Oklahoma Magazine--September 2008
By Rhoda Baker
An Airy Midtown Tulsa Home Offers a Nurturing Haven for an Extended Family.
A blend of form and function, this home was built to be both beautiful and practical: lusurious in the use of scale and space with simple clean lines, neutral colors and a flexible floor plan. But the home also reflects a deeply held philosophy.
We met with one of the owners who told us “I believe in (buying and using) local, I believe in being who I am. My heritage is European, but I am many cultures…I belong to a world culture. I want my family to experience the beauty of all cultures and the positives that all cultures have to offer.”
“My goal,” she explains, “was to build a complex for the nurture of family and children offering love and learning.”
To echo her philosophy, the home is filled with a remarkable diversity of art, artifacts and statuary, and the entire home is open to the owners’ large extended family of five children, spouses and 10 grandchildren.
“Children,” she said, “are welcome in every part of the house.”
Revealing a love of knowledge and personal growth, collections of books cram shelves that are nevertheless orderly, labeled with small brass plates designating categories.
The owners have lived in the 4,300 square foot contemporary home for five years, having moved from a country French home around the corner.
There were multiple unused bedrooms, she told us, and we made the decision to start again, designing a home for the rest of our lives.
Scott Vrooman with TriArch Architecture developed the design by listening and embracing the owner’s philosophies.
“We toured one of the monasteries that she frequented growing up because she had such vivid memories of the dining experience with her friends and family, said Vrooman. “She wanted to duplicate that experience through the openness and inclusiveness of the family meal.”
Using clean lines, angled geometry, and robust daylighting, Vrooman created a space that is conducive to the peace that the owner desires for her family.
Living spaces and master suite are all on the first level. Upstairs are another two rooms that serve as office space, but as evidence of future thinking, a downstairs guest room will be there when the owners can no longer navigate the stairs. Replete with a mini kitchen the room now opens to a beautiful outdoor pool and patio area.
From African and Middle Eastern to Native American and contemporary, art and artifacts add interest and color throughout the home. The owner is particularly proud of an African American Woman statue by Shirley T. Smith. The statue, a birthday gift from her husband, sits poolside.
Supporting local might mean local art of pieces of custom designed furniture by the Tulsa based Hawley & Company. But local can also be as close as her garen where plots of organic vegetables, flowers, trees and herbs are a useful relaxing and educational experience.
Just beyond the pool is a multi-use second garden and children’s play area., which is the back half of a long narrow lot that sat adjacent to their property.
“We bought that lot, and we split it in half,” she says. “Our son and his family are building a home on the front half.”
A budding author, the owner says that gardening has become a release from the tension of serious philosophical writing. She pointed with pride to their on-site composting station that provides enough compost for all the shrubs and flowerbeds that landscape the home. They have begun, she says, to have enough for the lawn as well.
A small outbuilding that was on the property is being groomed as a green house, where gardening books already fill a shelf.
The garden is fun and a learning experience for her grandchildren. Recently, she says, they picked organically grown cucumbers and tomatoes that then became part of dinner. Among the other learning experiences found around th house is a citronella plant near the pool–it’s a natural mosquito repellant–and the limestone kitchen countertops, which came embedded with fossils.
The central family room is decorated with an exuberant mix of furnishings representing a range of styles and time periods.
The formal dining space off the living area overlooks the outdoor pool area. In addition, tto the spacious dining table there is a separate dining table for children.
The designers at SR Hughes Interiors assisted the homeowners with the kitchens tasteful mix of materials and finishes, including limestone and granite counters.
The sparkling pool and spa area with ample seating for family gatherings is visible and accessible from much of the home.
The homeowners enjoyed soothing lavender-tinted walls so much in a previous home, they decided to employ the color in the spacious master suite of their new home.