One-of-a-Kind Spaces

Special spaces only a custom builder can create


The great room in a custom home by Santa Fe Development
Corporation features a majestic 30-foot window wall.

When a client a few years ago asked Bill Flickinger’s Santa Fe Development Corporation to build his family a home on a wooded lot in Great Falls, Virginia, the request came with a few special provisions. There were several rooms that had to be part of the plan, including a climate-controlled wine cellar, an exercise room and a great room that offered an expansive view of the beautiful trees behind the house.

“Those are the kinds of requests we are more than happy to accommodate,” says Flickinger. “That’s what makes custom building exciting—providing a home that uniquely suits the needs of your client.” Flickinger accommodated the requests in style. The great room, which serves as the center point of the home, looks out over the woods thanks to a majestic 30-foot window wall that pours light into the first and second stories. The owners, who moved to the home from Colorado, have the constant connection to the outdoors that they craved. On the lower level, the exercise room is fitted with a television, so working out doesn’t have to be boring. Just down the hall, wood-trimmed double glass doors open to a climate-controlled wine cellar capable of storing hundreds of bottles on stylish wooden racks. There’s even a peninsula counter handy for opening and decanting wines.

This is the essence of what you get when you hire a custom builder. On a basic level, a home is a collection of rooms. But the rooms themselves don’t have to be basic at all. A custom builder can give you special rooms specifically created for your family’s particular needs. Here are a few commonly requested (and not so common) specialty rooms local custom builders can create for their clients.

Custom Spaces for Artists and Collectors
If art is your passion, a custom home can include a place to create it—perhaps a light-filled studio or a kiln room—or a place to view it, such as an in-home gallery space with proper lighting and temperature controls. Studio space can be found everywhere from an intimate upper level loft to a fully equipped flex space on the second floor of a detached garage. Display space can be anything from a design that includes custom built-in shelving and wall niches to a dedicated gallery room with plenty of wall space and appropriate lighting. Many buyers even arrange a room’s design around a favorite piece of art, asking their builder to incorporate sufficient wall space or a display area for a particular object.

The Over-The-Top Master Bath
It’s true that the master bath suites often found in high-end production homes are pretty impressive, but if you want to go to the next level, only a custom home will do. The possibilities include a six-foot-long shower with plenty of room for two, including five or six shower heads, integrated seating and a steam shower setting that lets the space do double duty as a steam room. Connected to many custom master bath suites you’ll find a large dressing area with ample storage space in cherry or walnut cabinetry and plenty of lights and mirrors.

The Garage for Car Buffs
If your hobby is restoring old cars, a custom builder can give you a professional-style garage with ample work and storage space and room for as many vehicles as you have in the your collection. In fact, the “Super Garage” has proven so popular with custom-home buyers that production builders are taking notice. More than 30 percent of all builders surveyed at the 2006 International Builders’ Show said they planned to offer Super Garages in 2006. One local example is Brookfield Homes’ Bentley model at Lansdowne on the Potomac, where the garage includes easy-clean flooring, track lighting, Internet access, a television, a refrigerator/freezer and a set of workspace organizers that increase storage space and allow for the addition of things like a recycling center or a multi-purpose workshop. A custom builder can take the concept even further, outfitting a professional-grade garage for families with motor oil in their veins.

An In-Home Business Center
Home offices are becoming more and more common, but a homeowner who runs a business, or one who sometimes works from home, may need more. A custom builder can create an in-home conference room complete with multi-media presentation capability, the latest in teleconferencing equipment and an appropriate office-like atmosphere for in-home meetings or consultations with clients.

The Safe Room
The Washington, DC, area is home base for many individuals with sensitive government or industry positions who have chosen to build a safe room into their custom home. Try to get any details from a builder however, and you’ll find it’s not the kind of thing they are willing to talk about. In fact, they often sign confidentiality agreements before building such a room, in order to keep the means and level of security.