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Homes of the Year 2020

Southwest Missouri builders, architects and designers sent us their most innovative and creative work for our annual 417 Homes of the Year contest. We're in awe of each of these impressive local homes, and we think you will be, too.

By Lillian Stone

Nov 2020

$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photo by Brandon Alms Purchase Photo

Every year, we invite local builders and architects to submit their most jaw-dropping builds and inventive renovation projects. And every year, we’re floored by the creativity, engineering and sheer artfulness that goes into each home. Of course, to make everything fair and square, we asked out-of-market judges from the Home Builders Association of Greater Little Rock to take a look—and they were just as impressed as we were. From hidden media rooms and disappearing waterfalls to shuffleboard courts, mega hot tubs and creatively placed garage doors, you’ll find that our 2020 Homes of the Year are nothing short of spectacular.

$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photo by Robbie Holmes, Holmes PhotographyThe homeowners wanted a family-friendly space for their children and grandchildren—but privacy was also a must. That’s why the builder dedicated one side of the home to the master bedroom suite complete with a private bath. The other side of the home houses a separate wing for visitors.

Current But Cozy

Category: $2 Million or More
Winning Team: Builder | Byron Weber of Weber Home & Land, LLC; Architect | Jason Thompson of J L Thompson Design Group; Interior Designer | Haden Long of Ellecor Design


Local pros collaborated on this prairie modern home, proving that sleek doesn’t have to mean sterile.

According to Haden Long, owner and lead designer at Ellecor Design, prairie modern homes are a rarity in Springfield—but the style is becoming more common thanks to its warm, modern vibe. This project is no exception. Long worked closely with builder Bryon Weber and architect Jason Thompson to keep the space warm, but also impeccably modern. That required thinking outside of the box—for example, nixing stark white drywall, opting for wood on the ceiling instead of on the floors and opening up the main living areas so the space is more window than wall. After the home began to take shape, Long added lush rugs and richly upholstered furniture to create comfort. “All of the furniture is very comfortable, soft and liveable,” Long says. “None of those modern chairs that look like pieces of art that nobody wants to sit on.”

Those careful interior touches, combined with locally mined marble countertops from Phenix Marble Company, clean cabinets from Cabinet Concepts By Design and subtle tile from Unique Tile, place this home firmly in the modern category. But it’s the hidden details, like the locally made walnut interior doors with hidden hinges from Jamerson Door, that make this modern industrial gem a true work of art.

$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes PhotographyThe homeowner wanted to establish an easy, natural flow between the indoor and outdoor living spaces. To accomplish that, the design team chose to install tile flooring in the home’s interior, leading all the way out to the main outdoor living area.
$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes PhotographyThe master suite wing and the visitors’ wing are connected by a lush outdoor living area contained inside the main living space, the latter containing the kitchen and great room. To keep the space feeling cohesive and airy, the architect installed massive windows and a large sliding door.
$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes Photography“The main living areas don’t have a lot of walls, and we didn’t want to end up with a lot of white drywall in the spaces that do have walls,” Long says. That’s why the team opted for rich wood paneling on the ceiling, which really makes the windows and tile pop.
$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes PhotographyThe homeowners wanted the space to feel modern, but still warm and welcoming for visiting family members. To establish those unstuffy clean lines, the design team added wood tones like these walnut kitchen cabinets accented by Phenix Marble Company countertops. The latter features stone mined right here in Missouri.
$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes PhotographyThe design team drove home the prairie modern feel with these sleek cabinets from Cabinet Concepts. The uniformity of the space emphasizes its impressive size, and the warmth of the wood recalls the rich tones of midcentury style in a way that feels completely up-to-date.
$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes Photography“The wine cellar is one of my favorite details in the entire home,” says Ellecor Design owner and lead designer Haden Long. “It shows off the homeowners’ pretty impressive collection, and it really drives home how this space is meant to be shared with others. It’s meant to entertain.”
$2 Million 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Robbie Holmes, Holmes PhotographyModern industrial bathrooms are notoriously sterile—which is why Long spent hours selecting and placing warm light fixtures from The Light House Gallery. The unique lighting placement adds to the warm vibe in a space that might otherwise feel stark.
$1 Million Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photo by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesThe front entrance of this winning home greets guests with a disappearing waterfall, just one of the many surprising elements builder Travis Miller incorporated.

Host With the Most

Category: $1,000,000 to $1,999,999
Winning Team: Builder | Travis Miller of Travis Miller HomesArchitect | Dale Peer of Dale Peer Home DesignsInterior Designer | Lisa Clary of Kim Wood Design


Builder Travis Miller’s client wanted an entertainment-friendly space that would wow guests—and that’s exactly what he got.

