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A Timeless Treasure
Contemporary home boasts its own uniqueness

By Donna Pinsoneault


The view from the second floor walkway of the Marriott’s Bristlecone Pine home is a spectacular one. Jim and Susan
Marriott built their home with entertaining in mind.
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It may be true that there is no place like home, but Oz’s young Dorothy would have had to click those ruby slippers many more times to drop into a domicile like this one. Designed in 1997 by Waukesha commercial builder Jim Marriott in collaboration with architect Bruce Jackson, it seems safe to say that there is no place like this home. The vision for this unusual two-story residence tumbled around in Marriott’s imagination throughout his youth until it landed safely on a lovely country club lot in Hartland.

“The house is from the heart and soul of him and has been in his brain since he was 19,” says Susan Marriott, Jim’s wife. “His mother has drawings he did as a young man that have some of the same lines.”

With four bedrooms and four and a half baths, the Marriott house hardly came about through wizardry. Instead, hard-work and precise attention to detail resulted in the two-story gray brick masterpiece. Interiors are executed appropriately in themes of black and white; yet, like those early unsuspecting film-goers, guests are surprised with delightful colorbursts everywhere. Instead of a yellow brick road, they can just follow the jewel-colored swirls in the all-white carpet to discover the home’s many visual treasures.

Jim distinguishes between what many people envision as “contemporary” and the classic modern design of his home.

“People may think of contemporary as what’s most current, what’s here today, but might not be here tomorrow,” Susan said. “This home is timeless.”

The home’s timeless appeal begins at its stainless steel front door where you’re likely to be greeted enthusiastically by Hayley, the couple’s playful black Labrador. You will want to stand still for a minute in the dramatic foyer and take in the wide view of the great room that is really several rooms without walls. On either side, living trees bask in the natural exposure provided by the wall of windows behind you. Just ahead, an inviting sunken conversation area is furnished with custom designed seating curved to take full advantage of the oversized woodburning fireplace, one of the triad of fireplaces that combine to be the home’s center.

“At first, people think this is one fireplace that is open on three sides,” Susan said. “Actually it is three separate fireplaces. This one is a true woodburner. The other two are gas.”

The tiered brick face of the fireplaces soars to multi-tiered ceilings. “Each level is painted in slightly different shades to highlight the tiers,” Susan explained.

The opposite fireplace warms the music “room” with its comfortable chairs and unique stainless steel occasional tables. Just a step or two below, relax in the sunroom. Its nature theme intensifies the rhythm of the home’s black and white interior with vivid animal prints, tropical plants, and accessories from the African continent — a rain drum table, 16th century ceremonial masks. Handmade rugs, oversize vases filled with bamboo, and textured upholstery combine to create the feel of an exotic getaway. Susan especially likes the room’s slate floor.

“If we had known how much we were going to like it, we would have done more of it,” she said.

Hayley, the Marriott's playful black Labrador, waits patiently in one of the four sitting areas surrounding the three-sided fireplace located in the center of the home. Manhatten Textiles of Wauwatosa were the interior designers who helped coordinate the decorating for the Marriotts.
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The stunning glass-walled dining room opens off the space near the piano. A different but compatible white floor covering with jewel-toned accents is inlaid into the black granite floor. Plaid taffeta window treatments and black on black striped upholstery on the chairs add texture as do the faux-painted suede walls. Jim and Susan can set the mood with a flick of a switch thanks to a whole house lighting system that is programmable for a variety of themes.

“I love entertaining in here,” Susan said. “It’s very exciting!”

The Marriotts also love to cook. Beyond an oversize mudroom and huge walk-in pantry, the kitchen’s bold black theme is warmed with bird’s-eye maple wood cabinets with plenty of room to keep clutter from view. Several islands create work centers designed for specific tasks. The cooking island, for example is built lower than normal so cooks can see into deep pots. Other work center counter tops are ergonomically raised to accommodate the tall couple.

“We wanted to keep the look clean,” Susan said. “And we love windows.”

Wall-size windows are everywhere in the home, but even small windows were installed to let in the view between counter tops and upper cabinets. The breakfast area, which overlooks the patio and golf course, basks in morning sun. Susan explained that the house is placed on its lot to take advantage of sunlight as it moves through the day. The kitchen and breakfast room enjoy morning light, the great room is sunny throughout the day, and by sunset, the master bedroom and bath are aglow. “At five o’ clock the master bath explodes in light,” Susan said.

Back in the great room, a third fireplace warms the bar, a glass block design that dances with pink, green, purple, white and blue neon. “It’s a rotating rainbow,” Susan said.

Folks can catch glimpses of the big game on the TV behind the open and fully-stocked storage shelves in the bar or settle in for the entire tournament in the media room just across the hall. Outfitted with black leather seating, the room is built around state-of-the-art equipment framed with a colorful wall mural by local artist Marybeth Devine.

The wet bar located on the westside of the living room area is constructed of block glass that has neon lighting around the edge which changes colors on a rotating basis.
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The media room serves as the center for the house-wide sound system. Each room has a control panel allowing its occupants to access the media of their choice. Susan’s office is also on the first floor and, like the kitchen, is lined with cabinets and drawers to keep every bit of clutter out of sight.

Down a short hallway, the master bedroom has its own fireplace. Faux suede walls, comfortable chairs and a classic four poster bed sets the tone for pure relaxation. Instead of the typical dresser, everything is stored in a room-size walk-in closet with built-in drawers, abundant hanging space and a comfortable chair of its own.

“The master bedroom is a sitting room, not a dressing room,” Susan said.

The adjacent master bath has a glass-walled walk-in shower, several separate grooming and make-up areas and luxurious spa.

Susan says the real envy of her friends is the laundry room which features two front loading washing machines, two dryers, lots of storage, and uninterrupted spans of countertop for folding.

Upstairs a fully equipped exercise room overlooks the great room. “We are big exercisers,” Susan said. “Here you don’t feel isolated when you are working out.”

A full bath equipped with safety features opens off the exercise room and into the master guest suite decorated in rich golds and reds and designed especially for visiting in-laws. Guests can also enjoy the loft sitting room. Just beyond the guest bedroom, the sitting room overlooks the great room and gives guests a comfortable, private spot in which to read or enjoy their coffee.

Other second floor rooms are reached via a long suspended bridge. Anchored with girders and railed in steel, the walk affords a pleasant view of the foyer’s treetops as well as an overall view of the great room’s many living areas and the golf course beyond.

“It’s a hallway without walls,” Susan said. “At night the view from here is incredible. The lighting is incredibly romantic and the richness of the colors really pops.”

On the far wing, two bedrooms share a bath painted a rich eggplant and brightened with white and gray marble.

Though their home is definitely unusual, the Marriotts thoroughly enjoy the blend of symmetry and surprise. “The house is very warm, very inviting,” Susan said. “It definitely has its own personality.” “It is the epitome of a non-pedestrian house,” said Judy Fleming, the designer from Manhattan Fabrics in Wauwatosa who helped Jim and Susan pull their ideas for the interior together. “Its been a thrill to meet the vision of a most discriminating couple. Their vision was very unique.”