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Peshastin home is a promise fulfilled, and filled with promise

By on January 25, 2021 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
The house needed to grow from two to three levels, twice its height in this view from the south, with daylight basement and garages behind it. The architect and owners are pleased that the composition and colors make it surprisingly easy on the eye.  

Story by Susan Lagsdin

Photos by Mike Irwin

Tom and Shannon Reichert, her toddler in tow, each moved their accumulated adult-life possessions from two large homes and squeezed into an air-force base basic, 1,074 square-foot ranch in Tucson. That was 18 years ago. 

“Someday,” Tom promised his new bride, “I’m going to build our house with a master suite that’s just as big as this whole place.”

And so he did.

Their new house idea grew and changed over the years. What never changed was knowing — from their very first years of dating — where they would build it.

Tom had driven his new girlfriend on a whirlwind tour of the Northwest, centered on his own hometown of Brewster. They crossed through the Methow Valley, touristed in Seattle, headed east over Stevens Pass and dropped into Leavenworth. 

Tom remembers Shannon saying then, “This place is so beautiful. I could live here forever.” Being the dutiful boyfriend, he committed that comment to memory.

Tom and Shannon Reichert (pictured with a restless Molly cat) are still discovering the many ways their new Peshastin home can be used and enjoyed. So far, family, pets, work and play all fit perfectly.

They knew exactly what they wanted: “a place with ‘understated elegance,’” said Tom. 

They bought their Peshastin  property in 2011 and had house plans drawn by Copeland Architects of Spokane (guided by a precise 12-page wants-needs proposal by the Reicherts) and then they bided their time, knowing that building the house would take their life savings and plenty of sweat equity. 

Shannon taught elementary school, Tom retired from the Air Force after 24 years of service and was piloting commercial airliners. 

Helped by occasional housing provided here by local high school buddies and with a lot of strategic planning and long-distance commuting, they initiated the complicated move from Utah to the Northwest. “We asked the architect to dust off the plans and create the builder set,“ said Tom. 

Excavation on the sloping 4.78-acre lot began in August 2018. A long burst of building was followed by 10 months of frustrating COVID-19 restrictions, but the neighbors remained neighborly, and friends and family, especially his brother in Idaho, volunteered copious hours of labor to help keep the project going. 

Southern light and a full wall of hand-placed decorative rock dominate the center of the house. The third level catwalk seen at top right visually divides the great room for both at-home coziness and full-house entertaining.

Tom said, “We received our Certificate of Occupancy on Dec. 4, 2020, about two and a half years after I brought the first tool on the place.”

His experience building a few past houses taught him forethought was foremost, so Tom worked as general contractor on this shared dream. 

Aided by the internet and the advice of local experts, he also did most of the interior finish work, including plumbing, lighting, flooring and trim by himself.

The house totals 9,450 square feet with three levels, two 3-bay garages (one at main level, one at basement level), and “27,000 square feet of drywall, 2,800 of hardwood flooring,” Tom calculates. 

Some construction decisions were relatively small. Extra storage is built into dormers; there’s a dog-washing station, wiring in each room to accommodate technology, extensive rockwork inside and out, a tricky perspective-bending staircase, a bedroom-deck hot tub.

But the most noteworthy choices are in the deep construction.

A filtration system increases air flow and controls humidity throughout. Geo-thermal energy, using a system of pipes extended into the earth, transfers the ground temperature into room temperature. It was costly to install, but Tom feels over time the environment-friendly HVAC system will save them 80 percent on power bills per month.

The lowest level and first floor exteriors walls are Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), 13-inches deep cast-in-place concrete walls sandwiched between two layers of dense foam and stacked with Lego-like connectors and rebar for stability. From Cornerstone Builders of Selah, they are fire-resistant and low-maintenance, Tom says, with an “astonishingly high” R factor. 

Tom’s long months of labor created the structure, but he insists that it’s Shannon’s good taste and eye for detail that’s made it into a home. 

She came into the marriage with a few U-Hauls of family antiques and some collected living in Germany, so the house is warmed by good wood and traditional designs in hutch, piano, beds, tables. Defying the popular penchant for grayed surroundings, she also chose a warm bisque color for all the walls. 

One space Shannon especially appreciates is her big view office, from which she’s teaching online classes for Wenatchee’s Washington Elementary School this year. 

She said, “It is so important for me to be able to look up from the computer straight into the Enchantments. I love this room!”

Just for fun, this college-themed hallway bath incorporates the family’s three alma maters, which are conveniently color-compatible: Texas A&M, University of Texas and Washington State University.

There’s a purpose and a plan for every one of the 20-plus rooms, but flexibility is a constant. The Reicherts’ own possessions, hobbies and interests are many, but another factor has gained even more importance: family.

A downstairs suite with a central media room and two guest bedrooms is intended for their son Nolan as he matures and maybe brings his own kids to visit. He most recently used the space, plus the kitchenette for snacks and sodas, to host college buddies over the holidays. “They had the run of the whole first level,” Tom said. “It was nice — and kind of crazy.” 

The Reicherts call this hopefully their “last house” (because their combined life list has 24 moves) but they know its function needn’t be static. 

The first-level configuration now meant for Nolan could serve other uses: full-time living for the couple, craft/music/exercise rooms, an auxiliary space for caregivers, even a rentable apartment.

2014 was a forward-thinking year in the life of the blueprints. One major adjustment occurred early enough that the switch was seamless. Tom’s parents’ health needs increased, and the couple naturally wanted to include them in the home’s future.

Though they were first meant for Tom and Shannon, the two rooms with a bath off the main floor great room were reconsidered and given ADA features as a convenient grand-master suite for the elders. His mom and dad will move in soon.

The solution to provide yet another suite of rooms for the owners was easy: go up, not out. 

First drawings showed an artistic staircase floating to a large, south-facing third floor bedroom, huge closet and bath (yes, 1,074 square feet) but they and the architects agreed “the exterior looked like a tugboat from a distance.”

To balance the bulk of the third-floor addition, they made a radical decision. Add a spacious shared office space on the north end, connecting the two with a long catwalk that would bisect a now double height, vaulted great room. 

Hmmm…. Three floors with elders and active mid-lifers in residence. How to solve the mobility issue? Easy. A small elevator. 

The potential lift from basement to main floor is already wired and ready to build into its dedicated space, and should the need arise it can extend to the top floor.

This home, big and beautiful and just about all moved into, holds a lot of promise for the Reicherts and their loved ones. 

Tom and Shannon are grateful to dozens of professional people who made the house, from architect to builder, suppliers and craftspeople to the county building department. 

But the biggest “thank you” is for a long-ago gift.

When he was young, his father gave him a hammer, one belonging to own father. Tom said, “I’ve been using that hammer for five decades. It drove the first nail on the project, and it drove the last nail. I’m going to have it framed, along with a page of blueprints, and present it to my dad when he and Mom move in.”

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