FORT THOMAS, Ky. – It took Kevin David months of persistence in 2013 to negotiate the right price – $175,000 – for a .38-acre lot above the ninth fairway at Highland Country Club. The deal went down the first week of January 2014; with that aggravation in the past, the contemporary house that David and architect Ashli Slawter designed started going up almost right away.
Boxy and on the industrial side, the 3,200-square-foot house that David shares with his fiancee, Cheryl Davis, and their blended family of three children stands out among the traditional, wood-framed houses on their quiet Fort Thomas street.
The lot had been the site of the country club's tennis courts for decades. Golfers used to passing those courts on their way to the ninth green likely do a double-take when they see the three-level, contemporary home with massive decks and windows.
David, a University of Cincinnati graduate who owns the Appliance Loft in Oakley and grew up in Bridgetown and Hidden Valley Lake, knows his doesn't look like a Frank Lloyd Wright house. But he said he drew inspiration from the great American architect when he sat down and started drawing the plans he later shared with Slawter.
Like many of Wright's homes, the four-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom house features corner windows and a flat roof and is situated and designed to bring the outdoors in. All four bedrooms feature golf course views second only to those from the decks, living room and dining room.
"I love modern and contemporary, and I love all Frank Lloyd Wright-type of architecture," said David, whose family had outgrown a large but storage-challenged townhouse above the golf course's sixth tee box. "It's kind of different, open, like a lot of squares and boxes."
With Slawter consulting on the finer details of the construction, David took on the role of general contractor, hiring out the framing, roofing, flooring, plumbing and major electrical work. The construction skills he learned as an appliance installer prior to opening the Appliance Loft in 2003 enabled him to do some work on his own. He built the decks as well as the cable-wired railing and matched that style in the interior staircase.
"I did some painting, too, but found I couldn't keep up with it," he said. "We would have been building for three years if I'd tried, and it took a little more than a year anyway."
The house is on a three-quarter circle next to three for-sale lots where the tennis courts were. Painted a warm gray with chocolate trim, it is divided into three boxes as viewed from the street. The two on the outside (one includes a three-car garage) feature horizontal siding, while the slightly higher, middle entryway box is divided into a grid by white lines. A pier veneered with colorful slate supports a generous overhang at the door.
Inside an industrial door with sidelights and transom is a compact entry hall that opens to the ground level that David and Slawter designed so a couple could enjoy single-floor living.
A wing with a half-bathroom and laundry room branches off to the right of the entry hall. The master suite features a walkout to an open deck, corner windows, a walk-in closet and a bathroom with glassed-in shower and a tile-enclosed Japanese soaking tub.
The ground-level living space to the left of the entry hall is wide open, with support coming from a glossy, black steel beam that runs the width of the house and two like-steel poles at the end of the kitchen island. A pine-paneled, load-bearing wall that runs the depth of the house extends a few feet out at the front of the house and divides deck space in the back, providing architectural continuity.
In the middle of the living space is a 14-foot-high, slate-veneered fireplace that faces the living room and backs the entry. Built-in display shelves connect the slate to the tongue-and-groove paneled wall, which is two-toned to add appeal and texture to the room.
David said his framer suggested using the pine instead of more stick slate or brick to link it to the paneled ceiling on the covered deck. Its colors blend seamlessly with the oak floors and modern furnishings and light fixtures that Cheryl Davis and interior designer Erin Torrano selected from online sources as well as local retail outlets such as Voltage and Macy's.
The couple's kitchen is the bailiwick of its appliance expert, David. It features a 10-by-4-foot island with sink, in-cabinet Miele coffee maker, Perlick ice maker and beverage refrigerator, AyA cabinets from Cooknee Euro Style Cabinets in Oakley, boldly grained granite countertops and stainless-steel Thermador appliances.
As you might expect, David said, "I got a great deal: 50 percent off. Good ol' Thermador."
There are three things about the living space David said he didn't expect: that he would adjust to losing five feet in the overall depth of the space in order to increase the deck's depth; that he would adjust to chocolate door and window trim (he preferred white); and that they would add a low run of granite-topped cabinets in the dining room.
"We had about 20 people over for a Bengals game and had Skyline Chili set up here," David said of the cabinets. "It was awesome."
The three upstairs bedrooms are bright with sun and custom-painted to the children's tastes. The couple's oldest child gets his own bathroom, while their youngest daughter sleeps in what she calls her "princess castle," a colorfully painted, gabled house with upper bunk and built-in bookshelves.
Access to a rooftop deck is a couple of steps up from a large, carpeted landing that has served as an arts and crafts area. There's room for 25 people on the deck, David said, and the wood-burning fireplace and big-screen TV make it another favorite place to watch fall football.
Stairs down to the lower deck make it possible to connect two parties going at once. A third party space in the finished basement is chock full of entertainment for kids.
The views from the decks are great, David said, especially in the winter when the ninth fairway is blanketed in snow. But it's that same cold stuff that might not make the house a forever home for David and Davis.
"We'll probably stay another seven to 10 years and then move south or west where it's warmer," David said.