For some homeowners, a stocked fridge barely scratches the surface when it comes to entertainment-friendly spaces. Enter Travis Miller’s client, a Colorado transplant who wanted a space that combined the natural spirit of the Rockies with some truly jaw-dropping entertainment amenities. Behold: one of the most eye-popping party pads we’ve ever seen.

As guests enter the home, they’ll encounter a disappearing waterfall; then, once inside, they’re met with a wet bar almost immediately inside the front doorway. Inside, the home manages to feel both high-tech and homey, with straight lines, smooth walls and rich walnut accents. Pop downstairs and you’ll find another entertainment space with arcade games and shuffleboard tables, plus a hidden media room paneled with reclaimed local barn wood and Colorado memorabilia. 

But the real star of the show is the outdoor area. To make your way outside, all you have to do is raise the automatic screen and slip through one of the massive glass sliders to open up the entire back of the house. There, you’ll find an outdoor kitchen area that’s undeniably better equipped than most indoor kitchens with a wall of stainless steel appliances, a sleek outdoor gas fireplace and a TV with a bar area and even a full-sized hot tub. Here’s hoping our invitation is in the mail.

$1 Million Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesBuilder Travis Miller’s client is a Colorado native with a passion for all things nature. To bring that passion to life, Miller created a feel he calls “Colorado warm,” full of straight lines, smooth walls and low, flat lodge-style ceilings.
$1 Million Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesTo bring the outdoors indoors—and vice versa—Miller had to get a bit creative. “The entire back of the house has these huge glass sliders,” Miller says. “There’s actually an automatic screen that comes down and opens up the whole back of the house as well, almost creating this screened-in area for the living space.”
$1 Million Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesThe home’s interior is certainly impressive, but the outdoor space is where the real magic happens. The outdoor kitchen is complete with a mister system for hotter months, TVs for entertainment and heating for those chilly Ozarks nights. The space also has a linear fireplace on the open deck overlooking a golf course, a bocce ball court and plenty of cozy seating.
$1 Million Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesMiller’s client is a near-constant entertainer, which made a guest-friendly space a necessity. “We had to think outside the box in terms of a space designed for entertaining,” Miller says, pointing out the unusual wet bar guests see almost immediately upon walking in. “We actually set a bit of a trend, because I see a lot of people doing something similar now,” Miller says, laughing.
$1 Million Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesGuests who pop inside to grab a drink will likely notice the stunning marble covering the wet bar and capping the stairway, which was sourced from Phenix Marble Company in nearby Ash Grove. “It’s details like that that really make this project stand out,” Miller says. Materials and finishes throughout the home keep guests on their toes and offer surprises with each visit.
$500,000 Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photo by Starboard & PortSporting ultra-modern charcoal grey brick and sleek exterior touches, the home is completely unique in the Saddlebrooke area. “It’s completely unlike anything you see around here,” says Builder Jason Bekebrede. “And that’s not to mention the behind-the-scenes details on the inside.”

Stately in Saddlebrooke

Category: $500,000 to $999,999
Winning Team: Builder | Jason Bekebrede of Monticello Custom Homes and Remodeling; Architect | Dale Peer of Dale Peer Home Designs; Interior Designer | Nathan Taylor of Obelisk Home


Builder Jason Bekebrede worked with a discerning pair of homeowners to create a sleek, texture-focused home unlike anything the Saddlebrooke area has ever seen.

The Saddlebrooke area has certainly seen its fair share of rustic homes and luxury cottages. So when Jason Bekebrede consulted with one area couple on the industrial, soft modern build of their dreams, he knew the project was going to be something completely unique. Perhaps the biggest hurdle: creating a modern space that still felt comfortable and flexible, especially given the homeowners’ collection of antiques.

Naturally, combining sleek interiors with heirloom antiques might intimidate some homeowners. But according to Nathan Taylor, the principal interior designer and co-founder of Obelisk Home, it can actually be a beautiful pairing. “The most important thing is letting each piece stand on its own,” Taylor says. For example, allowing a dark antique dresser to be the only heavy wood piece in a room. The homeowners took Taylor’s advice, creating a warm, entertainment-friendly space that’s light on ornamental elements but heavy on natural textures like stone and wood. Of course, the home also has its entertainment-friendly quirks. The basement is equipped with a wet bar and an entertainment space complete with a wine room and shuffleboard court. Overall, it’s the perfect space to sit back, relax and enjoy Saddlebrooke’s unparalleled views of the Ozark Mountains.

