Rustic + Modern Design

A Vision for a Peaceful Oasis Becomes Reality

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Natalie Stephenson

Originally published in Bend Lifestyle

When Kenneth Sunzeri founded Deschutes Custom Homes (DCH) in Bend two years ago, he already had a lot of experience under his tool belt. “My forte is high-end custom home building,” he says. “For the past 17 years, I've been building 6000 to 10,000 square foot houses on the [San Francisco Bay] peninsula.”

When he moved to Bend, he found there was a big need in the luxury market, so he and his partner, John Knauss, combined forces. While Sunzeri focused on new builds, Knauss handled large residential remodels.

“We bring fresh ideas to the table, and we try to stay boutique in the sense that we only do two to three houses at a time,” Sunzeri notes.

One home DCH recently completed in Tumalo incorporates a great number of unique details. Architect​ Jeffrey Warwick of Open Road Design worked with Sunzeri to create the perfect oasis for the homeowners.

“That was a really fun process,” Warwick says. “How Ken could visualize ideas as I was coming up with them was really great. Even outside of the design process, as things were going up, I would visit the house with him and as we were sitting there talking, he would come up with more really cool design ideas.”

Adds Sunzeri, “Jeff was willing to work with us and kind of push the boundaries on the vision that we had with the client. Our goal was to create a home that combined the rustic feel of a retreat in the woods, juxtaposed with bold modern touches. We also wanted the interior to be mostly natural wood elements, specifically white oak.” 

The main focus of the home was the great room. “Beginning with floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, it really opens up the interior and gives the impression you are outdoors,” Sunzeri explains. “Additionally, the room boasts stained cedar walls and a vaulted ceiling, and a 20-foot-tall natural stone fireplace. Finally, the furniture was selected to fit perfectly with the construction, and gives you a feel that you are in a lodge in Jackson Hole or somewhere similar.”

The furniture was chosen by interior designer, Julanda Shannon. “Julanda has a very unique style,” notes Sunzeri. “She’s from Berlin, Germany, so she has this big city edgy style that she's able to mold into a Pacific Northwest landscape. Instead of the same modern cabin style interiors, hers really stands out as unique.”

In addition to the interior of the home, much thought and creativity went into the outside area as well. Tim Schmidt with Land Effects can take credit for the lovely surroundings.

“He's a landscape designer and has a company that installs the landscape as well,” Sunzeri notes. “Having worked with him in the past, I've seen his creativity, abilities and palette and trusted him a hundred percent. We pretty much gave him full rein to do what he wanted. Basically, here's the budget — make it beautiful — and he really came through.”

The landscaping includes natural boulders and native stones, which Sunzeri says helped make the home feel like it belonged in the space organically. There’s also a stone staircase leading up to the entry of the home.

“It's just elegant and creates this very organic feel,” notes Sunzeri. “There's also an area that has a little therapy nook with a spa, sauna, and a cold plunge. There's an outdoor fire pit and barbecue area too.”

“It's a really cool look and I think it turned out amazing,” adds Warwick. “When I was standing there looking at the finished product, the memory of when I decided to be an architect was in that moment. The relationship I’ve had with the builder and the owner and being able to stand in the completed house is just an incredible feeling.”

The homeowners were also ecstatic about the finished product. “It was everything they imagined,” states Sunzeri.

The team at Deschutes Custom Homes is comprised of skilled home builders from Bend, Seattle and the Bay Area. “We see a need in the market and hope to bring our experience building extremely custom and challenging projects to Central Oregon with the hopes of being the future of Central Oregon luxury living.” 


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