2,550 finished sq. ft.; 1,200 unfinished sq. ft.: 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Lot size: 1.16 acre
Wilderness Ranch is about 24 miles east of Boise in the hills above Hwy. 21. It felt like we were on top of the world when we arrived at the round, yurt-like house at 226 Evergreen Dr. And as a matter of fact, we were at 3,800 feet above sea level. The 360-degree views showcase the many hills, forested mountains, and the tiny thread of Hwy. 21 winding far below.
As I approached the house, I realized the walls are made of concrete and wood, using a system I learned is called cord wood masonry. It's an old technique whereby walls are constructed of short logs (log ends) laid up width wise in the wall within a special mortar matrix. In this case, the owner/builder also added many glass bottles laid end to end. The house has a conical metal roof and is surrounded by Trex decking, made of reclaimed wood and plastic and should last a long time.
Entering the vaulted great room, I immediately saw the incredible views out of the many triple-pane windows with mini blind insets (no dusting!). High on the walls, wide horizontal windows add even more light. Next I noticed the main support column, which is a concrete culvert pipe covered in manufactured stone rising up to the steel cross beam and continuing up to what looked like steel spokes at the roof. In the great room, the floors and kitchen cabinets are blue pine. The wood stove backing against the center column stands on ceramic tile floor with inlays. Naturally, there is a ceiling fan. The kitchen and island countertops are slab granite, and there is a pantry, a smooth top stove and roll-out drawers.
Also on the main floor is a bathroom with shower and lovely blue slate tile with ceramic trim. The colored glass bottles set into the outer wall in the spare bedroom were glowing from the western light when I peeked in. The master bedroom is quite large with two walk-in closets, several windows and sliders to a side porch. There is a big master bath with a large shower, and space and plumbing for a tub.
An open stairway from the entry leads to a large carpeted loft providing space for an office, den, bedroom or whatever. Also off the entry is a carpeted stairway to the daylight basement, which includes a large family room and bright rec room with sliders to the outside, a bathroom with a tub, a utility room with a deep sink and two bedrooms. Only the largest bedroom with two closets is finished on this level, although the bathroom, the utility room and the pellet stove are functional. There is wiring for a hot tub just outside the rec room.
Up in the great room again, I stepped through the sliders onto the deck. What a fantastic place to sit, watch the views, the sunsets and listen to the silence and sounds of the country!
PROS: The great room is very attractive and elegant. The exterior walls are whimsical, solid and energy efficient. The great room is oriented southwest for passive solar gain, and there are 25 feet of recycled cellulose insulation in the roof. I wonder if it would be cost effective to mount solar panels on the roof to generate some of the electricity for this all-electric house. Some of the logs have been allowed to stick into the rooms to create shelves, and some found deer antlers create hooks. The house is wired for cable, phone and surround-sound. There are all kinds of wildlife in Wilderness Ranch.
CONS: It takes about 40 minutes to drive out to Wilderness Ranch. There are some unfinished rooms in the basement though it wouldn't be hard to complete them. There is no garage and I would want to add one. The landscaping is native brush. My preference would be to add some native trees, bushes and flowers.