Sometimes it takes a series of ordinary events to make an extraordinary change in one’s life path. Certainly, that seems to have been the case for Andria Friesen, owner of Friesen Gallery in Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho, and her then fiancé Robert DeGennaro, Co-founder, President/COO of PremiumMedia360, upon meeting Tom Kundig at a private celebration held in the Art Stable penthouse, an Olson Kundig project in Seattle, celebrating all who had worked on the project that provided work and studio space for people with significant art collections.

At the time, Friesen and DeGennaro were living in a lovely home in Ketchum and had never, ever discussed building a new home, but the conversation with Kundig set off such a shockwave that DeGennaro proposed to Friesen that they build an elegant Kundig home with edge.

Friesen delights in recounting Kundig’s astonished reply: “Let me get this straight. You want me to design a home for you with plenty of walls for your art and plenty of windows for your view. Then, she adds, “he gave us a big smile and said, ‘I’m up to the task!’”

The couple decided to purchase a prime lot on a favorite golf course located between Bald and Dollar Mountains with a rather nondescript 1,500 sq.ft. 1973 rambler. “Sometimes,” says Kundig, who visited the site before the home was razed, “an existing building can be informative. This particular house, however, didn’t engage with the property effectively at all, so, perhaps it told us what we shouldn’t do.”

Just as the Friesen Gallery offers virtual installations of proposed artwork in clients’ homes, so, too, does Olson Kundig’s full-service team provide advanced techniques as it works from concept through tech and construction phases which, in this case, must meet the demands of building amidst the extreme temperature variances found in a high desert climate. High praise, say the couple, go to the Kundig team, for interfacing so seamlessly with siblings Suzie and David Lucas of Seattle’s Lucas Interior, Ben Young Landscape Architect and Elias Construction, both of Ketchum.

Kundig, in turn, found working with the couple extraordinarily engaging. “They are so skilled and sophisticated in the world of art and genetically understand the fantastic views of nearby and distant landscapes, that they understood how to balance those priorities.”

“With floor-to-ceiling Fleetwood windows,” says Kundig of the company with which he has a tight, long-term relationship, “the garden and/or landscape become your wallpaper, which changes in the high desert with every season, thus becoming an important part of the experience.”

The major challenge in addressing all of these “drivers” for Kundig was coming up with a floor plan – a two-part classic “T” formation” — that embraced the issues of living on a golf course with the need for privacy versus the open, gregariousness of entertaining amidst the couple’s large scale artworks displayed throughout. “It’s not a big house,” explains Friesen, “because we wanted to live in every single room every day, and we do!”

New York born siblings Suzie and David Lucas of Lucas Interior, who had each collaborated with Olson Kundig while working for a top interior design firm prior to forming their own Seattle company, were recommended to Friesen and DeGennaro by a client for whom they had just completed a remodel. “We came on board,” recalls David, the Lucas Interior Creative Director, “as the envelope was being closed up.”

In the kitchen, Lucas collaborated with Kundig’s team to modify a few elements found in the initial design, some of which hailed back to the structural steel found in Kundig’s architecture. “After making the face of the upper cabinets flush with the refrigerator doors to the side for a monolithic clean design,” says David, “we raised the work area, making room for a piece of art and wall-mounted open shelves. A small metal detail was added around the opening on both sides of the counter, as well as trim metal running up the side back to the stone.”

Other changes occurred organically recalls Friesen when the master bedroom, originally, presumed to be located upstairs along with one of their two offices was ensconced instead downstairs to its own wing of the “T” shaped architecture. “You have an instinct to put it on the upper floor,” says Kundig, “which is the natural direction, but we came around to placing it on the main floor with an elegant, graceful flow between the living area and master suite, which has now become a special place – a little glass jewel — a type of garden pavilion from which to embrace all four seasons – which is why,” he adds, “you live in Sun Valley!”

“We are over the moon, thrilled!” says Friesen. “Our bedroom is absolute perfection, and now with our offices located upstairs, we both have spectacular, energizing views from our respective desks.” Suzie Lucas sought to add warmth through color in the master by adding a lush Driscoll Robbins coral and burgundy carpet that plays off the Julie Heffernan artwork doubling as a magnificent headboard.

True to the calling of the Friesen/DeGennaro home is the dedication of an entire wall to the installation of each page from Friesen’s book, “Speak For The Trees,” a compendium of 76 works of arts and over 70 authors throughout history writing about topics ranging from art to science to spirituality, environment and philosophy coalescing as one heavenly whole. All of which came to her as she gazed at a bumper sticker while waiting at a Ketchum stop light!

While Suzie Lucas suggested the wall on which Friesen could display her book, she also enjoyed working with Friesen to cull colors for some of the unseen “funkier stuff,” like the yellow lacquered cabinetry in the laundry room, which serendipitously turned out to be named: “Sun Valley Yellow.”

One of the most important elements behind the project’s success say Friesen and DeGennaro was their dedication to being on the job site daily. “It was our choice out of the joy and excitement of being a part of the project,” says Friesen.

“During the building process,” says DeGennaro, “there were so many things that had to be worked out, which was fascinating to me—such as how they could create a roof system with enough flex to keep the glass from breaking when the roof is heavy with snow.” The installation of the Fleetwood “Curtain Wall,” which at a glance appears as if there is “floor-to-ceiling” glass on each level, was the answer. In fact, the glass is a single curtain spanning from the ground to the roof. The ceiling of lower and floor of upper do not actually touch the glass; they float approximately 1/4" away from it. “Tricky elements like this were all resolved once a week with a standard call,” says DeGennaro. “That was the beauty of the overall team, the desire to work together to put a square peg in a round hole.”

“There hasn’t been one day,” says Friesen, “since we moved in here that Robert or I or both have not expressed our gratitude for being able to live here. The collective team of Kundig, Lucas Interior, BYLA, and Elias Construction brought their ‘A Game’ and we’re left with the luxury of the results, daily.”


Elias Construction

Olson Kundig

Lucas Interior

Fleetwood Windows & Doors

Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler, Graff, Toto, Mr. Steam; Patio Furniture: Terris Draheim: Brown Jordan