Comfort in the Heights

local realtor and contractor design a house for real life
The Boalses' open kitchen features state-of-the-art stainless-steel appliances, a cooking island and plenty of counter space for entertaining.

You'd never know these two-plus acres atop Aerial Heights in East Medford once were thickly carpeted in poison oak. Neatly mown grounds accented by circles of tree shade are now populated by deer, quail and other wildlife; rock retaining walls define an ample driveway; and Leyland cyprus trees get a summer soaking thanks to a drip irrigation system.

As principal broker for Keller Williams Realty in Medford, Stacey Boals sees many lots, yet this one stood out.

Going geothermal

Five-hundred feet of underground pipe keeps Stacey and David Boals' residential water at a constant temperature. This geothermal heating system is the "most efficient heat pump ever made, producing an endless supply of hot water," explains David Boals, who was building contractor on the house high in the East Medford hills.

"It totally reduces the need for a heat pump," he says. "We have a 2,500-gallon holding tank and a commercial-sized water heater to go with it."

That translates into 165 gallons of hot water at all times — enough for a large family to be doing laundry, dishes and several showers at once.

The geothermal system joins several other features Boals added to increase his home's efficiency: an integrated interior sound system, central vacuum systems in both the house and garage and building materials that make sense.

"There are two acres of fire break around the house, and the exterior materials include concrete siding, plaster eaves and good, native materials," he says. "And we have a 100-year, fire-rated architectural composition roof."

"I had it listed, but the guy wanted to downsize, and my husband, David, and I were so drawn by the great view," says Boals of the endless reach of Rogue Valley stretching out below the property. "This is the first time we've built a house for ourselves."

Squirrels play in a water feature on the covered front patio, which features a "skin" concrete finish. Hardy plank siding lines the home's exterior, and the trim is made from reclaimed bricks. A fire-retardant composition roof protects the entire structure. Asian-inspired wind chimes and a giant Buddha statue welcome visitors through a mahogany, copper and stained-glass front door.

"I saw it at a home show, let out a squeal and I just knew I had to have it," recalls Boals, who further customized the door with elegant, leaded-glass panels. Venetian bronze hardware — used everywhere but the kitchen — enhances the Arts and Crafts design.

Exotic woods, cool stone and eclectic decor define the Boalses' 5,150-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath home.

"It was a real lesson in wood, which I knew nothing about before this house," she says of choosing hickory floors; clear, vertical-grain fir doors; cabinets and windows with vinyl-clad exteriors. Art and Crafts-style trim, casings and baseboards all were made on site.

The couple's signature "Asian-fusion" style dominates an open dining and living room. Two pillars and a coffered ceiling covered in Anaglypta wallpaper define the former; gold chargers, chopsticks and Asian chests add formality. The rich palette of brown, burgundy, gold and red continues into the living room, where one of the home's four fireplaces is graced with a Tigerwood hardwood mantel.

Stacey Boals' taste for unique accents is embodied by antique lamps, a vintage wooden bar, animal prints and several selections from her elephant collection. A sliding door onto the back deck, where a jungle of coconut trees and other tropical plants creates an island-themed escape, reveals more Tigerwood.

An oversized utility room with extra fridge, sink and plenty of granite-topped cabinets offers abundant space for laundry and event staging. A nearby butler's pantry stores nonperishables, kitchen overflow and cookbooks.

Lots of life happens at the desk-sized island in the middle of the kitchen. From here, Boals can prep a small meal, catch up on work and coordinate busy schedules with David, as well as care of their furry family of three cats, The Bitz, Kona and Sophia.

Honey-colored fir cabinets with Shaker-style doors and rain-glass panels, a garden window over the sink, granite counters and tile floors are accessorized by brushed nickel hardware and three Venetian bronze pendant lights that hang over the peninsula's breakfast bar.

Dinner guests often are hosted around a glass table in the adjoining dining nook, embraced by a panoramic valley view.

The master suite, located on the other side of the living room, is carpeted in short shag and features a cove ceiling. Luxury reigns in the bath with its long, double vanity and a mood-lit BainUltra tub surrounded by windows and an inset gas fireplace.

Another full bath sits at the end of the front hall, past a music room that could be converted into a bedroom for an additional main-level suite. Whimsically decorated with a cabinet of elephant statues and a fireplace mantel upheld by two female-shaped figurines, the music room is anchored by a reproducing piano, antique stool and stacks of music rolls.

Down the semicircular staircase is where the couple relaxes. A home office, guest room and entire guest suite flank the family room. Also downstairs is a 15-by-15-foot subterranean wine room, its climate kept constant year-round by cement walls and a cork floor.

Many custom touches add ease and efficiency to the Boalses' hillside house, without forsaking casual comfort and a sense of fun-loving formality.

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