A quiet, lakeside community with the personality of a progressive estate.
Tucked behind a beautiful brick wall and lush landscaping, a neat little neighborhood is cropping up. It’s called Preston Park, and it’s getting a lot of attention lately. No, it doesn’t have million dollar homes or a revolutionary retail space. It’s just a quiet street off Choto Road with what will be a total of 21 homes.
What makes Preston Park so unique has to do with the details. Unlike other neighborhoods where the only way to distinguish your house from the neighbors’ is by the cars parked in the driveway, Preston Park has nothing but all-original floor plans. These Mountain Craftsman Style homes were specially designed by local architect Jonathan Miller. The floorplans vary between 3000-3500 square feet, almost all of them have a master on the main level, and they were each designed to be truly “liveable” homes. Of course, the handful of lake access lots and plans for a neighborhood walking trail, pier and gazebo overlooking Ft. Loudon Lake are also making a big splash with potential homeowners.
Let’s be honest, when you are looking at new homes, it’s easy to let the heart take over. Most of us don’t think about a garage door being too short for a SUV or being able to hear every word your mother-in-law says about you in the next room—or worse yet, vice versa. And you probably won’t even consider how you’ll manage to get sheets of plywood up in the attic so you can use it for storage. These are all things typically discovered after closing.
The good news is that Joseph A. Houck, the builder behind Preston Park, has already thought of all of these things, and just about everything else. And he knows that most of these details are subtle. He knows that most people don’t stop to think about all that is right with a house, but one wrong thing, well, that leaves a lasting impression.
“From the crawl space to the attic, I want to make sure everything is finished.”
“From the crawl space to the attic, I want to make sure everything is finished,” Joe explains as he stands sock-footed in the kitchen of a recently finished Preston Park home. Even the garages have painted floors, wall organization systems and pristine baseboards—and the best part is that with the maintenance-free lawns, it won’t become cluttered with lawn tools and equipment.
Standing there, talking to Joe, it is easy to forget that this house isn’t his actual home. But maybe that’s because he builds every home as if were he were going to live there. He came to Knoxville over eight years ago, and with his experiences of remodeling offices and Victorian homes while growing up in Ohio, he began working for John Testerman. To this day, he considers his time learning from Testerman to be priceless.
“I put a lot into the front end of the home,” says Joe. “We really go above and beyond with the foundation and framing.” The framer he uses has framed countless Cracker Barrels and other commercial buildings all over the country and knows how to make a structure solid. “You won’t feel the floor shake when people are walking through the house, and you also won’t have to worry about the structure 10 years or more down the road.”
It’s true, you won’t see special floor joists or the blown-in insulation between your walls, but you probably will appreciate a peaceful, quiet, energy-efficient home. Joe uses a recirculating water line so you won’t have to wait for hot water, no matter how far away you are from the water heater. The gas hot water heaters he uses are very efficient with little recovery time. He also uses gas heat on the lower levels and electric heat pumps upstairs—all of these are from Vasey HVAC. This is more energy efficient and will result in lower utility bills, which is increasingly important to everyone.
He also chose energy efficient, lo-E windows by Pella Windows. “They block out most UV rays, which can also be a lifesaver for your furniture,” he adds. “On the exterior, they are made from aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about rot or peeling paint.” Of course, this is all very nice, but what stands out the most about these windows are the beautiful wood on the interior.
Joe used a siding material with a 50 year warranty from James Hardie Company. “They worked with us on the installation, it is a great product that really reduces the need for painting,” says Joe. And for beautiful, lasting driveways and sidewalks, he chose pavers from Hardscapes. Yet another little detail that sets Preston Park apart.
“Joe is successful because of his hard work and excellent finished product, … He is honest and fair, and delivers a well-built home in a timely fashion.”
While Joe obviously knows a thing or two about building materials, he also knows how to make a house feel more like a home: call Molly Bland-Watts of Molly Bland Interiors. “I really put a lot of faith and trust in Molly. She makes choices that appeal to the general public, but without ever being boring. She knows how to be different without being extreme.”
The respect is mutual. “Joe is successful because of his hard work and excellent finished product,” says Molly. “He is honest and fair, and delivers a well-built home in a timely fashion.”
Walking through the furnished Preston Park home just before the Parade of Homes, it becomes obvious that Joe, Molly, and the architect, Jonathon, make a great team.
The architectural details set the tone—inside and out—as a modern, Appalachian inspired twist on the craftsman style. “Jonathon really brings a unique style and look to his homes,” says Joe. “He is every open and easy to work with.”
Vernacular such as simple dormers and large wooden beams speak to the Craftsman period. The rich, earthy colored exteriors with inviting, rich wooden doors have a truly handcrafted feel.
“It was important to me to carry the American craftsman theme indoors, but not to eliminate potential buyers with more traditional taste,” says Molly. “A soft, warm color palette in the khaki family was chosen throughout both floors of the house.”
In the foyer, the simplicity of the décor sets the tone for the easy to love and live in home. Molly chose handmade soumak rugs in tones of chocolate brown for the foyer and study. Opposite of the study is a formal dining room, complete with craftsman style wainscoting.
Tucked under the iron-banister staircase, a surprisingly large powder room with handpainted mural work by Robin Surber continues the earthy color palette.
The kitchen is open to a breakfast nook as well as a large living space with a stone fireplace to create a truly liveable area. The dark wooden mouldings and trim tie the spaces together. Coordinating large, detailed cabinets, granite countertops, and island with a bar, all from Dixie Kitchens, make it an inviting, workable space. With an on-site shop for customization and designers that are committed to creating a space that looks and feels “right”, Dixie Kitchens creates a unique style to fit every client. Joe worked with Juda Brown at Ferguson for all of the stainless steel Kitchen Aid appliances as well as the Delta fixtures throughout the home. Molly chose a slate tile backsplash in the autumn color palette of brown, persimmon, grey green and gold.
“Soft washed chenille fabrics along with leathers were selected for the furnishings complementing the casual living concept,” adds Molly. “The art displayed in the house ranges from arts and craft prints, original oil paintings and pottery pieces along with antique artifacts.”
“As a family builder, it is really gratifying to know that you have provided someone with a great, liveable house, … And that they have put their faith and confidence in me. There really is a strong bond and level of trust that you develop with the homeowners.”
The laundry room and master bedroom are also on the main level. The master bath boasts a large, tiled shower and a luxurious Whirlpool tub and a fabulous, room-sized closet immediately off the bath. Joe used 84 Lumber for all of his building supplies, including the lumber for the extensive closet shelving.
On the main floor, the ceilings are 10 feet with 8 foot interior doors—a far cry from the standard 6’8” doors that most of us are accustomed to seeing. Two piece mouldings and door casings 4 1/2 inches wide are all proof that nothing is standard in these homes.
Joe also worked with Bill Reed at FTG Home Theatre Systems for wiring throughout the home. Every phone jack is prewired with two lines, which enables the homeowner to use just about anything. They also installed a stereo system in four rooms, prewired another room for surround sound, and installed a security system. They truly have thought of just about everything.
“This is really a house that anyone can enjoy—from a retired couple to a young working family. As a builder, it is really gratifying to know that you have provided someone with a great, liveable house,” says Joe. “And that they have put their faith and confidence in me. There really is a strong bond and level of trust that you develop with the homeowners.”