Proving True Design is Strategic Thinking Perfectly Brought to Life
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
More than just a dream home, this spacious lake retreat artfully blends structure and creativity to inspire emotion.
Shortly after crossing the threshold into this phenomenal home situated at Prairie Lee Lake in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, you may experience a wonderful indulgence of the senses, especially when absorbing all of its visual aesthetics. From front to back, this space is more than just a home; it is a stunning masterpiece, crafted by the creative genius of all parties involved who took this breath-taking reverse one-and-a-half-story home from conception to completion with a decided team effort.
Although it took more than five years to bring this dream to fruition – from the point of deciding on a lot to overcoming a few site challenges along the way – owners Mike and Nancy Roark are now living the dream, and through it all, one simple yet profound feeling accurately describes how they feel about their new residence.
“This home is a blessing to us,” expressed Nancy. “And we want everyone to be blessed when they come in.”
Blessed from the beginning, the Roarks partnered with some of the best design minds in the metro area to help them realize their own unique vision. Countless meetings with architect Scott Bickford (Bickford + Company); interior designer Jill Tran (Tran + Thomas Design Studio); builders Rick Forner and James La Voy (Forner – La Voy Builders, Inc.); and pool designer Kirk Strobel (Land and Water) led to the creation of a home that welcomes everyone who enters yet offers its owners the perfect place for them to relax and enjoy this exciting new chapter of their lives.
Admittedly, there were a few stumbling blocks along the way, but with their team of proven resources, the Roarks were able to turn those over into stepping stones to achieve their goal.
“They initially came to us sharing their conceptual ideas of the home,” noted Strobel. “And our job was to create an environment to fit the client’s desires and needs.”
The first challenge was how to fit a pool on the lot and then work around that endeavor. The lot is home to a large rock that has a 50-foot deep crack within. As such, the pool, complete with an infinity edge, and the home had to be constructed in such a way that, should the rock fall away, the pool and house will confidently remain intact. Once the structural challenges were met, thanks to sturdy grade beams, the aesthetics were incorporated, including both a pool level and a patio level; all natural materials; and unique elements of fire and water.
Bickford added his own expertise to accommodate the shape and personality of the lot, as well as embracing the focal point of the pool.
“The pool and the lot are what drove the u-shape design of the house, which offers a lot of privacy,” he explained.
After assembling plans with Strobel and Bickford, the Roarks turned to their builder, who took to the task of ensuring the Roarks’ dreams came true for this home.
“They came to us with the design from the architect and we went to work,” expressed La Voy, initially referencing the site challenges. “The house sits on a bluff, with basically a 14-foot cliff down to the water and beach below. From a design perspective, this was the most complex house we have ever built.”
Essentially sitting on what La Voy referred to as an elephant rock, a formation as part of the cliff with a fissure through it, the challenge was to construct the home so that one part of it structurally sat on the part of the rock formation that could, at some point in time, eventually slough off. This required strategic engineering and confident structural support, allowing the house to remain stable should the rock formation encounter any shifting in the future. La Voy was quick to credit Bickford for his architectural prowess in this regard.
“Scott did an amazing job fitting the plans into this design,” said La Voy, emphasizing that often it is what’s behind the walls that matters the most. “A lot of what you don’t see structurally supporting this house is underground and behind the walls.”
Mike and Nancy appreciated the strong teamwork throughout this project.
“We gave Scott a few key principles and ideas we wanted, including a four-car garage, a secluded pool, a design that brings the lake into the house, appreciable privacy, and an open area in the home in which to entertain people, giving our guests the opportunity to experience what we experience,” noted Mike.
Drawing up on influences of residential lifestyles in the Middle East where Mike worked for a considerable part of his career in engineering, the Roarks asked Bickford to create a plan that kept that right side of the home private, encompassing the bedrooms, and the left side public, including the kitchen, great room and lanais. Popular key areas in the home, outside of the three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and three half-bathrooms, include a bar in the recreation area; a Full Swing golf simulator, an exercise room, a home theater, two outdoor lanais, an outdoor kitchen, an artificial turf area out back for their dog, and an elevator. The entire home is also outfitted with Smart home technologies.
When referring to the interior design elements of the home, Nancy gives a strong and appreciative nod to designer, Tran.
“I cannot give enough praise to Jill. She steered the decorating process and certainly has a magic touch,” said Nancy.
And Tran, along with her designing and business partner Carmen Thomas, delighted in being able to incorporate Nancy’s ideas with her own creative enthusiasm and talents. With so many unique and interesting touches, Tran certainly gave this home its personality, and even though it is quite spacious, guests feel comfortably at home through its simple elegance.
The jumping off point in the design of this home began with the blue velvet chairs at the dining room table, along with the two chandeliers directly above the table.
“Mike and Nancy gave me direction and then set me free,” said Tran. And what a great decision that proved to be. With a chosen palette of yellows for the upper level and turquoise for the lower level, Tran let those colors express themselves throughout the design while harmoniously partnering them with all of the other design elements, including touches of stone, wood, marble, gold and glass.
One of the many stunning performers in this home is the 20-foot long light fixture which Tran designed herself and had constructed out of crystal and copious lightbulbs.
“When you are out on the lake looking into the home at night, it definitely has that ‘wow’ appeal,” noted Tran. “And Nancy’s favorite spot is where the custom-made settee is at the bottom of the stairs, a place for her to read a book or gaze at the pool.”
Although not grandiose, considering the nearly 7,500 square feet of space in this home, the kitchen delivers when it comes to form and function. Its dominate white color sets the perfect backdrop for the elegant backsplash, designed with Carrera marble and glass in a water jet-cut to achieve the curves.
“The tile effortlessly offsets the square cabinets,” noted Tran.
The master bedroom, with its smoked blues and creams, offers a softer and more traditional vibe than the rest of the home. Complementing that effect are the wooden vanities with vessel sinks in the adjoining master bathroom. For just a bit of whimsical play, a chandelier hangs over the tub, next to a zero-entry shower.
While the Roarks could be hard-pressed to decide which part of the home is their favorite, what matters most to them is the feeling this place evokes.
“This is our forever home,” smiled Nancy, clearly feeling the blessings from which this home was built.
Development: Prairie Lee Lake | Builder: Forner La Voy Builders | Architect: Bickford + Company | Designer: Tran + Thomas Design Studio | Pool: Land and Water | Elevator: Access Elevator & Lifts | Hardwood: Acme Floor Co. | Cast Stone: ADI Designs | Ornamental Iron Railing: Austin Iron Works | Structural Steel: Blue Springs Beam Service | Cabinets/Custom: Built To Fit | Roofing: Century Roofing | Tile/Install: Eddie Cummings Tile | Audio/Video & Home Security: Elevated Electronics | Framing: Evans Brothers | Appliances: Factory Direct Appliances | Plumbing Fixtures/Cabinet Stand Alone: Ferguson Enterprises | Golf Simulator: Full Swing Simulators | Painting: Gecko Painting | Deck: Glenn Surritte | Hardware: Locks & Pulls | Fireplaces: Midwest Fireplace | Plumbing: Miller Plumbing Co. | Landscaping: New Leaf Landscape | Windows/Exterior Doors/Trim: Pacific Mutual Door | Front Door: Portico Doors | Flooring/Carpeting/Tile: ProSource of Kansas City | Garage Doors: Raynor Garage Doors of KC | Guttering: Royal Seamless Gutter | Stone: Stonehenge Outdoor | Tile: Sunderland Bros. | Countertops: Surface Center Interiors | Light Fixtures: Wilson Fans & Lighting | Wallpaper: Wood Wallcovering