Gretchen Atwell used a sledgehammer, a drill, an ax, chains, chisels, saws, rocks and sandpaper to thrash the beautiful exposed wood beams in her newly constructed home.
She had not lost her mind; she was decorating.
Rather than hauling in reclaimed timbers for the framing of her family's house at 693 Anglers Court, she battered and bruised new, clean, straight timbers to make them look old. The surface of the timbers is now covered with chisel marks and splotched with heavier indentations and screw holes to resemble the bracketed joints of a proverbial former structure.
"After the workers spent their time dancing around the beams trying to protect them, I beat the daylights out of 'em," Atwell said.
"She was in excellent mental health," Realtor Patti MacArthur said with a laugh, acknowledging the stress-relief benefits Atwell got hammering on the timbers.
Atwell worked on more than just the timbers; she had input in many facets of the construction and design of her home.
"Gretchen is a very creative builder," builder Mike Ramsey said. "She put forth a major effort to make it the way she wanted it."
Throughout the house are pieces of wrought iron, which give it an almost medieval look. The ironwork in the handrails of the stairs and deck, light fixtures, and metal bands on the framework and cabinetry are the collaborative work of Atwell and Ken Allen of Legacy Furnishings.
Some of the designs Atwell proposed were routine for Allen to build, while others were more outside the box, Allen said.
"Gretchen has some strange ideas, but they end up working," Allen said.
One of her strange ideas was building a steel table to hold the powder-room sink. The steel table holds a plumbed sink, leaving open space underneath it and demanding attention and awe from whomever uses the bathroom.
Walking through thick, tall, wooden double doors, visitors are greeted by enormous stressed beams holding up the ceiling and a slate floor at the entry.
Atwell also customized the slate floor of the entryway in an unorthodox manner. She ordered large slabs of slate to the construction site and busted them in front of the builders.
"Most people buy those big pieces because they want to use big pieces," Ramsey said. "That's highly unusual to buy that material and break it up, but she made it work. And it turned out really good."
Adding to the Old World feel of the house are authentic reclaimed timbers in the floor. The wooden planks are antique heart pine from an old rice warehouse in Louisiana, Atwell said.
The ceiling in the great room is almost 25 feet high at the highest point, and the room also features a large rock, gas/wood fireplace. The main attractions of the great room, however, are the huge rectangular windows and glass doors that lead to a deck with up-close views of the slopes of Mount Werner.
Perched on a high ledge on Anglers Court, the house also provides clear views of the South Routt valley.
The colors and textures of the walls add to the uniqueness of the home. The bedroom is painted metallic green and the dining room is a deep red. The kitchen and breakfast nook are painted a pale yellow.
The five-bedroom, 5 1/2-bathroom, 6,500-square-foot home has an oversized three-car garage for large vehicles or extra storage and a couple of mudrooms to leave wet shoes and coats. A full, finished basement includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a large laundry/utility room.
The fifth bedroom is on the main floor, on the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom. Perched above the garage, the large guest space is tucked away for complete privacy, and the room is plumbed for a possible kitchen.
The main kitchen features high-end appliances and plumbing fixtures and custom cabinets, designed by Atwell.
Although many of her ideas were implemented in some shape or form in the construction of the house, Atwell said she was glad to have Ramsey's expert advice.
"Mike told me no when I needed to be told no," Atwell said. "He helped me financially build the house with a budget."
The home was built between 2000 and 2002 to be the Atwell family's permanent residence. However, after living there briefly, the family is considering moving to be closer to family.
"It's a home we built to be comfortable and easy," Atwell said.
The house is being offered at $2.55 million by MacArthur Real Estate. Call 879-7883.
-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204
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