Spectacular Views in Muirfield: Former House Razed in Favor of Building New
An original home on the championship course is razed in favor of building new.
What started as a major remodel on a picture-perfect site evolved into one of the first entirely new homes to be built on the Muirfield Village Golf Course since its inception nearly 50 years ago.
The 4-year-old home takes full advantage of its location on the eighth tee, with views of the entire green from tee to hole. Floor-to-ceiling windows, sprawling outdoor living spaces and an upper deck provide sweeping views of the course. Tucked among trees at the end of a secluded road, the stone-and-stucco home resembles an English country estate and looks as though it’s always been there—the goal for both the homeowners and their architect, Richard Taylor.
Taylor had begun extensive discussions with owners Sam and Susan Smiley about remodeling the Muirfield home they’d purchased. It became clear that neither the site nor the home’s existing footprint would accommodate their needs, which included a first-floor owner’s suite and unobstructed views of the course.
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The house, built in the mid-1980s, was divided by walls and staircases, and “what should have been a spectacular view was no view at all,” Taylor says. “It wasn’t taking advantage of its location as well as it could have.” Furthermore, adding on to the structure to create a owner’s suite presented problems because of the way the house was sited.
Despite “fabulous renovation ideas” from Taylor, Susan says when contractor bids started coming, the couple realized the significant cost involved, particularly given the 30-year-old plumbing, electric and HVAC systems. When all was said and done, razing the existing structure and starting from the ground up made more sense. Corinthian Fine Homes built the 6,600-square-foot house, which has four bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms on three levels. The two-year construction project was completed in 2017.
“I had never dreamed of it,” homeowner Susan Smiley says of the project. “We’ve never built a house before.” She and her husband have been delighted with the way the residence suits them and meets both their collective and respective needs. That includes Sam’s cherry-paneled study with its ideal tee view and Susan’s large island kitchen and outdoor gardens.
The kitchen, adjacent great room, and outdoor living and entertainment areas all orient toward the course. Lush landscaping and terraced seating create intimacy and privacy while echoing the serene, yet energetically charged, nature of a professional golf course.
In fair weather, the focus is outside. A large porch with seating and dining areas steps directly off the great room and features floor-to-ceiling, remote-controlled screens that keep the elements and insects at bay while retaining an open-air feeling. Beyond the porch, a massive wood-burning stone fireplace forms the focal point for a curved conversation area nestled inside low stone walls that create a sense of seclusion. The outdoor kitchen with its grill, smoker, sink and refrigerator has the capacity to feed a crowd.
Susan credits designer Carolyn Rand for suggesting the red brick patio pavers that underlie the entire area and lend a sense of permanence. “I had wanted stone like in the front, and she said, ‘Susan, I think you have enough stone here,’” Carolyn says with a smile. “I really do like it. We wanted it to look like we’d been here [from the beginning].”
One of her favorite spaces is a small, secret garden on the side of the home, where she cultivates perennial hibiscus she starts from seeds taken from the mature plants grown on the opposite side. Some seeds become gifts to friends. Although the gardens contain enough plants to keep a professional landscaper busy, Susan maintains them herself because, “I like to garden and be outside.”
Inside, her husband’s second retreat is a natural stone Scotch room with circular seating and a wood-burning fireplace. It’s on the home’s lower level, which also contains a large fitness room and bathroom complete with a steam shower and sauna.
Another of Susan’s favorite things about the house is a coffee bar off the first floor bedroom that connects to the screened porch. Unlike the other rooms on this level, the owner’s suite is not oriented to the course but to the tree-lined side of the home. “It’s quieter here,” she explains. “People think golf is a quiet sport and it is, during the game. But it’s not quiet before, when everyone is out getting ready.”
The suite’s vanity area houses one of the lady of the home’s pet projects throughout the renovation—hiding the electrical outlets. Here, they are tucked behind drawers that hold hairdryers and other beauty essentials. In the kitchen, she has concealed them under the marble island countertop rather than on the side. She’s also a fan of placing outlets in baseboards and painting switch plates to match wall color.
The first-floor suite is a key component of the “aging-in-place” objective the Smileys sought. Hallways to the suite are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and levers replace knobs on some of the doors. Despite their planning, Susan says the couple is “thinking about” putting the house on the market after Sam retires from his dental practice.
The second floor has three bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom. The second-story hub is an open seating area with an ivory-and-gold Yamaha grand piano, which one of their adult daughters played in earlier years. The loft area overlooks the main level and directly out to the course.
Susan says she learned several lessons as a first-time home builder. “I would have relaxed more,” she says. “I was so involved. I’m glad the builder was patient with me.” She appreciates Taylor’s knowledge of both Dublin’s and Muirfield’s building regulations. (He’s a former member of the planning and zoning commission and a current member of Muirfield’s design control committee.) Equally, “the builder respected the rules instead of trying to circumvent that,” she says. “I’m very grateful for that.”
The architect, builder and designer all worked and lived in Dublin during the project, “which made it so much easier for me,” she adds. The couple’s neighbors “were unbelievably patient, understanding and supportive” during the two-year construction project, she says.
Taylor says he expects other Muirfield homeowners to go the same route the Smileys took in razing and rebuilding from scratch. The first Muirfield houses are approaching the 50-year mark and many have not undergone any updates. Also, he notes, a major expansion and renovation of the Muirfield Village Clubhouse in 2013 raised the value of all the properties around it, and “it made the lots more valuable than the houses in some cases.”
Taylor says he had a lot of fun guiding the Smileys’ home from drafting table to completion. “It’s always such a great feeling to see something on paper appear in three dimensions,” says the architect. “I think it’s a very handsome home, and I’m pleased with how well it fit the site. When I can tell the homeowner loves the house, that’s when it’s really meaningful to me.”
This story is from the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of Home & Garden.