OZARKS SIGNATURE March April 2008
LIVE HOME PROFILE Custom-built house pays tribute to craftsmanship
Michelle Cantrell worked with local artisans while designing her southwest Springfield home; she also added international touches with pieces from around the world.
by SUSAN ATTEBERRY SMITH
Michelle Cantrell hasn’t been to Indonesia, but the latched teak doors opening to her home library call to mind an old church there.
Neither has she been to Italy — yet. But looking at a painting over her fireplace — a vibrant depiction of empty boats in a Venetian canal — Michelle is beginning to consider her next big adventure.
Another picture is forming in her mind. “And that’s where I want to go this year,” she says, her dark eyes turning away from the painting as she muses about the country of gondolas, da Vinci and the Vatican. “Who knows what ideas I’ll come back with?” So the real estate agent’s imagination flows — and finds ways to express itself — in the southwest Springfield Timberbrooke Estates home she designed almost two years ago.
The 5,000-square-foot stucco home may be close to brand-new, yet the feel of a centuries-old abbey is evoked by the front porch, where wrought-iron fixtures cast light on two massive, arched doors.
Inside, Michelle’s home continues to reflect her fascination with distant destinations, including places she has seen as well as places she plans to travel.
It also shows her appreciation for craftsmanship, whether it’s found in faraway lands or right here in southwest Missouri.
The cast-concrete and stucco stove hood in the kitchen has plenty of details.
A CUSTOM HOME, BUILT FOR COMPANY
This is the first home Michelle, 43, a divorced mother of three adult sons, has built on her own. When she began to envision it about three years ago, she says, “I pretty much had in mind the floor plan I wanted.”
Michelle, a Carol Jones Realtors associate, had shown enough homes since the early 1990s to know that an open floor plan would suit her best. In her Timberbrooke home, no doors separate the living room from the dining area and the kitchen.
It’s a floor plan that fits her lifestyle, for Michelle has plenty of company besides her fluffy bichon frise, Callie. Not only does she have two grandchildren, Riley and Breckin, a daughter-in-law, Monica, and three sons who are in and out of the home — Brent, 25, Bryce, 23, and Blake, 20 — but she also enjoys having friends over.
“I entertain a lot, and all my friends call and say, ‘Let’s have a party there.’”
BRINGING A PIECE OF MEXICO TO THE OZARKS
The places Michelle has been — England, France, Ireland and Mexico — influenced her design decisions as she planned the home.
Some of the home’s colors, furnishings and decorative accents remind her of Mexico, one of her favorite vacation spots.
Along with wrought-iron chandeliers from that country, she has also decorated with rich earth tones: A living room couch is a lush brown velvet, for example, and dining room chairs are a dark red print.
“This house was really designed to have a Mexican look,” she says.
On a wall in the same room, a collection of at least twenty crosses, souvenirs from her travels, surround a mirror above a small, sturdy bench that might have found its place in a little old church south of the border.
Among those crosses, one of Michelle’s favorites is adorned with milagros — in Hispanic culture, these are tiny symbolic “miracle” charms offered to saints along with prayers for healing the aspects of life the charms represent.
Michelle’s cross collection, along with large paintings of a Madonna and child in her chapel-like library and an archangel above her bed, sometimes prompt friends to ask whether she’s Catholic.
She isn’t, she says, adding that “I bought the crosses never knowing what I would do with them,” yet Michelle also says she is a spiritual person who enjoys reading books about matters of faith.
And, she notes, her father was a Church of Christ minister.
GOURMET KITCHEN MODELED ON FRENCH COUNTRY ESTATES
Michelle, raised near Republic, enjoys carrying on in her new home a custom common to many traditional Ozarks families: “We have a rule around here,” she says. “On Sunday, everyone has to come home for dinner.”
Michelle prepares her Sunday dinners in a spacious gourmet kitchen inspired by travels in another country: France.
With custom-built cabinetry, including hand-carved refrigerator doors, an ornate decorative concrete stove hood, granite and marble counters, and floors of travertine tile (a type of stone tile), the kitchen hardly lacks beauty. But with an industrial-grade gas stove, two ovens and two large work islands, it is also very much a working kitchen.
“I do love to cook,” she says.
Michelle’s ideas for her elegant yet eclectic-looking kitchen came from a vacation a few years ago that included tours of French country estates.
Still, translating her vision for the craftsmen working on her home wasn’t necessarily easy. Her desire to mix different kinds of wood and colors of stains for the cabinets and islands, for example, drew questions until she explained that such combinations were common in the kitchens she had admired in that country.
Plus, she says, “You know, I think I just like the look. I like the look of old with new, of light with dark.”
Hand-crafted pieces are found throughout Michelle’s home, from bookcases to carvings. Some of the pieces were made in the Ozarks; others were discovered for her in Indonesia by the owners of Quixote Organic Modern Furniture in Springfield. The shop’s owners, Stan and Sherry Fauscett, commissioned hand-carved columns to visually separate the living and dining areas in her home and selected carved corbels — small corner supports — that found their way into the kitchen.
GLOBAL TOUCHES ALSO FOUND IN HOME’S ARCHITECTURE
Foreign countries inspired Michelle’s architectural choices, too.
“When I travel, that’s the thing I enjoy the most, is looking at old buildings.”
In France, she was intrigued by stairways placed at the backs of homes instead of in entryways, so the hickory-tread stairway to the second floor starts at the back of the kitchen.
And though Michelle hasn’t been to Indonesia, when she saw examples of Indonesian architecture and décor at Quixote Organic Modern Furniture, a global furnishings store in Springfield, she knew similar pieces would fit perfectly in her new home.
On a buying trip to the southeast Asian country, the shop’s owners, Stan and Sherry Fauscett, discovered the church doors for Michelle’s library, commissioned hand-carved columns to visually separate the living and dining areas in her home and selected carved corbels — small corner supports —that found their way into Michelle’s kitchen.
WORK OF LOCAL CRAFTSMEN ALSO ON VIEW
Throughout the construction of her home, Michelle says the talent of local artisans amazed her.
Neil Wood drew the plans for the house and worked with Michelle on the design.
A lavish, cast-concrete fireplace in the living room, created by Tom Ehlers, would have been at home in an aristocratic estate of another time and place. Ehlers also built and designed the cast-concrete and stucco stove hood in the kitchen.
Lamar Jamerson, a Springfield-based maker of custom wood products, designed and built the front door.
Dunham Henry made some of the home’s bookshelves and cabinets. He and Michelle designed the kitchen, wine cabinet and bars together.
“These guys are just amazing, and they do such great work,” she says. “We have such talented people right here.”
Michelle is now busy putting her own talents to work as she helps design and sell future lofts in the Heer’s building. She loves working on long-term projects, she says, and designing, building and decorating her home brought the same sense of accomplishment. “I had a picture in my mind of what it was going to look like, and it looks just like the picture I had in my mind.”