Photo: Courtesy of Custom Timber Frames
It started out small. Thirty years ago, before Scott and Mary Turner’s Wausau, Wisconsin, home was the massive mansion it is today, it was a single-story farmhouse wrapped in an eight-foot-deep covered porch. Over time, they finished the basement, added a master bedroom suite and incorporated other small upgrades here and there.
But, when you reach a high level of success in business, as the Turners did, that ambitious appetite isn’t contained to your career. Now, Scott’s brother-in-law jokingly refers to their once humble ranch as the “Winchester” home, referencing the seemingly endless additions, twists and turns of the famous San Jose landmark.
“Six or seven years ago we started doing major additions,” says Scott. “We added an exercise room, a theater and a dining room large enough for either of our families to sit at one table comfortably.” Their latest add-on, dubbed “the barn,” was completed in May 2019 and includes a six-car garage, an indoor swimming pool, a timber-framed lounge and a breezeway that acts both as a foyer and a connector to the original home.
As their house expanded, the Turners simultaneously filled it with art, but what started as a collection eventually turned into clutter. Their solution? A private gallery located in the addition. “My wife and I collect historical Native American artifacts — clothing, beadwork, jewelry and things of that nature,” shares Scott. In fact, the gallery, itself, is built from bits of history; the floorboards are reclaimed wood and the ceiling is made from pallets that transported rail tracks.
To match the reclaimed wood in the gallery and elsewhere in the home, the Turners wanted natural elements that would add to the rustic feel. Doug Beilfuss, owner of Custom Timber Frames, worked with the Turners on previous additions and knew that rough-sawn white pine timbers, which are native to Wisconsin, would give them the look they wanted. “Our process is to work up three or four concepts for the truss design,” he says. “Then, when the owner chooses a direction, we develop the plan, engineer it and build it.”
Cost is key in the construction of any home, and though this project is larger than most, the approach to timber framing was practical. All the timbers you see here are decorative. Alex Forer, owner of Larry Meyer Construction, explains the rationale behind this methodology: “Full timber frame homes can be expensive. But if homeowners want to create a timber-framed look, they can use timbers as accents or details without the structural burden.”
The foyer is a particularly good example of this technique. It carries the look and authenticity of a structural timber frame but, due to mechanical and energy requirements, is shelled by a conventional building envelope. “Doug builds it the traditional way with all the proper joinery, so it looks authentic,” says Alex. “It’d be hard to tell with the naked eye that the timbers aren’t structural.”
As for the home’s flow, “I’m an architectural engineer,” says Scott. “I could communicate what I wanted, but from there it was supreme collaboration. Mary decided what she wanted, and off we went.”
No matter the size or scope of the project, the key to success is coordination between homeowner, contractor and timber manufacturer. “This one truly was a team approach,” says Doug. “You need that feeling on a project like this; that everyone in that building is working towards the same goal to give these clients the absolute highest quality. It’s everything they asked for.”
Square Footage: 18,000
Timber Provider: Custom Timber Frames Builder: Larry Meyer Construction