The story below is an excerpt from our March/April 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
The Bonesteel family moves on from mid-century modern by going back in time to a home where “Frank Lloyd Wright meets the mountains.”
Paul Bonesteel describes the house he and wife Wyndy live in as “Frank Lloyd Wright meets the mountains.” The Bonesteels’ house in east Asheville, North Carolina is just that, a gorgeous Prairie Modern home of simplicity and clean lines at the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
With their two sons and a menagerie of animals domestic and wild, the Bonesteels inhabit a home that is beautiful without being stagy, full of guy energy and busy schedules. At the helm of Bonesteel enterprises is Wyndy, the implacably cheerful nurturer. And driving Bonesteel Films is Paul, a documentary filmmaker who also makes branded entertainment for TV networks like HGTV and the Food Network.
What makes the story of their home all the more compelling is the calamity from which it was born. Their house emerged from ashes, fire having destroyed their Mid-Century Modern home three years ago. The blaze forced them to focus on what they really wanted in a house. It made them define their aesthetic.
“The truth is,” Paul says in their backyard, the space so open that it deadens sound as completely as a voice actor’s closet studio, “once the drama of the fire was over and we accepted that it would be maybe a year that we would be in this mode, we adapted pretty easily. We decided, let’s make the best of it and design a house we want to be in for the rest of our lives.”
Within a couple of weeks of the fire, living in a friend’s house, Paul and Wyndy had drawn sketches that included what they liked about their old place – lots of windows, big bedrooms – and what they wanted in their new one. What they wanted, they decided was something that Frank Lloyd Wright might have designed. Which led them to Prairie, a style Wright created to fit into the long, low lines of the Midwest flats. Working with Living Stone Construction in Asheville, the Bonesteels came up with a contemporary house that is quintessentially Prairie Modern.
Prairie Modern means a lot of different things, depending on the architects, builders and people who design, construct and live in it. For the Bonesteels, it meant tall windows, crossword-perfect lines and a patio that would be part of the dining room if it weren’t for the wall of glass that separate the two. Their house has traits common to the Prairie tradition – the squat silhouette, the recessed eaves and an open floor plan. It also has the casement windows, the central chimney and clerestory windows. But the styling of the Bonesteel house is thoroughly modern.
To the gently pitched roof common to Prairie, Paul and Wyndy added an aerie of an office and, on the south-facing plane, they put in several solar panels that produce some of the electricity the family needs. The 3,030-square-foot house, with four bedrooms and three and a half baths, is heated and cooled via a geothermal system. It is a certified Energy Star and Green Built North Carolina home with passive solar design.