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Home Within The Trees


The home’s open concept shows off the main living area with expansive windows that overlook the pool. Sofas from Cassina and an Eames Lounge Chair are some of the furnishings here.

A few years ago, Elaine McPike ventured out with a realtor friend to scout properties. She was in the market for a new place, perhaps a townhouse. But a “For Sale” sign on a corner lot in Highland Village prompted an about-face.

“I saw this lot and everything just flipped in my mind. I saw these great oak trees and just imagined the most fantastic house sitting there. The neighborhood, too, had a lovely, amazing vibe to it, like a tiny New York City where you walk everywhere with shopping right around the corner … just a great energy with people out everywhere! I totally pictured living here.”

Elaine was exposed to the modern aesthetic that emanated from the Bauhaus movement, having lived in Brussels for many years. Her tastes evolved to the point that she had replaced traditional pieces with classic modern furniture. “The streamlined look, that type of aesthetic that I’d see in Architectural Digest … I just grew to love it!” she explains. “It’s just so clean and serene.”

Her streamlined classics looked great in her traditional home, but she yearned for a sleek, modern dwelling to go with them. A friend recommended award-winning architect Val Glitsch, known for her thoughtful, modern designs.

“Val never saw the furniture because it was already in storage. She just saw pictures and got measurements. She literally built this house for my furniture. And she was genius!” Elaine exclaims.

The homeowner encountered a slight glitch while working with Glitsch, however. Which house plan to choose? “She did four little models, all equally wonderful and I just couldn’t bring myself to decide! Finally, she had to pick for me. It was a nice problem to have, such great options!”

The result is a carefully thought-out residence that is as much about the outdoors as the indoors. The stucco home with metal roof sits sideways on the lot with a long lap pool on its east side that allows for shaded outdoor relaxation in the afternoon. An aluminum awning with acrylic top runs the length of the house poolside. A porch on the front of the house instantly lets the outdoors in, engaging the exterior even more with the sweep of large floor-to-ceiling doors.

“The trees shade the house, the house shades the pool,” says Glitsch. “And putting the house on this side meant that the pool was away from the street.”

The house was carefully framed within large oak trees, one of them so mammoth that it shades a neighbor’s home in front as well. “That was so important to us, that the trees not be harmed,” says Elaine.

Glitsch’s careful attention to the home’s placement makes for interesting light streams and shadow play against the walls as the day evolves. “And at night in my bedroom there’s this stream of moonlight that comes in,” says Elaine.

Nearly every room gets a garden view. In this case, a breezy cast of easy-care foliage by the landscape company, Asakura Robinson: rice paper plants and Japanese parasol trees, society iris that gingerly droop toward the pool, a green wall of Japanese Yews.

Plants are integral to the dwelling’s interior also, with Patrice Watine of Greencare Interior Plants Care tending to a variety of orchids and plants that add a delicate sculptural essence to the home. “I am a plant lover. I think they add a gracefulness to the space,” Elaine explains.➝

Elaine couldn’t be happier with her new abode.

A spirited woman with plenty on her schedule (she is working toward a psychology degree at the University of St. Thomas), she loves coming home to an uncluttered, spacious dwelling that suits her furniture and, more importantly, her. “I don’t know what it is, but having a place like this that is uncluttered is so freeing to the mind. It makes me more organized and it makes me happy every time I come home to it,” she says. “It just feels, well … nice.”

Concrete floors, maple wood floors, maple cabinetry and a mix of industrial elements give the dwelling a sleek, non-fussy urban look that is inviting rather than cold.

Visitors to the home enter through an acrylic sheathed gate that opens into a beautiful poolside courtyard. Once inside, concrete floors sweep through the open downstairs floorplan into living room, kitchen and breakfast room.

The living area is large enough to accommodate three couches, two of them Cassina sofas smartly outfitted with side tables attached. An iconic Eames lounge chair adds to this mix. Indeed, the entire home is smartly outfitted in stylish, high-end modern pieces. Elaine credits interior designer Trina Jones Stanfield with properly placing the pieces and helping to choose outdoor furniture.

