It’s not every day that I get to write an article on an award-winning home, but today I guess is the day! This home just won the prestigious “Best in American Living Award” for 2018 from the National Association of Home Builders. Owner/builder Scott Branc will be heading to Las Vegas soon to be recognized at the International Builder’s Show to find out whether he won the Platinum, Gold, or Silver honor. This will be a pretty cool addition to his resume, given that he’s the owner of West Michigan’s New Urban Home Builders, specializing in boutique builds and high-end renovations. This project began in 2017 with Jeff Visser as the lead design and collaboration with Rock Kauffman design and decorating.
These are some pretty sweet digs for anyone who has any appreciation for architecture. The attention to detail and level of precision are impossible to miss. Owner Scott explained to me that this was intentional. He wanted it to feel like an architect lives here, so everything was literally measured and placed with lasers and incredible precision. I had to wire my jaw up every time I turned a corner because there was something else interesting to see, beginning with the entry. The massive 400–500lb solid Douglas Fir front door swings open effortlessly on shiny pivot hinges to reveal a stunning main floor living area with floor to ceiling 8’x8’ custom Pella windows. This open concept living area also boasts soaring ceilings with three massive hanging drum lights and a custom concrete gas fireplace. The hardware and everything in the home is very shiny and clean-lined, and the lighting is fabulous. Dozens of little square chrome “puck lights” dot the ceilings strategically throughout this living space, and throughout the home. Lighting was clearly very important to everyone involved with this project.
When Scott confronted Jeff and Rock to create this 4 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home, he basically told them to “just do what you want.” He said that took a lot of courage, especially since he’s in the business as a builder, and has a degree in mechanical engineering from Western MI. “It’s hard to just let someone else make your choices for you,” he said, but he’s also known both gentlemen for nearly 20 years. And he feels like Jeff, in particular, is not stuck in a certain look; “he can do anything, has a large bandwidth.”
Some of the choices that were made for him included the wonderful kitchen by Tru Kitchens. Grabill kick-out and self-closing cabinetry has the vertical lines of tigerwood on one wall, including the refrigerator, and underneath the bar. Scott credits Rock with the cleverly used kitchen space. “It’s a very functional kitchen,” Scott explains, “without being over the top.” In this case, “functional” does not mean “cheap.” All the countertops are quartz sourced from Great Lakes, along with clouded glass 12” subway tile backsplash. All the appliances are Thermador; the built-in espresso maker is Meile. There is custom under cabinet and under bar floor lighting, and even lighting built into the lazy susan so you don’t have to find a flashlight to look at what’s inside. The kitchen and most of the main floor has rich, oiled maple wide plank flooring in a grayish hue. Very sharp.
Other qualities Scott and his wife, Gigi, really appreciate include the way you can be in almost any room in the home and look through the massive windows outside and see other parts of the home. “It’s not just some square box,” Scott said. The home was built to be interesting, very unique, and high quality, but not so unique that it’s weird or a challenge to sell eventually. While that was the plan, Gigi has fallen in love with the home, so selling anytime soon, he said, is unlikely. Scott’s favorite location in the home is the screened porch, through sliders off the main living room. It’s open to a wooded yard filled with wildlife, has a patio with a fireplace, and during summer months is filled with comfortable seating. He says it’s a great place to listen to music. The entire house actually has incredible acoustic qualities, but still his favorite is to relax on the porch with an adult beverage and good tunes.