Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine: Welcome to the Blog Cabin

February 2016 | Press

by Sarah Hauge
photos by Jill Klinke at Tour Factory

This modern mountain retreat may be located in the Northwest, but in a sense, it belongs to the entire country. The property was the featured home on the 2015 season of the DIY Network series Blog Cabin, whose tagline - "you design it, we build it, you win it" - sums up the collaborative nature of the multimedia Blog Cabin experience. Viewers could go online and vote between options for design elements like paint colors, flooring materials, storage solutions and ceiling treatments, and teams from the network worked with local companies to execute the vision. Finally, after all of the voting and work was done, fans entered a sweepstakes to win the finished product. In this case, there were more than 23 million entries for this cabin! The winners are retirees who chose to stay on the east coast to be near family and have put the fully furnished dream home on the market.

To find the perfect home location, the production team worked with local realtor Mark Hensley. This property, located on approximately eight sloped acres of land, was the instant favorite because of its stunning views of Lake Coeur d'Alene. "The view was the deal," says Hensley. "It was all about the view." As a bonus, the property was already home to apple, plum and nectarine trees, as well as the region's coveted huckleberry bushes.

A true team effort, Dylan Eastman of DIY network worked as home designer and project manager; local company Edwards Smith Construction - which came onboard before the design was finalized and assisted through the home's completion - handled construction management. For this story, a team from Edwards Smith (including Andy Smith, ESC principal, and ESC superintendents Buff Kobs and Chris Sears) worked together to answer questions about the project. As you may have guessed, working with a network show and a television timeframe added some new dimensions and more than a few complications to the unusual design and build process.

"In addition to the typical construction challenges, such as weather conditions and a compressed timeframe for the build, DIY Network Blog Cabin and each affiliated TV show (DIY Bath Crashers, DIY Yard Crashers, DIY Kitchen Crashers, DIY House Crashers, and DIY Rescue My Renovation) had their own designer(s), star(s) and producer(s) with their own unique ideas and timeframe for getting things done," writes the ESC team. "While working towards completion of the project, we needed to coordinate our build schedule with a different 'client' every week and ensure the room(s) being filmed a particular week were ready to go."

"It was also unusual to be assisting, albeit behind the scenes, with the production of a television show," the ESC team adds. One big upside to accepting a bigger challenge was time spent with new, nationally renowned clients like DIY Network host Chris Grundy.

This was Blog Cabin's ninth season, but it was their first home in the Northwest, which influenced the home's design and aesthetic. "Going West has always been about new starts, and in this case afforded me the ability to feature a more modern design," explains Dylan Eastman. "Coeur d'Alene is a unique city with immense outdoor beauty and maintains a small town feel. This made it a perfect location for our audience, which is looking for a home to get away from it all while having the amenities of community. The particular home site had a perfect southwest view over the lake and into the valley. [The property's existing] 1970s rancher was desperate for a breath of fresh design and the ultimate blank slate for our voting design."

With many contributors to the project, the design process was ongoing, and Eastman says it included, "...an evolution of my own ideas, our sponsors, voting public, expert hosts and skilled builders. While many custom homes could stay in the design phase for six months, having a great team meant we were able to design/build the house in only seven months from start to finish. This includes shooting seven episodes, which can slow down normal construction. Having Edwards Smith Construction was a key to our success. Every year, the home is a reflection of not only our own talent but also the talents of the local builders and tradespeople. That truly makes this a unique work of art."

The open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling windows take full advantage of the stunning site, and the multiple decks and patios blur the line between outdoors and in. The home's material palette - wood, metal, stone and concrete - also complements the tranquil, scenic location.

The construction and design team worked to upcycle and repurpose existing materials whenever possible. A tree felled on the property was turned into custom stools to line the kitchen island, an old For Sale sign was cut up, framed and hung to create graphic art, and Idaho diamond stone from the original home and site was used as patio pavers, a coffee table top and in the indoor waterfall. "It's so hard to choose a coolest DIY," says Eastman. "If I had to pick just one it would be the basalt rock art int he master bathroom. The basalt was gathered from a natural flow uphill from the house."

Using vintage and handmade items added to the home's warmth and lends it a sense of history, with old film canisters decorating the wall in the media room, a vintage trunk serving as a coffee table in the living room, and a Hoosier cabinet from the early 1900s getting new life as pantry storage in the kitchen. The home also features handcrafted items from each of the 50 states, including everything from hand-carved wood spoons from Iowa in the kitchen, a modern macrame wall hanging from Arizona displayed downstairs, and handmade clay garden bells from Arizona hanging outside.

At the home's front entry, angled beams support the sloped porch roof, beneath which the door opens onto a climate-controlled airlock foyer. Benches placed against the walls provide spots to sit, drop packages or shed snowy winter gear. Double doors from here open onto the mezzanine level and its incomparable water views.

