Marnie and Shane Fernandez’s family home has arguably the best view in Tulsa. The midtown residence they recently built is elevated above the street with a stunning sight line: Gathering Place.
“People always ask us who the contractor is, and it’s fun to say, ‘We built it,’” says Shane, who designed the home with drawings by hand and constructed most of it with son Tristan, 18, and stepson Nicholas, 16. “One person called it the ‘Avengers’ house or the Tony Stark house,” he says, laughing.
“A lot of people have asked me, ‘What is this structure?’” adds Marnie, principal/owner of public relations and strategy firm sixPR. “I say, ‘It’s our house.’ They’re always so interested in what it is.”
The Fernandezes first purchased the land that would eventually peer over Gathering Place a decade ago. The house is elevated above the street line, so the family has an outdoor living space beneath and a view of Gathering Place’s boat house and pond.
Shane, who is the president and chairman of USA BMX, has a 25-year background in architecture and construction and always wanted to build a home in a style that reflects his roots.
“The Danish side of my family have all built their own homes,” he says. “My uncle was a professor of engineering at the University of Copenhagen and an artist. He built a minimal beach house in Copenhagen, and he’s always giving me a hard time about when I would finally build my own house, especially with my background in architecture.”
Shane lived in Los Angeles before moving to Tulsa, so his aesthetic has always leaned toward a more minimalist style with open living spaces and natural materials. To the right of the driveway is a curved staircase leading up to the front door, which opens into a large living space with a kitchen, dining and living rooms, and an office area. Windows make up most of the front and back of house.
“It’s a passive solar design. That way in the winter the sun works for you to warm the house, but in the summer the sun doesn’t make it hotter,” Shane says. “I wanted to tie as much back to the outdoors as possible.”
The kids’ bedrooms run along the west side of the open living area, and the entire east side of the home is a private primary suite with bedroom, bathroom and closet for the couple.
The showstopper is the view, of course, and the northwest windows include sliding windows that open right out to the air and sounds of Gathering Place. The roof offers a prime view of the park, with the illumined nighttime colors of the boathouse and a front-row seat for fireworks shows.
The details are meticulous, and the home’s interior style reflects the couple’s taste. Marnie’s colorful art and personal touches blend alongside Shane’s collection of helmets, BMX bikes and skateboards. The exposed metal air ducts and tool cabinets with granite countertops give it a modern, relaxed feel.
After Shane completed the design, construction began in late 2019 and the family moved in by early 2021. Constructing the project with his sons was the most rewarding part of the process.
“We did all the foundation work, as much framing as we could, all the rebar, and we did it all on nights and weekends,” Shane says. “It was a great experience because the boys don’t always communicate as much as our girls, so because of the design of the foundation I could hear them talking to each other, telling each other what was going on in their lives.
“I made them move (materials) with wheelbarrows and shovels. They were like, ‘Dad, couldn’t you get a Bobcat?’ I said, ‘No, I have you.’”
Marnie says the conversations at dinnertime turned into “true construction talk.” Although she anticipated construction would go slowly, she learned so much along the way.
“I have a huge appreciation for it,” she says. “It’s incredible all the thought that goes into it. Every time Shane gives a tour, I learn something new.”
The family is now accustomed to people stopping and staring at the house from Gathering Place trails.
“One day our son was outside when people were talking about it. He said, ‘Hey guys, I built that house.’
“They have so much pride,” Shane says. “There were so many life lessons outside of architecture and construction. It was such a wonderful journey with the boys — we had no idea.”