They say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And that’s what this “Dirt to Done” series has been — an odyssey from blueprints to building, from twinkle in the eye to kicking back with a glass of wine on the deck.
We chatted with the homeowners, Peg McVay and Tony Stramm, as they finalized their new timber frame’s design. We joined them during construction as they lived on site in an RV, DIY-ing their dream home. We also heard from Bob Sternquist, owner and CEO of Timbercraft, about the challenges of delivering materials to the top of a ridge in Cañon City, Colorado.
And for all the talk about the beauty and the reward of a long, hard-fought journey, the destination is everything. That’s why we’re on this ride, and we’ve finally arrived at the much-anticipated “Dirt to Done” reveal.
With a sharp roofline and sun-soaked dormers, the home sits like a watchtower on its precipice. The wrap-around porch begs you to come inside to the central great room. Peg and Tony wanted their home built around that great room, as that’s where they plan to spend the most time.
Thanks to the bold trusses that frame large window walls, the home feels grand while only clocking in at approximately 1,900 square feet (not including the basement). With the master bedroom and an open living area across the main level, it’s the quintessential timber frame where you can stand in one corner and see all the way across the house.
“Part of the reason people choose a timber frame is because it’s a wide-open piece of art,” says Bob Sternquist.
“Passive solar gain was part of their objective, too, but in Colorado, you typically build around views,” Bob continues. “One thing we did was orient the kitchen towards Pike’s Peak. Honestly, you can have the coolest timber frame in the world, but if you don’t capture the right setting? … Let’s just say it’s important to capture that.”
To also take advantage of the hill beneath their feet, the front of the house is a walkout basement. It’s currently unfinished, but will eventually have its own entrance, living area and two bedrooms for the kids and grandkids when they come out to visit.
“Believe it or not, to get an idea of what we wanted our house to be, I have a massive 3-inch binder full of pictures that we’ve been pulling out of this magazine over the past 10 years,” says Peg. “We had an idea of the design we wanted, then we sent it over to Timbercraft, and they incorporated a timber frame into the plan that we created.”
“Early on, we had to adjust a lot of the window placement and simple things, like room sizes and wall height,” adds Tony. “The biggest design aspect was to have the master bedroom on the main level. The open plan showcases all the beams. We knew that we loved the timber frame look and to have everything open — that it would be a statement piece.”
Over the course of this series, Peg and Tony have conquered their patch of dirt, not to mention the critters: the deer they’ve named Bucky and the black bear they’ve had to chase off. With their own hands, they pieced together their dream timber house for months — for a lifetime, really — and now, it’s finally done. It’s home.
Square Footage: 1,900, not including lower level
Bathrooms: 2 full, 1 half
Timber Provider: Timbercraft