Fol­low­ing Fate’s Lead

With one-part luck and one-part plan­ning, a small-town Ohio cou­ple brings a wel­com­ing and peace­ful per­spec­tive to their re­tire­ment re­treat.


With one-part luck and one-part plan­ning, a small-town Ohio cou­ple brings a wel­com­ing and peace­ful per­spec­tive to their re­tire­ment re­treat.

Head north on State Route 38 in cen­tral Ohio to­wards Marysville, and you’ll pass fields of corn and soy­beans that stretch to the hori­zon, rows of charm­ing brick store­fronts that look like a movie set and a sign that reads, “Marysville: Where the grass is al­ways greener.”

Down the road, tucked into a clear­ing be­tween one of those corn fields and a thicket of shag-bark hick­ory, a long drive­way leads to Bill and Mon­ica Ver­hoffs’ home. If a sign marked their en­trance, it would read: “Ver­hoffs: Where the liv­ing is easy.”

If you’re one of the lucky ones in­vited to the cou­ple’s 4,800-square-foot timber re­treat, the pur­pose of your visit is clear from the mo­ment you ar­rive: re­lax­ation. The re­sult of a dar­ing de­sign de­ci­sion, tim­bers span over a spa­cious pa­tio sit­u­ated in the front of the home, rather than the rear. An in­ten­tional ar­range­ment of chairs gath­ered around a stone fire­place prac­ti­cally begs you to linger. Here, loung­ing and long con­ver­sa­tions aren’t just en­cour­aged — they’re re­quired.

“When you make that fi­nal turn around the drive­way, you see this large, wel­com­ing front pa­tio, and in­stantly the house speaks to you,” Bill says. “It’s like the wel­come mat that says, ‘rest and re­lax.’”

And, that’s ex­actly what the cou­ple was crav­ing when they de­cided to build the cus­tom home. Af­ter rais­ing their fam­ily in the sub­urbs, the cou­ple longed for a slower pace and a home sur­rounded by wa­ter, sun, sky and wildlife.

They be­gan search­ing for a prop­erty and struck gold when they dis­cov­ered a site with the in­fra­struc­ture al­ready com­plete. They came in sec­ond on the bid, but luck struck again when that deal fell through. They snapped up the prop­erty and agreed that noth­ing but a timber frame would do. “We’re sur­rounded by trees, so build­ing a home that feels like it’s part of the woods was re­ally im­por­tant to us,” ex­plains Bill.

As the Ver­hoffs re­searched timber frame com­pa­nies, their for­tu­itous cir­cum­stances con­tin­ued: “While read­ing through the notes af­ter clos­ing, we re­al­ized the owner was go­ing to

build a timber home and use a lo­cal com­pany, Oakbridge Timber Fram­ing,” Bill says. “A timber home on the prop­erty was meant to be.”

Fol­low­ing fate’s lead, the cou­ple teamed up with Oakbridge and, with a vi­sion in place, a home made for gath­er­ing and recharg­ing emerged. The heart of the house is an open con­cept liv­ing area that en­cour­ages both con­ver­sa­tion and move­ment. The de­sign also in­cludes a base­ment recre­ation room, chil­dren’s play loft, a master en suite and three guest bed­rooms. In each space, there is “a de­sign and a flow that makes you anx­ious to see what’s ahead,” says Johnny Miller, co-founder of Oakbridge.

There is also an urge to linger, prob­a­bly to dwell on the de­tails. Through­out three floors, clas­sic timber lodge ele­ments abound, “With a lit­tle Crafts­man and Prairie style mixed in,” says Johnny. Be­sides the home’s white oak frame, wood de­tails in­clude east­ern white pine tongue-and-groove, ham­mer­beam trusses with acorn em­bel­lish­ments (hand­made by Johnny’s father) and ex­tra-wide trim on the win­dows and doors.

But not all the ele­ments are rus­tic. Thanks to mod­ern fin­ishes and fur­nish­ings, the at­mos­phere is timber-lodge-meets-ca­sual-chic-ho­tel. Nowhere is this more ap­par­ent than in the octagonal room. A tri­umph of good de­sign, the serene space catches both the sun­sets and sun­rises and of­fers views to the riverbed, Zen gar­den and fre­quent wildlife sight­ings. “When you walk through the kitchen down the short hall­way to the octagonal room, you just feel your­self re­lax,” Bill says. “It is pal­pa­ble. You’re in touch with na­ture. And it’s peace­ful, quiet and re­lax­ing — every­thing we wanted our home to be.”

In the evening, well-placed LED light­ing di­rected up­wards em­pha­sizes the home’s ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails, like the stone col­umns and wood trusses. An out­door fire­place makes for very cozy sum­mer nights.

ABOVE: In a de­sign that’s as wide open as a timber home is, defin­ing spa­ces can be a chal­lenge. Here, the Ver­hoffs suc­cess­fully cre­ate sep­a­rate liv­ing and dining ar­eas with strate­gic fur­ni­ture place­ment, elim­i­nat­ing the need for walls. OP­PO­SITE: The kitchen is a cook’s dream, with a func­tional lay­out, stain­less steel ap­pli­ances, a spa­cious is­land with a prep sink, cook­top and trio of barstools (for com­pany while you cook); not to men­tion the deep gray cus­tom cab­i­netry of var­i­ous sizes and depths.

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