"The two-story height windows that overlook the 180-degree view - that's the most impressive when you come into the home. All you see is this wall of windows," says Hensley. "I call that the money shot." These expansive windows mean that the same lake view can be enjoyed everywhere from the home's lower level to the master suite's private upper deck.

The main floor includes the kitchen, dining room and living space, with a broad and sculptural open staircase at its center. In the kitchen, the two-tiered island is topped with engineered quartz. A curved walnut ledge, mounted a few inches lower than the primary countertop, serves as eat-in space. The kitchen is full of welcome contrasts between light and dark, mirroring the light-dark interplay of the home's exterior. Light-colored, gray-veined countertops find their counterpoint in the darker engineered quartz backsplash that extends to the ceiling behind the sink, and the cabinetry includes both white upper cabinets and dark-stained lower cabinetry. The antique Hoosier cabinet was painted to match the upper cabinetry and topped with a piece of engineered quartz, maintaining its original charm while keeping it cohesive with the rest of the kitchen.

Just footsteps away is the outdoor kitchen. A steel and Douglas fir pergola lends partial shade, underneath which is the spacious wood table that was made of materials leftover from the rest of the home. The grill and prep area is bordered by a vertical garden, where planters are filled with herbs. This living wall provides cooking ingredients as well as welcome greenery.

Back inside, the sitting room adjacent to the kitchen area has a stacked stone fireplace, which is its focal point. The nearby dining area centers on a walnut table topped in glass, beneath which is vintage-inspired marquee lettering spelling the word "Coeur" ("heart"), paying homage to the home's location.

Also on the mezzanine level are a powder room and a tucked-away library nook, which has lots of built-in shelving, as well as a space-saving flip-down table and pillow-lined benches for seating.

The master suite is full of warm wood, soothing colors and soft textiles, with a low, upholstered platform bed that's in keeping with the modern aesthetic. Custom built cabinetry maximizes the usability of an angled nook; one cabinet door even opens onto a laundry chute that sends dirty clothes straight to the lower level laundry room. A glass slider lets in lots of light and opens onto the wrap-around deck.

The spacious master bathroom combines multiple types of tile, including copper penny tile in the shower, Carrera marble on the floor and hexagonal Carrera marble on the shower floor. The state-of-the-art Kohler shower system is complete with lights, music and five different showerheads. "The master shower is to die for," says Hensley.

The master suite's most original element is a private upper loft. This retreat within a retreat, dubbed the "Zen Room," is a serene, light-flooded space. Sliding glass doors here lead to a separate upper balcony.

On the lower level is a spacious family room anchored by the home's original fireplace, fronted in Idaho diamond stone. Sliding glass doors open from here onto the lower level patio.

The guest room was designed by a team from HGTV (DIY Network and HGTV are both owned by Scripps Networks Interactive). The more traditional wingback design of the bed contrasts with the playful color scheme, with pops of orange, poppy and mint.

Also on the lower level is a bunkroom that incorporates industrial elements like a concrete wall. This room maximizes its small footprint, with innovative ideas like shelving adhered to the side of a dresser that serves as a nightstand for the lower bunk, a tool belt mounted on the wall adjacent to the upper bunk that can hold everything from cell phones to glasses to lip balm, and a pull-out drawer installed beneath the lower bunk to offer concealed storage.

The luxurious lower level bathroom is accessible from within the house as well as from the sliding doors that open to the patio and hot tub area. There is a spacious changing room, a huge white-tiled shower with glass doors (plus a hand shower to rinse off mud or grit tracked in from outside), and a spacious soaking tub, plus a double vanity.

Also downstairs, an entertainment room with a large projector screen is the perfect place to watch movies. Cork flooring and acoustic tiles in the ceiling absorb sound; even the drywall has noise-reducing properties. The home's game room is equipped with a pool table, dartboard and a large-scale magnetic checkerboard cleverly adhered to the sliding barn door. The walls are decorated in more vintage items repurposed as art - in this case bats, rackets and mallets. A glass garage door opens to the patio. The game room has its own HVAC system, so the temperature of the rest of the home isn't affected when the door is kept open.

The home also has a generous laundry and mudroom downstairs, as well as an oversized detached drive-through garage with an exterior design that echoes that of the house.

Outside, dry creek bed landscaping around the foundation catches runoff from the roof, eliminating the need for gutters and contributing to the home's clean-lined look. Low-maintenance landscaping includes natural grasses, Japanese maples, and rockery. On one side of the home are a charming waterfall and a small footbridge, and there's also a cedar hot tub that's temperature-controlled via smart phone. A natural gas pit on the lower level patio is surrounded with wood and metal benches; sculptural heaters contribute more warmth on chilly evenings.

With beautiful spaces inside and out for living, relaxing and retreating, it's no wonder this one-in-a-million Northwest home has drawn the attention of millions across the country.

CREDITS:
DIY Network Design and Build Manager: Dylan Eastman

Construction Management: Edwards Smith Construction

Structural Engineer: Brian Waddell

See photos of the Blog Cabin here.