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Wooden wonderland: Lawrence County home designed to accentuate timber skeleton

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A timber frame house in Portersville was designed by the owner and is for sale Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2013.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
A timber frame house in Portersville was designed by the owner and is for sale Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

Patrick Krantz says he had a barn in mind when he designed his three-story, timber-frame home.

But the white cupola above the bright red walls give it the look of an old schoolhouse. For a reason.

“I am a teacher,” Krantz says with a grin.

The house was part of “doing something with my life” after a kidney transplant in 2006, but now life has changed again. His marriage has fallen apart and he says it is time to move on. The home on 1.8 acres on a wooded hillside in Lawrence County is for sale for $475,000.

The four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home is distinct because of its design, which Krantz says began with him standing on a clearing on the property and deciding which way he wanted the house to sit. Creating a straight line with his arms, he placed the home so it would receive a great deal of light naturally.

Krantz is science education teacher at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Lawrence County. He is the head of the Drinko Center, an outreach program.

The most striking feature of the house is not seen until a visitor goes inside: the timber frame. In that sort of construction, a timber skeleton of the house is prepared, then assembled and raised onsite. The exterior of the home is then built onto the frame, which remains visible on the inside.

It is a construction that creates an interior filled with patterns of wood, sloping down from the roof, running down the walls and cutting across horizontal space.

It is a design Krantz says he felt was suited to the barn-like building he had in mind. He put together a small model of his thoughts and took it to OakBridge Timber Framing. That firm from Howard, Ohio, was founded by Amish workers who had built such structures in their youth.

“They looked at it, stroked their beards, and decided it could work,” Krantz says.

Joni (pronounced JO-nye) Miller, office manager of the firm, says Krantz had put together a design that was “friendly for timber-framing.”

He says the rectangular, barn-like design was well-suited to a timber frame. Miller also says it was obvious Krantz understood he had to keep the ceilings of the rooms high enough to allow room for the frame.

“He really knew what he was doing,” Miller says.

Krantz says he was able to find out “what he was doing” simply by asking questions. When he wondered about using insulation to keep floors warm, he found out about material he could put under flooring to do it.

He also stayed loose enough in his thinking that when some design element emerged, he could react to it creatively, moving a window, for instance, if it needed to happen.

“It's just cutting a hole in the wall,” he says.

He also says, half-jokingly, that the width and placement of the hallways were designed so his son, Cooper, now 3, “could get around on his Big Wheel.”

While the exterior of the home is traditional, the interior of the home is contemporary, even when timber frames challenge that style. For instance, the kitchen flows into the dining and living area, creating the currently popular open concept.

But the design takes on an L fashion because of the frame.

Also in sync with current design is the first-floor master suite with a large walk-in closet sealed off by rolling barn doors.

The other two bedrooms, which share a full bathroom, are on the second floor which has a loft overlooking the family room.

Hanging next to the loft and over the living area is a electric-candle chandelier Krantz found at a farm in Missouri. It is hanging on a thick, cloth cable, like a line from a sailing ship, mounted in place by two pulleys.

“But it doesn't lower,” he says, reaching over to the light and gently spinning it. “It you have to change a bulb, you just reach them this way.”

From the loft, it is tempting to look for the stairs to the cupola, but nothing goes up there. The synthetic-walled structure sits on the roof as a decoration rather than a lookout spot.

“I didn't want to cut any holes in the roof,” Krantz says. “It doesn't matter what kind of flashing you have, cutting a hole in the roof is just asking for trouble.”

The roof, by the way, creates another element of drama. It is known as a “12 by 12,” which means it rises 12 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal size, creating 45-degree angles.

The ground floor of the home gets added heat from its own pellet stove, has a kitchenette, bathroom and enough space for a bedroom. It could be a guest or in-law suite, Krantz says.

The house is filled with sought-after features, such as wide-plank hickory flooring in the dining and living area and maple in the loft. The kitchen features cherry cabinets and granite countertops.

The kitchen has a curious blend of old and new: a traditional farm sink done in stainless steel.

The site has a three car, barn-like garage with a room in the second floor that could be a studio or apartment.

Krantz says it took about a year and a half to put the home together, from finding the property in mid-2006 to move-in day in January 2008. He doesn't think he will build from ground up for his next house, but doesn't reject the idea, either.

“I don't think I would mind,” he says.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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