$500,000 Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Starboard & PortThe design team worked with Cabinet Concepts By Design to execute the stunning cabinets. The kitchen and bathroom are also complete with ultra-modern self-repairing surfaces that are equal parts gorgeous and low-maintenance.
$500,000 Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Starboard & PortIn addition to light-enhancing glass panels and natural stone accents that add texture and bring the outside in, this home also houses creative little surprises. For example, the wine room features a hidden door built into the wall.
$500,000 Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Starboard & PortThe bathrooms in this home have all been designed to be exquisitely modern. To avoid an overly sterile feel, the design team installed rounded fixtures in whites and greys to soften the overall feel of the space.
$500,000 Plus 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Starboard & PortLike many homes in the Saddlebrooke area, this project highlights some truly phenomenal 180-degree views of the surrounding Ozark Mountains. To make the most of the views, Bekebrede poured tall curbs around the lower patio and added cozy seating. “It definitely carries that inside entertainment space out,” Bekebrede says.
Less Than $500,000 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photo by Julie KruegerDespite its rustic modern exterior, builder Justin Skiles hesitates to refer to the home as a modern farmhouse. Instead, he labels it a modern eclectic. “I don’t see anything about that house that makes it a farmhouse,” Skiles says, laughing. “But I do see a lot of interesting modern design that gives it more of an eclectic feel.”

The Illumination Project

Category: Less than $500,000
Winning Team: Builder and Interior Designer | Justin Skiles of Bella Designed Homes; Architect | Dale Peer of Dale Peer Home Designs


Builder Justin Skiles had two goals with this project: find creative ways to let the light in, and help the homeowner carry out a heartwarming family legacy.

When builder Justin Skiles was hired to build a local family’s new home, he knew there was one element he absolutely had to include: a 9-foot dining table. According to Skiles, the table was a homage to the homeowner's carpenter father, who hoped that his son would carry on his legacy of bringing the family together. The request might seem a bit unusual, but Skiles says that it actually fueled his inspiration as he designed the rest of the home as a family gathering place.

“This house was really about [my client’s] dad and his family,” Skiles says. As another example, he points to an oak handrail he constructed for the home from locally sourced lumber. “I felt like that handrail was something that [my client's] dad would have wanted to build,” Skiles says. “If something seemed difficult, he was the kind of guy who’d say, ‘Well, let’s try to do it anyway.’”
That same attitude applies to the home’s name: The Illumination Project. Skiles worked with the homeowner to design a bright, energy-filled home without being bogged down by traditional fixtures. Now, the homeowner and his family spend their days basking in natural light courtesy of well-placed windows, light-filled sheetrock and even a built-in garage-style door in the kitchen.

Less Than $500,000 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Julie KruegerAs the self-proclaimed “family hub,” the homeowner wanted the space to feel comfortable for visitors of all ages. From the nine-foot dining table to the floating crystal globes that serve as delicate kitchen light fixtures, the home’s ingenuity really does center around its open, airy gathering spaces.
Less Than $500,000 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Julie KruegerWith floating crystal lights in the kitchen and sheetrock-embedded lights in the hallway, the home is full of innovative light fixtures. The master bedroom is no exception, featuring low-maintenance privacy windows and funky sconces allowing for maximum open wall space.
Less Than $500,000 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Julie KruegerWhen it came time to execute The Illumination Project, light was obviously key—but the homeowner wasn't interested in bulky fixtures or stark overhead lighting. The builder leaned into the homeowner's minimal style, opting for discreet but powerful fixtures like the ones in this bathroom.
Less Than $500,000 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Julie KruegerTo achieve this ultra-modern laser effect in the home's hallway, Builder Justin Skiles worked with the homeowner to embed hidden light fixtures in the sheetrock. The end result gives the home a touch of intergalactic flair.
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photo by Randy Colwell, Colwell CapturesThis iconic midcentury home sits just steps away from Phelps Grove Park and, until recently, was completely untouched and unrenovated on the inside. “The renovation was challenging, but the end product was something I never could’ve envisioned,” Builder Travis Miller says.

Mid-Century Mastery

Category: Best Renovation/Restoration
Winning Team: Builder | Travis Miller of Travis Miller Homes; Interior Designer | John Warren of One of a Kind

(Editor's note: John Warren has since passed away.)

Area design experts worked together to inject new life into this untouched Phelps Grove treasure.

