Modern Man Cave

Architect Jessica Larsen designed this fun and functional kitchen around the Electric Brewery system. Marble countertop by Mountain Marble. Backsplash by Crossville Tile. Custom cabinetry by Joseph Prendergast. Photography by Jennifer Coates.
Architect Jessica Larsen designed this fun and functional kitchen around the Electric Brewery system. Marble countertop by Mountain Marble. Backsplash by Crossville Tile. Custom cabinetry by Joseph Prendergast. Photography by Jennifer Coates.

When Jim and Barbara Hoski completed their home on Reynolds Mountain in 2004, they were among the first residents in this prestigious mountain community. “We used to hike up here,” notes Barbara, pointing out through her expansive great-room windows, “and before it was even cleared, I said to Jim, ‘That’s it. That’s downtown Asheville.’”

Not surprisingly, most of the common rooms and outdoor areas are designed around this breathtaking view of the city, which spans from the Grove Park Inn to as far south as the smokestack tower on Lake Julian.

The home, designed by Barbara with the help of their contractor, is traditional in many respects, but with surprising contemporary details inside — flat-panel kitchen cabinets, custom abstract wainscoting in the dining room, and contemporary furnishings throughout. She says, “There weren’t as many builders and architects doing modern at that time, so I did it myself.” Traditional crown moldings, paneled doors, and a jewel-toned color scheme allow her to not be confined to a particular look.

Their recent basement renovation, however, is another story.

Architect Jessica Larsen, of C.JEM Design and Development, describes it as “eclectic modern.” With polished concrete floors, a matte black subway-tile backsplash, stainless-steel ceiling and a breathtaking granite-island countertop, the custom brewery kitchen, owner-dubbed “chill-out area,” and exercise space are slick enough to befit a commercial space, yet with plenty of the personal touches that make it a home.

Though the existing partially finished basement had worked well for the family as a TV den, hobby space, and storage area, Barbara says: “Jim has many hobbies, and I wanted my kitchen back.”

A spine surgeon, he is a work-hard-play-hard kind of guy. Brewing beer, baking bread, making charcuterie, canning, preserving, gardening and exercising are chief among his leisurely passions. A broad, polished concrete hallway leads to the new space; a custom sliding barn door marks the entrance.

Jim, who’s been a home brewer for eight years, started as most do, with malt extracts on the couple’s kitchen stove. When he switched to all-grain techniques, he explains, “it required me to boil the liquid outside due to the volume and the BTUs needed. It just isn’t possible to boil that much liquid [or achieve the proper heat] on a home stove.” Since commercial stoves aren’t allowed in residences and year-round outdoor brewing proved challenging, Jim sought other options, and that’s when he discovered the Electric Brewery system. Initially, he was just going to install the electrical, plumbing, and exhaust hood that the system required, but, he says, “thankfully, my wife suggested that we go ahead and finish the basement.”

The contemporary solid-wood bar and lumber-wrapped soffit brings warmth to the space, but polished concrete floors give a stylish industrial feel.

Larsen says her biggest challenge in designing the multi-functional L-shaped area was to “divvy up the spaces while retaining an open feel.” By designing the kitchen around the brewery system, she was able to allow for both workflow and storage needs. A clever nook hides the refrigerator, while a freestanding keg cooler and adjacent glass-walled storage cabinet makes entertaining seamless. She ensured ease of cleaning and sanitation by using a variety of hard surfaces including concrete, granite, wood, stainless steel, and tile. A wood-wrapped soffit brings warmth to the space, while the stunning leathered “Inferno” granite countertop steals the show.

There’s bar seating at the island and overflow seating (including a sleeper sofa for overnight guests) in the chill-out area just off the kitchen — what some architects and interior designers are trendily calling the “keeping room.”
The workout area and bathroom that complete the space both feature custom elements made by their son, David, a welder: a pull-up bar for the exercise space and accessories for the bathroom. A second custom barn door was installed between the bathroom and exercise room. Muted blue-gray paint adorns the gypsum walls and helps tie everything together, while carefully placed floor coverings help differentiate the distinct niches.

The Hoskis use their new space almost daily. Whether they’re working up a sweat via exercise, brewing, preserving or canning veggies from their home garden, or baking bread, it’s become a vital part of their home life. Barbara says she’s thankful to have “her” kitchen back upstairs. And though she claims she’s forbidden her husband from taking on any new hobbies, it’s clear she enjoys the space herself (not to mention always having access to whatever’s on tap).

As for Jim, his favorite part of the project is, “of course,” the brewery kitchen, he says, adding, “We also use the area for casual entertaining, as a second kitchen during holiday cooking, and as a spare bedroom for guests — although it can be difficult to get them to leave!”

It’s easy to see why. With the home brew flowing, sauerkraut fermenting in the fridge, and room to exercise, sleep, and shower, this mountaintop man cave has more than its share of creature comforts.

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