One of Elaine’s favorite spots in the house, the porch, gets a lot of use. “I’m out there every morning with my paper and coffee and my cat, Sawyer,” says Elaine. “It’s my favorite part of the downstairs.”

The kitchen overlooks it all with maple cabinetry and soapstone countertops with stripes of white.

The upstairs is equally well thought-out with industrial details such as a perforated aluminum railing that frames the loft-style den/exercise room/study, providing a keen vantage point from which to view the downstairs, pool and garden.

This combination room is warmly outfitted in maple floors and a full wall of maple shelving and cabinetry that contains a myriad of sentimental knick-knacks, collections, art, books and other memorabilia. At one end, especially treasured symbols of her mother’s and father’s careers — her mother’s nurse cap and the doctor bag her father toted around during his long career as an OBGYN. A grouping of Le Corbusier sofa and chairs share space with a Noguchi glasstop coffee table here.

The master bedroom with large walk-in closet and accompanying bathroom in warm, earth tones (Ann Sacks glass tile, Avonite countertops and Sea grass limestone underfoot) rounds out the upstairs at one end, while a guest bedroom and bathroom anchors the other. The utility room is also conveniently located upstairs.

“We’ve made every use of the space in this house,” says Elaine. “For instance, I didn’t want a formal dining room. I would never use it.”

Casement and awning windows are elegant and functional, allowing for great breezes. “And believe me, they’re open spring and fall for sure!”

Elaine’s passion for art is evident throughout the house with carefully selected pieces taking center stage in most rooms. She has relied on Harwood Taylor, vice-president of Gremillion & Co. Fine Art, through the years to help choose and position pieces. “He’s helped me pick out art for 20 years! He’s always enthusiastic and easy to work with,” says Elaine.

Indeed, this home is a work of art itself. “There are just so many things I love about it. The list is too long to count!” she exclaims. She especially appreciates the close friendships that formed while the home was built. “It’s like there’s this team and we all got along and now we’re all good friends,” she says. “I got a house and some pretty neat people to go with it!”

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1.Shadows from large oak trees play against the house. Special care was taken to build the house within this special framework of trees.

2.A view down the upstairs loft hallway shows off the home’s industrial detailing such as this perforated aluminum railing that looks beautiful against maple wood floors. The marble-topped antique was purchased in Brussels. Above it, a painting by artist Knox Martin.

3.A view down the upstairs loft hallway shows off the home’s industrial detailing such as this perforated aluminum railing that looks beautiful against maple wood floors. The marble-topped antique was purchased in Brussels. Above it, a painting by artist Knox Martin.

4.Bright red Herman Miller chairs and a table from Knoll offer modern dining aside a kitchen.

5.The downstairs powder room is lovely in glass tiles and a sink from Elegant Additions.

6.Beautiful maple shelves hold a variety of sentimental knick-knacks and other possessions in the upstairs living space. LeCorbusier seating looks right at home in this modern dwelling.

7.The home’s industrial detailing plays against a soft, soothing outdoor courtyard ripe with foliage and an elegantly simple lap pool

8.A large porch lets the outside in. Furniture from the Lucca Collection from Design Within Reach is functional as well as beautiful.

9.A simple, yet elegant guest bedroom awaits visitors. Above the bed, art by Dimitri Petrov, purchased from Gremillion & Co. Fine Art.

10.A mid-century Haywood Wakefield piece holds a trio of vases in the upstairs guest bedroom; painting by Chris Knipp, purchased from Gremillion & Co. Fine Art.

11.Vintage hats act as art on the top shelf of Elaine’s bedroom closet. These belonged to her mother-in-law. A colorful assortment of shoes hangs below.

12.White on white with a splash of color is the theme in the master bedroom, simply serene in German-made Interlubke furniture. The painting, called Foggy Day by artist James Groff reminds Elaine of Belgium.

13.Sea grass limestone floors and warm colored tile from Ann Sacks make for a natural looking, yet elegant master bathroom.


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