This rustic country lodge-style home derives much of its old world charm from the exclusive use of a veneer of ew gold limestone and brushed mortar joints.
January 14, 2016 7:00 AM CST
Good as gold
EW Gold provides a rustic feel to a new home
Masonry Institute of St. Louis
Three hundred and fifty tons of limestone blocks make an impressive pile of rocks. When this buff colored stone is assembled into a custom home and barn on sixty acres of rolling pasture and woodland, it becomes an architectural treasure.
Designed by Lauren Strutman, Lauren Strutman Architects, and built by Roentz Homes, this rustic country lodge-style home derives much of its identity and charm from the extensive use of masonry, both inside and out.
Fireplaces of EW Gold carry the exterior feel into the living space.
The owners knew their dream retirement home would have an Old World feel. “We had a vision of what we wanted to do early on,” said the homeowner, who prefers to remain anonymous. “We communicated our ideas to the architect, who suggested a builder with a wonderful inventory of homes to serve as samples.” A tour of an existing home built by homebuilder Gene Roentz confirmed the style the owners were looking to use for their new home in west St. Louis County. They fell in love with a style Roentz calls “Americanized Tuscan” because of its use of stone, brushed mortar joints, stucco and antique pine timbers topped with a steep faux-slate roof. The home’s entire masonry veneer and all its fireplaces and barn are constructed entirely of EW Gold limestone from the Earthworks quarry in Perryville, Missouri.
Shawnee Flagstone leads through the garden wall to the home’s front door. This project used 35 tons of this Shawnee Flagstone on this house and grounds.
While communication is critical in achieving the goals on a custom home, it also helps to have a solid relationship with the tradesmen executing the vision. Both the architect and builder share a history of collaboration with Bricklayers’ Union Local #1 of Missouri of Spencer Brickwork. “The masonry and beautiful crafted rustic stonework was a wonderful complement to my design,” said architect Lauren Strutman. “The workmanship exhibited by Spencer Brickwork was outstanding, as it always is. They were able to bring our design and ideas to life, leaving a beautiful home by working with the stucco and timber accents that were integrated with the stonework.” The builder also praises the masonry work on this house – particularly in the execution of the mortar finish. Roentz is very specific about his preferences for mortar joints on the houses he builds. “The mortar joints are brushed rather than struck, which adds to the Old World look of the house,” said Gene Roentz. “Spencer Brickwork is the best at doing this type of work. They have worked for me for 25 years and never disappointed me. Their level of craftsmanship is second to none.”
The masonry work on this house began in late winter of 2014. The first task involved construction of the chimneys. Foremen Mike Gilbert and Larry Murphy of Spencer Brickwork oversaw the work on this project. “We usually have one foreman start the project, get the chimneys done, and then another foreman comes in to veneer it,” said John Spencer, owner of Spencer Brickwork. “When we build these large houses there are usually a couple chimneys that go up through the roof. We build the scaffolding tower and erect the chimneys. Then the carpenters come and swing in the roof trusses. That is the pressure part of the job. We have to get the chimneys done so we can keep the builder on schedule.”
A wood fired pizza oven on the patio is a unique feature of the home.
Fireplaces of EW Gold limestone carry the country lodge feel established in the exterior construction into the living space. Gene Roentz favors hearthstones cut from solid pieces of unfinished rock that he selects at the Earthworks quarry, based on the size, shape and texture. It is the same rock as the EW Gold used throughout the house, just raw and organic, like it was plucked from the base of a river bluff. “The intent is to give the impression that the fireplace grew out of the ledge stone,” said Roentz. “The Bricklayers’ Union Local #1 of Missouri did a great job of blending the hearth stone with the rest of the fireplace so it looks like one stone.”
Weighing about 3,500 pounds, these stones can be fragile because of seams and cracks. They require special handling throughout the quarrying and through the installation process. These large, single stone slabs accent the fireplaces in the first floor great room and hearth room and the lower level recreation room. “The hearthstones add to the character and personality of the house,” said Strutman.
One of three fireplaces featuring hearthstones of unfinished limestone.
A home entertainment center on the lower level features a stone ledge under the movie screen and around the speaker towers. This is constructed from EW Gold stones, with the same thick, brushed mortar joints used throughout the house.
Transition from the home’s interior to the exterior pool deck and patio is achieved through an outdoor room. Shawnee flagstone tile provides the flooring. Thirty-five tons of Shawnee flagstone were used on this project. This provides a perfect complement for the limestone. Spencer Brickwork foreman Mike Gilbert compared the process of laying the irregular shaped flagstone tiles to assembling a puzzle.
This garden wall of EW Gold limestone surrounds the home’s front entrance.
A limestone fireplace anchors the west wall of the outside room. The north and south exposures are framed open air space with automated, retractable screens. The flagstones continue to the pool deck and patio. A unique feature of the outdoor patio is a wood-fired brick pizza oven built into one wall of the home’s exterior.
The house, including a guest suite and outdoor room, totals over 7,000 sq. ft. In addition to an
attached three-car garage, there is also a barn made of the same combination of EW gold, timber and stucco used on the house. “The barn is built into a hill, so it is accessible on two levels. It is meant to complement the house,” said architect Lauren Strutman.
A multi-level “bank barn” built into a hillside complements the old world feel of the house by using the same combination of EW Gold limestone block, brushed mortar and antique timber that is used on the house.
Roentz, who draws much of his inspiration from visits to European country homes, also praises the spare visual impact of the barn. “The barn is very plain and simple, but impressive,” added Gene Roentz. The barn’s upper story loft offers room to expand as guest quarters or studio space. There is no rush on that project, as the owners are enjoying retirement and settling into their new home.
About the Author
The Masonry Institute of St. Louis is a promotional organization that serves as an educational and informational resource on masonry design and construction on behalf of the Mason Contractors Association-St. Louis and Bricklayers' Union Local No. 1 of Missouri. For more information, please visit www.masonrystl.org.
Photos by Michael DeFilippo.
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