The bathroom was Marisa’s pet project. “Brad let me do whatever I wanted with the bathroom,” she says. “I had stayed in a place with a bathroom with a lot of glass and marble and I absolutely loved it!” Marisa even designed the layout so that she can watch the TV above her gas fireplace while she soaks in the tub.

Even better than these luxuries are the small things she added for convenience. “Laundry room access is awesome,” Marisa says. She added a door to the laundry room from her master closet so that she didn’t have to lug laundry through the house. “I love that, and I also put in a central vacuum system because I have long dark hair and I hate seeing it everywhere.”

Not all of the custom features are just for Brad and Marisa though: “Alaskans get a lot of visitors,” says Brad. “We designed each bedroom with its own ensuite bathroom so everyone could have privacy, and we double insulated the walls so that everyone can feel like they don’t have to be quiet.” When Brad and Marisa have guests, everyone has their own space so that they can feel at home.

Even with all the customizations to this home, the best part of the house is still the view out of those large windows. “It’s so nice to come home from vacation and walk in to that view,” says Marisa. “I always think, ‘I’m the luckiest person to be able to see this view all the time.”