Shop Home: Big House, Small Living

Many homes have their own shop. But how about a shop with its own home? Sammye and Vince Pokryfki’s new home in Wasilla features more shop space than living space – and that’s exactly how they wanted it.

Key Contributors

Last Frontier
Contracting, LLC
Alaska Plans
Sammye Pokryfki
Flooring & tile:
Carpet World of Alaska
Allen & Petersen
Steve Lebida, LLC
Kitchen & bathroom cabinets & countertops:
Kustom Kitchen & Design, Inc
Metal siding:
Magic Metals
Doors & windows:
Builders Millwork

If you enjoy entertaining, you've probably noticed that charcuterie boards are everywhere these days. You've seen them in magazines, on Instagram, and at your best friend's last party. And it's easy to see why: Charcuterie boards are a win for everyone involved.

Before building their new home, Sammye and Vince, who were approaching retirement age, knew they wanted to downsize their living space to fit just the two of them while creating space for their many hobbies. A “shop home” was the perfect solution: One with a large shop on the first floor and a smaller living area on the second floor.

Today, the couple loves how their 2,400-square-foot shop has plenty of room for everything, from storing recreational vehicles to space for Vince to keep up with his wood- and metal-working projects. The home is also easy to secure whenever it’s time to close up shop. “We travel a lot,” explains Sammye. “It’s nice to be able to just put everything – ATVs, boat, cars, all of it – in the shop, lock it up, and leave town without worrying.” The second floor features 1,200 square feet of living space, including two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a large 10x40-foot deck that extends their living space to the great outdoors. “It turned out great,” says Sammye.

Far from looking too industrial, the home’s dark, angular, modern exterior is immediately eye-catching. Large windows, warm cedar wood accents against the black metal siding, and a distinctly Alaskan splash of red salmon metal artwork by local artist Cindy Shake all give the home a welcoming feel.

Interestingly, Sammye and Vince have lived in the same neighborhood for over a decade. In fact, they used to live in the house next door, where one of their children now lives, along with grandkids that visit frequently. “It’s wonderful to watch the kids run through the backyard playing, and they come over all the time,” says Sammye. A highchair in her kitchen and a baby gate on the porch hint at just how much time the grandkids spend with her. This proximity is no accident: the Pokryfkis owned the lot their new home sits on long before they built it.

Designing and building a home is never a simple process, however. Sammye worked closely with the architect and builder to make a few modifications and incorporate her own ideas. “One thing we did that was unusual, is that we built in the winter,” says Sammye. “They warned us that the concrete slab in the shop might crack once the ground thawed. It did, but none of the cracks affected the integrity of the slab.” That warning came from General Contractor Brian Turner of Last Frontier Contracting, LLC. Brian worked with Sammye and Vince, from design to completion, to build a home that suited their needs. Building a house with such large tall walls during the winter was challenging, says Brian. “The framing of this shop house is not your typical 2x6’s; it wouldn’t hold up being so tall and open with many large windows.”

Sammye and Vince’s living space is just as sleek as the exterior. In the bathrooms, the cabinets, flooring and shower tile in various hues of gray are paired with crisp white counters and silver fixtures providing a look of modern elegance. The gray wood-grain flooring extends throughout the living spaces punctuated by light-colored walls and lots of large windows for an abundance of brightness. Locally milled birch wood from Poppert Milling is also featured prominently throughout the interior of the house, including an entire birch wood accent wall in one of the bedrooms that Sammye and Vince use as an office. Vince’s metal- and wood-working skills also came in handy while the house was being built: He constructed the metal railing for the interior staircase and helped build the outdoor deck.

The kitchen, however, is the focal point of the space. “The kitchen was completely (Sammye’s) design -- from the cabinetry orientation, bamboo wood selection and countertops, to the Top Zero sinks,” notes Vince. “It’s my favorite part of the house,” says Sammye. “I’m a pie baker so I really designed the kitchen around the oven!” She and Vince worked with Chuck and Dave at Kustom Kitchen & Design, Inc. to make their kitchen truly one-of-a-kind. “The (couple) wanted a contemporary sleek kitchen,” says Chuck. “After looking at many options it was decided the only way to achieve this look was with our custom-made bamboo cabinets.” Sammye loves the cabinets for their unique look and for being sourced sustainably, and because they won’t fade with UV light exposure. “There’s so much sunlight in the house that you can’t avoid it, and I didn’t want my cabinets to change color.” The cabinets aren’t the only unique element of the room. The glossy black tile backsplash holds an ultra-modern surprise: “It’s actually metal!” Sammye says with a laugh. “The sales person said it was the first time they’d ever sold it. You don’t see metal tiles a lot, and I like the novelty.”

As for what Sammye and Vince think of the house now that it’s finished, Sammye says: “There’s always things that you would do a little bit differently, looking back, but we’re very happy.”