LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- It has been happening for decades: Fruitful farmland between Cincinnati and Dayton is transformed into contemporary communities of luxury homes that feature rolling park land, walking and bicycling trails, clubhouses with swimming pools, ponds and a sometimes a dog park.
Call them "Homearama mansions" after the annual showcases of new homes sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati. To some there is a sameness to these homes. We found one that’s different.
Arhur Rutenberg's model home at 6348 Carriage Oak Way in Liberty Township’s 400-acre Carriage Hill development off Princeton Pike might be pricey at $1.325 million, but look closely and you’ll see it’s a new take on suburban living. Carriage Hill was the site of the 2014 Homearama.
Called the Pembroke, the model home has four bedrooms with the option for a fifth, four en suite bathrooms, a half-bath off the great room and 5,500 square feet of living space. It was designed by in-house architects of the Pembroke’s builder, Arthur Rutenberg Homes. The builder is a 63-year-old Clearwater, Florida company that franchises its developments.
The goal was for the home to attract empty nesters or families with a child or two in high school or college, said Ian Rife, president of Rutenberg’s Cincinnati division.
It would be hard not to spend a lot of time in the basement’s 600-square-foot recreation/game room (it comes with a pool table, wet bar and spacious TV viewing area), but if you wanted to, you could live the rest of your life on the main floor.
More accurately, empty nesters could live in just three of the home’s 10 rooms: the 1,300-square-foot great room/kitchen combination, the 270-square-foot master bedroom with attached bath and bedroom-sized walk-in closet/dressing room, and the 260-square-foot, two-level office/den.
All are on the first floor, as are a spacious laundry/mud room and a 445-square-foot, covered rear porch with a built-in grill, gas fireplace and access to the great room and master.
Nobody has lived in the Pembroke yet, but whoever buys it will find a surprise waiting for them: the house’s furnishings, a package that listing Realtor Beverly Corsmeier estimated is worth $200,000, comes with the deal. And, yes, the Cincinnati red-felted pool table is included, as are the rights to fish in the community’s stocked ponds.
The Pembroke, said Rife, was designed to respect the historic feel of the property that was established when the landowners moved an 1882 barley barn onto it. (The big barn is now the adult clubhouse).
“We wanted to save the green space, build on one-plus acre sites … and have the outdoor living space be integrated into the home, not just be an after thought,” Rife said.
All of that is achieved by the way the entrance to the house is laid out, explained Chuck Greene, Rutenberg’s sales and marketing director. Guests enter the arched, double front door into a wide entry hall that’s open to a formal dining room to the left. But it’s the 7-foot opening into the great room that draws people’s eyes all the way to the back of the house to sliding double doors and the view of the yard and pond, Greene said.
Those doors also lead to the expansive back porch where as many as 10 people can lounge on cushy couches and chairs and take in the open view, warm up to the stone-facade fireplace and listen to music coming through speakers in the bead board ceiling.
Respect for history, said Greene, can be seen in the Old World, French Country touches in the architecture of the front of the house. It features gable and hip roof lines, brick and shingle walls and a stone arch over the door.
People who have viewed the home, Greene said, mentioned that the pitch of the roof and two high windows make it appear that the house is two stories when, in fact, it is a ranch with a walk-out basement.
Green and Rife said some of the special features of the Pembroke grew out of comments made by people who walked through Rutenberg’s first house at Carriage Hill during the 2014 Homearama.
Uncommon interior features in the Pembroke that Greene said have surprised and/or impressed visitors so far are the great room’s rounded wet bar that connects to the dining room and the office/den located beyond a short hallway off the kitchen.
The wet bar includes a bar for glass storage, a wine refrigerator, dark cabinetry with brushed steel pulls and a granite counter top. It offers the bartender a full view of the great room and to the backyard and pond in the distance. And it offers homeowners a separate party space that is designed to draw people away from the kitchen island.
The office/den is a two-level affair with desk space above that faces a large, flat-screen television on the wall in the lounging/meeting space below. Triple molding along the room’s 10½-foot ceiling and steel cable railing that divides the levels add contemporary class.
“It’s perfect for video conferencing. You sit there and look straight at the screen,” Corsmeier said. “I’ve seen a lot of houses and this is my favorite office. It’s brilliant.”
“It’s still comfortable and cozy even though it has 10-foot-6-inch ceilings in here. Guys absolutely love it,” Greene said.
More Details of The Pembroke
Located on a corner lot in the Carriage Hill development, it is 20 miles from Downtown Cincinnati and 10 minutes west of Interstate 75 and shops at the new Liberty Center.
The kitchen features a 10-by-5-foot quartz-topped island and a pantry that is hidden by a paneled door. A light comes on when it is pushed open. Inside are shelves and a second refrigerator.
The first-floor and stairwell flooring is hardwood with chevron accents.
The recreation/game room borrows from popular industrial designs common in city lofts. The wet bar’s backsplash is corrugated metal, and there are metal cage lights with exposed bulbs above its counter. A rough-hewn ledge hangs on a brick wall next to the pool table. Four bright red pop-top stools provide seating.
The basement has a furnished guest room with full bathroom off an adjacent hall as well as an office that could be converted into a fifth bedroom or an in-law suite. Sliding doors like those in the great room lead to a 490-square-foot walk-out deck.
A two-bay garage is attached to the front side of the house and a single-bay, carriage-style garage is detached and accessible across a small porch through a door that leads into the laundry/mud room. The garages come with car lifts for seldom-used or collectible vehicles.
Although the house was not designed on the living-in-space model, it borrows some features that would help make it comfortable for people in wheelchairs, including extra-wide halls and toggle light switches at hip level.