Hilltop contemporary

A Tulsa couple builds their dream home on an idyllic property.



Perched atop a hill, this custom home was a dream for these empty-nesters. The open concept home has 4,500 square feet of interior space, plus 1,800 square feet in outdoor entertaining space, perfect for family gatherings and country relaxation.

PHOTOS BY TOM GILBERT

The 4,500-square-foot custom home would be striking anywhere. And any house on that property would be remarkable. But that house on that hill. Well, that’s just genius. 

“The positioning of the house was well-studied,” says builder and designer Bill Powers of Powers Design and Build. “Everything spins off of that.” 

Unfortunately, construction presented a series of challenges. 

City utilities were in place, but Powers had to build a road to the site, clear a forest, build trenches and grade a hilltop. His crews excavated rock in an area 125 feet by 125 feet for the home’s foundation and pool. No wonder prepping the site took three months.

Powers likes to coin a term for the homes he creates. This one — with its lodge look, courtyard design and open concept — became the Hill Country Contemporary. 

The master suite, complete with a massive closet, provides a tranquil space for relaxing. Throughout the home, the windows allow the countryside to seep into the decor.

 

That title worked for the owners, who are empty nesters. 

“I grew up in the hill country of Texas,” the wife says. “I wanted to feel like I was at summer camp all the time.”

The couple wanted enough land to accommodate horses. They originally purchased 10 acres and eventually added the surrounding 60 acres. Plenty of room for five horses, “plus three dogs and a couple of barn cats,” the homeowner jokes. 

The $1.2 million project took 14 months to complete, not counting the six months of planning and tweaking almost every detail. The finished house reflects the couple’s vision and showcases an incredible view of the countryside. 

“This is a great place to be snowed in,” the homeowner says. “When there’s a storm coming, we invite people over.”

“Sunrise, Sunset” could have been the inspiration for positioning the house on the property. The owners can enjoy coffee on the front porch while watching the sun come up; and a glass of wine on the back patio to see it go down.

Several outdoor seating areas were included in the home’s design. The hill country project took 14 months to complete.

 

A long gravel road leads visitors to the property, where they’re greeted by Rusty, a grazing horse made of weathered metal. At the circle driveway, guests get their first view of the vista. 

“On a good day, they can see Okmulgee to the south and Tulsa to the east,” Powers says.

The beamed front porch offers plenty of seating: rockers or a porch swing. The house is big, but not too big. Modern, but not too modern. Fashionable, yet functional. 

The official tour starts at the open kitchen, which was designed for him — the main cook. A huge island houses the Wolf cooktop and seating. A Sub-Zero freezer and refrigerator  bookend the wall of dark cherry cabinets.

The kitchen has a lodge look yet maintains the home’s contemporary feel.

 

Gray-washed trim and stone balance the light and dark effects. Stained concrete floors throughout the main living area give it a rich, rustic feeling. 

Off the kitchen, the utility room doubles as a gallery for the wife’s framed needlepoint. Paintings of the couple’s first two horses hang in the hallway.

The guest wing features two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one that doubles as the pool bath) and a safe room. At the end of this wing sits the man cave/home office/workout room, accented with weights, exercise machines, the requisite big screen and a bird cage. No window coverings needed; only the deer and birds can see in.

An exercise room/man cave was included in the home’s guest wing. 

The master wing was designed for privacy. The hallway leading to it doubles as an art gallery, featuring florals and still life paintings by Eileen Bryce and other Oklahoma artists.

The actual master bedroom is a peaceful retreat with minimal furniture and generous space. A modern soaking tub is the centerpiece of the master bath. 

The master wing includes a luxurious bathroom with a modern soaking tub as the centerpiece.

 

The master closet is bigger than many bedrooms and looks more like a boutique than most retail shops. Custom cabinetry was designed to fit the couple’s wardrobes, including his collection of custom cowboy boots and hers of shoes, in general. Every door and drawer serves a purpose. Upper cabinets hide suitcases and off-season wardrobes.

A tall island adds even more storage. Two “Hold Your Horses” posters provide pops of color and humor. 

Back in the main living area, large open rooms give the home a lodge feel. An abundance of glass and natural light adds to the contemporary vibe. And, thanks to southern-facing dormers, the owners rarely have to turn on a light. 

The living, dining and kitchen area measures 24 by 56 feet — “an open concept in the purest sense,” Powers says. 

A den area takes the place of a formal living room “because there’s no formal living here,” the homeowner says. A fireplace separates the den and game room, located one step down. 

“Everything is appropriate to the home,” the builder says. “It’s a place where you can live and be on vacation.”

Outside, 1,800 square feet of living (and playing) space is perfect for grilling, eating and seating. A fireplace and big TV increase the entertainment options.

The sports activity pool is one depth, making it the ideal venue for volleyball and basketball competitions for the couple’s three sons. 

“When everybody’s in the pool, splashing around, it feels like living in an aquarium,” the owner says. 

A row of chaise lounges on the patio offers an even greater payoff. 

“When there’s a clear sky, you can lie by the pool, look up and see a million stars,” she adds.

She loves taking guests on a tour of the property in her off-road vehicle. The reward at the end is a dinner, prepared by her husband/chef and served outside.

Another bonus: Neighbors allow the family to use 1,700 undeveloped acres to ride four-wheelers and host trail rides. The owner recently hosted her “horse friends” for a morning ride, followed by an outdoor brunch, courtesy of her husband.

Richard Neel is the decorator and lighting expert. 

“From the road, all the lights make the house look like a cruise ship floating in blackness,” he says. 

Few changes have been made since construction three years ago. The raised gardens may make way for a pickle ball court. A guesthouse could be the next project.

For Powers, building a home is more than just putting up drywall and trim. 

“We understand the owners’ focus,” he says. “We create a good spirit in the house.”

For the owner, the best part of living in the dream house is, “the feel. The relaxing nature. I get here and take a deep breath,” she says. “It lives well.”

 

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