A Home Away From Home

While quaint summer cottages and condominium conveniences appeal to many seasonal residents of the peninsula, for others, there’s simply no place like “home”  – away from home that is.

A condo is often where it all starts, the day-dreaming, that is, the constant dreaming about the “perfect Door County home.” For Bob Murphy, it began when he was five years old with the family vacations on the peninsula.

When Bob and wife Linda began a family of their own, they continued visiting regularly. The Murphy family resides primarily in Lake Forest, Illinois, and purchased their vacation condominium in 1987 – but always fantasized of owning a vacation home that could provide the perfect setting for their growing family. “It was always our dream to own a piece of property here,” says Linda. “Each time we visited, we were looking at land, but we stayed in the condo for quite awhile before we found what we wanted.”

What they found was a three-acre piece of land in Egg Harbor’s Horseshoe Bay development. Bob loves golf. Linda wanted to relax. She didn’t want to spend her vacations driving the kids around. Horseshoe Bay seemed to be the perfect fit, with a fantastic course and plenty of amenities. Now it was time to begin planning the “perfect home.”

The Murphys had found the ideal site for their vacation home, but wanted to be sure that it would suit their family, as well as accommodate any guests who might want to visit. As Linda said, “There’s always a full house. We have four children aged 11, 13, 15, and 17 and they usually bring friends along. We also have other family and friends come to stay with us fairly often.”

The time was right to create a house plan and the Murphys turned to Hugh Mulliken of Ephraim, who has been designing residences and commercial properties since 1971. “When I design a home, I learn a lot about the people who will be living in it, and the specifics of their lifestyle,” Mulliken says. “Then I design around that information. The Murphys were looking for a custom home with very specific accommodations. It’s a summer home, and how this home would be used needed to influence the design. There are two separately functioning areas. Downstairs, mom and dad have their own space – and upstairs, the kids and guests have privacy.”

As a result, the house features an open floor plan, with an expansive great room/family room, and a dining room, kitchen, and master suite on the first floor. There are four bedrooms upstairs; two featuring their own ‘Jack and Jill’ baths. For alternative recreational space to the first-floor family room, there’s also an upstairs game room. It all adds up to a layout that meets the needs of a busy family on vacation.

Mulliken has worked on a number of homes with Van’s Lumber & Custom Builders over the years, and says, “To make a successful home, several things come into the equation. The first is the builder…their carpenters do things exactly as I specify.” The Murphys chose to work with Van’s because they offered competitive pricing and good value — and could meet the deadline. Van’s promised a completion date of July 1st…the Murphys began moving in on July 2nd.

“I’m a homebuilder in Chicago, and I know how hard that kind of promise is to deliver,” says Bob. “Construction was finished in only nine months, and the craftsmanship is phenomenal.” Tom Sherry, a Van’s salesperson who worked closely with the Murphys, says the important thing is that the project met his customer’s lifestyle needs. “They’re a young, growing, active family. Though it’s beautiful, their home is not simply a showplace, but a real, livable home that fits the way it’s being used perfectly.”

Not only does the Murphy home fit its inhabitants, but also the Door County environment. Commenting on the use of cedar shingles on the exterior and limestone on the patio, Mulliken says, “The blend of materials on the exterior has the demeanor of a home that’s been in Door County for quite awhile. When you walk into it, you see the view through trees. You aren’t looking at denuded bluffs.”

Inside, many details echo the palette outdoors. A limestone fireplace in the great room spans the 18 feet from floor to ceiling, with a wrought iron hearth door and an old barn beam mantle to add homespun charm.

Bob comments, “As part-time residents, it’s not always easy to have the feeling of home, but I think that keeping all of our specific needs in mind, and tailoring the home to fit into this environment really helped us to achieve that feeling.”