WRITER | JULIE FORD
PHOTOS | WINDBORNE PHOTOGRAPHY
From Bloomfield Village to Benzie County, Chris and Kim Pickell (pronounced pick-ELL) and their children have trekked I-75 and M-10 for nearly a decade to Crystal Mountain, one of Michigan’s most scenic golf and ski resorts, located 28 miles southwest of Traverse City.
Initially, on a whim, the Pickells purchased a quaint second home in the resort area that met their needs when the children were small. Over the years, Crystal Mountain’s world-class golf and snow sports instruction helped groom the children into becoming competitive golfers and avid skiers – sports the entire family enjoys.
Four years ago, their current one-acre site was purchased with the intent to build a retirement home after the children graduated from college. Instead, it made more sense for the Pickells to build before the college send-offs in order to have everyone’s input in the design and functionality of the home.
“Our kids view Crystal Mountain as their home,” explains Chris, adding how they were key in designing the screened porch, garages, and golf simulator room. “It’s like an extended family. Crystal Mountain is a family-owned business – it has a huge sense of community, and the owners are very visible, both on the golf courses and on the slopes.”
The expansive, Craftsman-inspired home with four bedrooms, four full baths, and two half-baths, is situated on hole 14 at the 250-yard mark on the Mountain Ridge golf course, one of two championship courses in the Crystal Mountain Resort. “We call it the ‘treehouse,’” notes Chris, as he and Kim describe how important the tall, airy tray ceilings, large open floor plan, and clear view of the golf course from the front door to the back of the home are to the design. “We wanted to capitalize on the views and bring in as much light as possible,” explains Kim. “Even on the grayest winter days, it’s still bright.”
To build their dream retirement home, the Pickells turned to David Puccio, president of Portland Building Company in Honor. Impressed with his work in building a garage for their previous Crystal Mountain home, the Pickells had no reservations in hiring Puccio and his team for the long-distance project. “We felt so strongly about him,” explains Kim. “He is a solid, solid guy, has a very good reputation, has downstate connections, and did a phenomenal job on the garage,” adds Chris. “Being downstate, it’s nice to have someone you completely trust building your home.” Puccio notes that while long-distance building can have its challenges in keeping both the builder and customer on the same page, constant communication and photos are key, especially when modifications are needed.
Puccio and his team adeptly accommodated several onsite changes. Kim recalls the architect’s suggestion for a bathtub in the master bath. “Chris and I are not bathtub people,” she notes. “On the spot, David reconfigured the linen closet and shower to eliminate the tub.” Chris recalls one of the rough framers suggesting that a wall be opened up in an area of the lower level. The advice was greatly appreciated, and the change was made. Neighbors helped, too. One shared how he wished he had a lower garage for the golf cart. The Pickells took note, and Puccio’s team added it. When heavy rains caused water to pool in front of the garage and home, Puccio installed a storm drain system to guide the water away from the home, noting what a lucky break it was to experience that in the building process rather than two years down the road. “We always felt like we had a team with our best interest in mind,” says Kim.
The exterior of the home displays elements of the Craftsman style with decorative, custom-built cedar arches and gable ends, James Hardie siding, and cultured stone. The interiors of both the main and lower levels are vast, light-filled areas designed for ultimate relaxation, entertaining, and enjoying the views from just 20 feet above the golf course. Flooring throughout both levels (including the five-foot-wide staircase and three of the four bedrooms) is engineered European white oak. With a little oil, blemishes disappear into the character of the grain, keeping the family’s rambunctious golden retriever out of the doghouse for any nail scratches.
In the kitchen, Shaker-style white cabinetry, quartzite countertops, a pantry, and the large open area are specifically designed to accommodate both cooking and entertaining with oversized walkways to ease movement. A custom-built range hood in copper hues adds an artistic touch to the clean lines of the kitchen.
Custom built-in bookcases with adjustable shelves on each level, three gas fireplaces in varying sizes using chardonnay-hued drystack ledgestone, and a neutral color scheme throughout the home help create the quiet and cohesive look the Pickells desire. “Literally, it’s the only place where our kids shut off their phones and drop them on the counter,” says Kim.
At every turn, Andersen windows allow stunning views of the woods and golf course, and the large screened porch with floor-to-ceiling fireplace stonework truly allows a bird’s-eye view of the natural surroundings. Sliding aluminum-framed windows not only protect the screens from harsh winter winds, but also allow the Pickells to leave the outdoor furnishings in place year-round.
On the lower walkout level, family and guests can gather around the granite-topped bar, watch a game, or peruse golf memorabilia and the many golf trophies the entire family has earned over the years. Outside, an ample patio with cultured stonework and limestone caps for seating surround a custom-built fire pit that is truly unique. “We put special piping to draw air into the concrete block box to get constant air to stoke the fire,” explains Puccio. “It’s very custom.”
Located below the garage area, a golf simulation room with a 12-foot-ceiling and Full Swing Golf simulator allows the Pickells to play golf year-round and hone their skills. “It’s the simulator of choice for the pros,” explains Chris. “It’s very realistic, accurate, and has 84 courses on it.” Kim adds, “It will give you all the statistics of your swing. Because the kids are such competitive golfers, they are in tune with their numbers and can continue to work year-round to perfect their craft.”
Spending quality time with family and friends, playing the courses, or skiing the slopes, the Pickell family combines sports and relaxation while deeply valuing the connectedness of the Crystal Mountain community. “It’s hard to describe,” says Kim. “There are beautiful ski resorts that may have more runs, altitude, or amenities, but we have a whole community that we enjoy being with.” Chris adds, “It’s not a second house; it’s a home — for us, the kids, for the grandkids, for friends — we’d like to think it’s a direct reflection of us.”
Portland Building Company 10715 S. Main Street, Honor MI 49640 l (231) 325-0330 l PortlandBuilding.com