Rustic Splendor in Baraboo

Natural elements and repurposed goods come together in a couple’s timber frame home

A bird’s-eye view of the great room can be enjoyed from the catwalk above. See more photos of the home below.

A bird’s-eye view of the great room can be enjoyed from the catwalk above. See more photos of the home below.

PHOTO BY BETH SKOGEN

For thirty years, Tom and Sue Holmes have helped clients build dream homes. Their company, Glenville Timberwrights, is known for timber frame structures and handcrafted details—making finished buildings more like pieces of art. Situated on a wooded lot outside of Baraboo, the Holmeses’ own house is no exception. 

With American roots dating back to early settlers, timber frame structures incorporate heavy woods that are joined together with trunnels, or tree nails, shaped from the trees themselves. The Holmeses chose to frame their 3,200-square-foot home with Douglas fir timbers reclaimed from an 1880s warehouse in Oshkosh.

“This whole frame was built using no metal fasteners. That’s the unique part. There are no nails,” says Tom. “It’s that age-old building technique.”

The unique framing makes for a gorgeous interior as well. With exposed beams and a towering ceiling, the home’s sweeping layout creates a warm retreat. A deep entryway leads to the great room, where a brick-faced wall juts up twenty-seven feet, holding a set of windows in place at treetop level. A catwalk-style loft runs across the room, offering a perch with an impressive view.

“Of course, the kids stand up here and shoot airplanes and balloons through the truss,” laughs Sue. “It’s very kid-friendly.”

The Holmeses were passionate about featuring energy-efficient and rescued pieces in their design, and as a result, historic relics from across the Midwest have found a second life here. From ceilings made with Wisconsin barn silos to a pool deck crafted from a wooden water tower salvaged in Chicago, creative repurposing abounds.

“When you’re hooked up with some salvage companies, you can really get some cool things,” says Sue.

Other eco-conscious aspects include radiant in-floor heating, a wood-burning stove and structurally insulated panels.

Sue wanted space to accommodate large groups, which gather at the house for everything from family celebrations to political fundraisers. During the summer months, adventurous overnight visitors can even test out the sleeping porch, built just off the master bedroom.

“We’ve had eighty people in this house and it flows beautifully. I like the fact that you can have a big party in it,” says Sue.

The timber framed home has also proven to be an effective showroom and the perfect space for hosting timber-framing seminars. The Holmeses often bring potential clients inside to show different structural and design options.

“It gets a lot of use,” says Tom.

“We don’t baby this place,” adds Sue.

Nestled on the edge of Devil’s Lake property, the Holmeses’ grounds also feature an original barn and a large garden that they have embraced as a substantial source of food.

“It’s a very livable house, a very comfortable house,” says Tom. “It’s very lovable.”

Hannah Kiddoo is a writer, editor and former Madison Magazine intern.

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