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Deck the Halls
A holiday-ready Jefferson home boasts playful features and rustic charm


December 2016

Photography by DOUG EDMUNDS

After almost a decade, homeowners Ed Fischer and Julie Mokhtar still revel in their expansive home, tucked amid trees and set atop a ridge, overlooking 60 acres in Jefferson. The impressive, rustic setting fits a sensibility for each — fun nuances for him, and a spectacular Christmas canvas for her.

“I worked with a college friend of mine, Bill Groskopf, who owns Groskopf Construction, to find this great property,” Fischer says. “We started with 57 acres, and we now have 60.”

Although Mokhtar says she was initially unsure of the project, she’s more than pleased with the final results. “My husband had a vision, and it turned out very well,” she notes. “It’s hard to determine any one favorite part of the house because there is so much to like.”

Views to the second floor offer a closer look at the home’s timber frame construction, which complements the homeowner’s penchant for festive holiday décor.
Photography by DOUG EDMUNDS

The couple says the 7,500-square-foot home, with six bedrooms and six bathrooms, offers an array of likable features, largely thanks to the collaborating vision of two pros — architect Matt Heaton of MBH Architects in Delafield and Waukesha-based interior designer Bill Koehnlein of Collaborative Design.

Heaton gave Fischer his desired log cabin look, but without the headaches of log maintenance, using a timber frame construction and emphasizing posts and trusses. The result is what Heaton refers to as lodge-like sophistication — with a polished, crisper look. He says the key to the home is a balance between the upscale rustic feel and a great view (the home sits on a ridge at the high point of the property).

“The owners really enjoy being in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming,” Heaton says, “so they wanted that type of environment.”

While the great room expands upward 31 feet through open trusses in the open-concept centerpiece, whimsical touches further personalize the home. “My clients have a playful side,” Koehnlein says, referring to a fireman’s pole that connects the master bedroom with the garage below. A moving bookcase provides access to a secret passageway, linking two rooms, and a ladder connects to a rooftop getaway.

“My clients like to move furniture around to create different groupings, depending on the season and their entertaining needs,” Koehnlein explains. “They also wanted it to look like the furnishings were collected over the years rather than all at once from a store.” The great room’s furnishings exemplify this approach, with items selected to withstand time and age gracefully. Animal hides, including leather, chenille, corduroy and hand-knotted rugs, are some of the textures and finishes expertly mixed to create the desired collectible effect.

The unique style extends to other rooms. Koehnlein points to the alder-millwork kitchen and its blown-glass pendant lighting (which remind him of “big ice cubes”), the nautilus walk-in shower in the master bath, the elevator connecting floors, and the home’s exterior façade mix of stone and cedar as examples.

Beyond playfulness, uniqueness and homage to a sophisticated Western lifestyle, this Jefferson gem plays best at Christmas. Its architect says construction had ornamentation in mind. “There are brackets placed off the timber and stone all the way up,” Heaton says. “They are attachment points for ornaments and lights. It works well for someone who wants to decorate for the holidays.”

Mokhtar agrees, because although the home may be her husband’s vision, decking the halls is her bailiwick. She orchestrates the decorating, including sprinkling plenty of lights on outdoor trees and adorning a spectacularly tall tree in the great room.

“I have a different theme every year,” she adds, referring to mixing various combinations of green, red, silver and gold. “The house is perfect for all of that.”


This story ran in the December 2016 issue of: