Shading in stone inspired the palette of this family-friendly compound
Working with an Atlanta-based design team of architectural designer William T. Baker, landscape architect Alec Michaelides, and interior designer Suzanne Kasler, Tom and Leah Crowley spent two years planning how to turn their vision of a family-friendly compound outside Indianapolis into a reality. Restoring the landscape—it had been the site of a sand and gravel quarry—was of utmost importance, and the challenge lay in designing a house to complement the property's features.
"This was not for the meek-hearted, let me tell you," Tom says. "But I wanted a place where our kids could just be kids." There's a lake full of bass, several centuries-old oaks and maples to climb, a pool, sledding hills, a vegetable garden, and soon, an orchard. That's not even mentioning the amenities of the expansive stone house, including a bunk room for sleepovers and a porch with a fireplace where the family gathers to roast marshmallows and talk about the day. "We are home a lot. We spend a lot of time with each other," Leah says. And that was the point. Tom, who grew up roaming the central Illinois countryside, saw an opportunity to give his children the free-range environment and solid home base he had enjoyed as a child.
Residential design: William T. Baker, William T. Baker & Assoc. Ltd., 78 West Wesley Rd. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/261-0446, wtbaker.com .
Interior design: Suzanne Kasler, Suzanne Kasler Interiors, 425 Peachtree Hills Ave., Suite 21B, Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/355-1035, suzannekasler.com .
Builder: Leonard Watson, Artisan Homes Inc., 7445 E. County Rd. 400 N., Brownsburg, IN 46112; 317/852-7310.
Landscape architect: Alec Michaelides, Land Plus Assoc. Ltd., 416 E. Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, GA 30305; 404/238-9595, landplusassociates.com .
Photography: Tria Giovan
Produced by Betsy Harris
At the start of the 20-month construction phase, Tom Crowley selected a Tennessee fieldstone to clad the exterior of the house. An uncommon material because of the variety of tones and hues in every batch, it turned out to be an inspired choice.
So impressed by the shadings in the stone, interior designer Kasler mined its silvery gray, buff, cream, and dusky russet hues to ply inside the house as well. In the living room, she made use of the smoky-blues, accented with bone and golden tan. “I love to use color so that its presence is felt but not dramatic,” Kasler says.
Grass cloth wall coverings tinted the color of the lake on a clear day sets an elegant mood in the dining room, and Kasler colored the ceiling shimmery gold to create a heightened aura during dinner parties.
Designer Kasler chose the gauzy blue of a winter sky on walls and chairs in the living room, then warmed up the area with a pale camel rug, table skirt, and sofa. A limestone mantel and carved moldings replicate elements of an English manor house.
Expanses of glass allow light to pour into the room.
Paneled walls and antique wood beams mark the casual family room. Armchairs and sofas upholstered in coral- and chocolate-hued chenille fabrics are made for barefoot lounging.
Next to the kitchen is a family dining area. The twig chandelier, ordered from a catalog, connects the room with the outdoors.
In the kitchen, granite countertops, dual dishwashers, and a commercial-grade sink faucet help Leah serve up snacks and meals for dozens of kids-her own plus visiting friends. A pair of islands hold hors d'oeuvres when adults crowd the kitchen and adjoining family room. "There is truly not a room in this house that we don't use," Leah says. A range with a mosaic tile backsplash and mantel-style hood is the kitchen's focal point.
Hushed by layers of luxurious fabrics, the master bedroom is an adult retreat. French doors, softened by wool paisley curtains, open to a balcony overlooking the lake.
Shining over the master bath, the ceiling is covered in torn pieces of wallpaper flecked with silver leaf. "I wanted the tub to be the bath's central feature," says Leah.
All of the Crowley youngsters use the bunk room as a play space, and it's the hub of activity for sleepovers with friends and cousins. The built-ins were wired to allow for reading lights above each bed.
Jumbo painted diamonds decorate the space outside the children's bedrooms.
Tom and Leah Crowley have six children, with (from left) Kendall, Gabrielle, Gressa, and Michael living at home full-time.