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An Oklahoma Timber Home With Global Influences

A family of jetsetters settle down in an Oklahoma timber home, then fill it with treasures from their travels.

Written by Suzanna Logan
Photography by Roger Wade
 
From the outside, Gary and Judy Allen’s home is standard fare for a timber frame. With a little mountain-style here, a little Craftsman and Midwestern influence there, the wood home stays true to timber framing tradition.
 
“We weren’t trying to make a statement,” explains Gary of the way the home is nestled against the backdrop of the couple’s 240-acre family farmland. “We wanted the house, from the timbers and the rock to the colors, to look like it was a natural part of the environment.”
 
But stepping inside onto colorfully patterned wool rugs from Afghanistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan is your first clue this is no ordinary Oklahoma homestead. As you walk through the lofted entry into the open great room, living and dining area, your gaze may naturally drift upwards to the cathedral ceilings, punctuated by Douglas fir timbers, or outwards to the expertly framed views of the pristine 15-acre lake built by Gary’s dad as a soil conversation reservoir in the 1970s, but bring your gaze back into focus. It’s time for a world tour, no passport required.
 
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To the right, silk tapestries from Saudi Arabia. To the left, pottery from Jordan. Up ahead, a cuckoo clock from Germany. Not exactly what one expects to find behind a timber frame’s facade, but these are just a few of the treasures gathered by the couple during their years of globetrotting.
 
“We incorporated things from all of the different places we lived and traveled, so we could look back and remember, “Oh, that’s from when we were in Spain, Morocco or Oman,” says Judy.
 
But don’t confuse cosmopolitan chic with showy. The Allens discuss their bucket-list lifestyle — which has included everything from train trips across Switzerland to cruises to Ephesus — with palpable appreciation, and their home reveals that same noticeable absence of pretense. Worldly curiosities are casually interspersed alongside farmhouse-themed furnishings and American antiques, such as kerosene lamps and stoneware.
 
And, really, it’s only fitting the home includes tangible markers of the family’s travels, as the structure itself was designed while they lived inside a guarded compound in Saudi Arabia along the Persian Gulf — Gary’s last work assignment before retirement. “I moved in 11 times in my career in petrochemicals,” he explains. “So we had a lot of chances to see and talk about what it is we wanted out of a home.” Judy, a retired airline flight attendant, affirms: “We had been talking about the kinds of things we wanted in it for over 20 years.”
 
As they went back and forth on the details of their forever home one thing the couple never wavered on was returning to their home state. “We are both graduates of Oklahoma State and always knew we wanted to come back here,” says Gary.
 
For Matt Franklin of Michigan-based Riverbend Timber Framing — the lead architect on the project responsible for conducting virtual design conferences with the couple and shipping plans to Saudi Arabia for approval — the fact that the Allens chose to come back to their family land speaks volumes.
 
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“They wanted to return to their roots, to some place humble, when the whole world was available to them,” says Matt. “That says a lot about the kind of people they are.”
 
To design a house that manifested the couple’s down-to-earth mentality, Matt homed in on their needs — both now and later. The Allen’s three youngest children were in 6th, 7th and 9th grades when the family returned to the states to build the home, so Matt had to consider how the house would function with three teenagers but also keep the long view in mind. “This was a real legacy project. They wanted a home they could live comfortably in now and pass on to their children and grandchildren later,” he says.
 
To keep things “forever friendly,” Matt situated everything the couple would need for long-term living on the main floor, including the master suite and laundry room. An office and a sewing room, which can double as a bedroom, round out the upstairs offerings, while below, the full daylight basement features a family room with entertainment area and kitchenette, along with three en suite guest rooms with walk-in closets and an additional laundry room.
 
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When it came time to flesh out the wood details of the home, Matt looked to an existing timber-framed pavilion by the pond for inspiration. “They wanted the truss features of the home to match that structure,” he explains. Outside, timber details abound, starting with the porte-cochère that welcomes visitors and continuing in the wrap-around covered deck that invites them to linger long enough to catch a glimpse of local wildlife. Inside, trusses span from the front door to the rear window wall, while timber posts anchor the space, structurally and visually. “We used darker stain at the bottom of the timbers, and then as you get into the tongue-and-groove, the stain gets lighter, with the lightest wood being in the cathedral ceilings,” explains Judy. Other wood elements include red oak flooring, knotty alder trim and cabinetry and pine doors.
 
While it’s fair to attribute the home’s aesthetic warmth, in part, to the timber frame and wood features, it’s the family’s building philosophy that ultimately created an inviting home that embodies hygge — a Scandinavian concept that centers around comfort. “More than anything, we want the home to function as a welcoming gathering place that allows people to feel comfortable,” says Judy.
 
The home has fulfilled those hopes time and again, giving the Allen family a place to sink in comfort. And perhaps tapping into that deeply held desire to belong is what best explains how a simple timber home in central Oklahoma has risen to the top of the family’s “favorites places in the world list.”
 
“There’s no doubt that this is where we are supposed to be, and we couldn’t be happier about that,” says Judy. Turns out, there really is no place like home.
 

Home Details

Square Footage: 4,900
Bedrooms: 5
Baths: 5                  
Timber Frame Provider: Riverbend Timber Framing

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