In 1949, Frank Baker’s grandfather constructed a home using heavy timbers near the Maumee River in northwest Ohio. This home, which would become the Cotswold design, was Frank’s inspiration and motivation for establishing his company, Riverbend Timber Framing. A photo of the family home hung on his office wall and the design was included in the company’s plans book.
Over the years, Riverbend built thousands of timber frame homes—but never one based on the Cotswold until Brenda and Dave Gumula came along.
Right House, Right Place
Brenda and Dave were drawn to timber frame homes after experiencing the warmth of a friend’s home in New England. They were impressed with the beauty of the exposed beams and the energy efficiency of the structural insulated panels (SIPs) that enclosed the frame, but were not impressed with the vaulted ceilings common in many timber frame structures. They preferred the warmth and coziness of traditional saltbox or cottage styles.
“One of our neighbors and a previous co-worker, Gary Hayward, had retired and was working for Riverbend Timber Framing. We contacted him with our ideas to determine if the project was feasible,” Brenda says.
At the time, Dave and Brenda were living in a Victorian-style home in Maryland that was located on a double lot. They decided to subdivide the property and build on the adjacent empty lot. After reviewing different stock floor plans, they selected the Cotswold as the design that would most closely fit with their vision of an English cottage. The home would have nine-foot ceilings throughout, except for a vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom.
The Gumulas worked with Bob Vigh, an on-staff designer for Riverbend, to make several modifications to the Cotswold. The resulting 2,935-square-foot home includes an entrance foyer with a wrought-iron and American cherry staircase to the second story. Past the staircase on the left is a full bath off the hallway leading to the study. The study contains Brenda’s piano, a computer desk, a reading nook and a window seat. To the right of the entry, the kitchen leads to a mudroom and two-car garage.
Brenda and Dave situated their multipurpose great room straight ahead of the entry. The dining area is located in the right portion of the great room and the library is to the left. A screened-in sun porch is accessible from the sitting area.
After her retirement from IBM, Brenda began a business in decorative painting. Her main-level studio, adjacent to the mudroom, is ideal for her work.
At the top of the staircase are two small guest rooms, a bath and open gallery. A long hallway with closets on one side leads to the master bedroom suite. One of the modifications the Gumulas made to the Cotswold floor plan was to add a hallway to the bath with his-and-hers closets.
The changes Dave and Brenda requested made perfect sense. Riverbend’s design department manager, Marty Birkenkamp, says that the company has since modified the Cotswold’s plan to reflect the many details that the Gumulas added to the home, including two additional dormers, a studio, a relocated laundry near the master bedroom, window seats and a screened porch. Now the “modernized” version has replaced the original in Riverbend’s plans book.
Cozy and Green
“Riverbend Timber Framing is the flagship company of PFB Corporation, which is dedicated to ‘green’ solutions,” Marty explains. “Our timber frame and Insulspan structural insulated panels work together as an extremely energy-efficient system.” The Gumula home also boasts an efficient use of space in a two-story home while retaining the beauty of the post-and-beam construction.
The homeowners expanded PFB’s “green” philosophy to the interior of the home and installed wide-plank Brazilian cherry wood for the floors. This species is regarded as an environmentally sound choice as it is grown in a sustainable foresting system.
To find a builder for their dream, green home, Dave and Brenda interviewed four candidates before they decided to hire Matt McFarland, owner of McFarland Woods, Inc. Even though Matt had considerable experience with home renovations, the Gumula home would be his first full house project. One of Matt’s positive selling points was the fact that he had interned at Riverbend when he was a student at Ohio State University.