Springfield natives may recognize the mid-century charmer just a quick jaunt from Phelps Grove Park. But while the home’s exterior was impeccably kept, the interior remained completely untouched for more than half a century—that is, until Travis Miller’s client moved in. “My client had a vision of modernizing the home while keeping most of the original design,” Miller says. But how do you renovate an untouched home without torpedoing its character? According to Miller, it’s all about the details. “We kept all of the original doors and the elaborate curved trim,” he says, mentioning that they upgraded the outdoor entertainment area and added a wet bar as well.

Miller adds that he couldn’t have restored this Springfield treasure without the help of another Springfield treasure: The home was interior designer John “Greenhaw” Warren’s final project before he passed away, and the homeowner was one of Warren’s dearest friends. “John took something old and truly turned it into something new while guiding the client throughout the process,” wrote the homeowner in an email statement alongside One of a Kind co-owner Brad Warren. “The attention he paid to all the details makes this project one of a kind. Not only did John help make the process smooth, but his entire team pitched in and made the process exciting.”

Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner - Before
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerBEFORE
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner - Before
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerBEFORE
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerAFTER | While the design team certainly wanted to update the home, it already had plenty of unique touches—like this indoor planting area near the home’s entryway. The team also kept the home’s original hardwood flooring, opting to restain and refinish the flooring instead of replacing it with something shiny, new and likely much less interesting.
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerSuccessful renovation is more than just skin-deep. In the end, Miller and his team had to replace all of the home’s plumbing, wiring and duct work, a major project for a home of this size. They also had to demolish plaster and lath walls, which, according to Miller, is notoriously tricky to do.
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerThe design team incorporated midcentury touches like rich woods and sleek lines—but they did so in a clean, modern way that sent the design straight into 2020.
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner - Before
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerBEFORE
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerAFTER | One of a Kind co-owner John Warren packed the space with personality, putting a lifetime of expertise into what would be his final interior design project. Fittingly, the anonymous homeowner is a longtime friend of Warren’s—making Warren’s lasting (and impeccably stylish) legacy even more meaningful.
Renovation 417 Homes of the Year Winner
Photos by Randy Colwell, Colwell Captures, courtesy Travis MillerThe home’s welcoming outdoor entertainment space was already packed with the boogie-woogie party vibes of the 1950s and 60s. To freshen it up, the team played with curved lounge silhouettes and exterior lighting.

MEET THE JUDGES

This year's contest was judged by five experts from the Home Builders Association of Greater Little Rock.

DeYmaz is the president of Graham Smith Construction based in Little Rock, Arkansas

ZACK DEYMAZ
The first of our five judges is Zack DeYmaz. DeYmaz is the president of Graham Smith Construction based in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has been working with Graham Smith and guiding clients through the homebuilding process since 2011.

Kevin Williams of  Old Arkansas Alarm Co

KEVIN WILLIS
Arkansas native Kevin Willis has been in the security industry for more than 25 years. Growing up, his carpenter father taught him the tricks of the trade—so it makes sense that construction is a lifelong passion. He proudly works at Old Arkansas Alarm Co, a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small business.

Eric A. Kitchens is a regional showroom manager for Southern Pipe & Supply Co., Inc.

ERIC A. KITCHENS
Eric A. Kitchens is a regional showroom manager for Southern Pipe & Supply Co., Inc. He’s been in the industry for 20 years specializing selecting plumbing fixtures to meet client needs. High-profile clients include nationally, musicians, recognized designers and major league baseball and football players.

Joey Abeyta is the branch manager at Lansing Building Products in Little Rock, Arkansas

JOEY ABEYTA
Joey Abeyta is the branch manager at Lansing Building Products in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2009, he obtained his BBA in business management at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas—a major step for a disabled Army veteran like Abeyta. In 2017, he obtained his MBA from CalUniversity.

Tonya Perkins, Arkansas Realtor

TONYA PERKINS
Tonya Perkins has been a licensed realtor since September of 2011, when she kicked off her long legacy as an award-winning, multi-million-dollar-producing real estate agent. A native of Central Arkansas, Perkins has lived in the Jacksonville/Cabot area of the state for the majority of her life.

HOMEBUILDING TIPS FROM SWMO PROS

Jason Bekebrede on softening the clean lines of modern homes: “With [the Stately in Saddlebrooke] project, we opted for a light hickory floor. It has enough wood grain to give off a softer feel. We also made sure to encase the steel posts inside and outside of the home in a warm wood. That gives the cool, modern feel but also connects the home to the soft, natural feel of the wood.”
Byron Weber on the challenges of building a modern home: “Believe it or not, modern homes can sometimes be the most difficult to build. That's because there are a lot of very precise structural elements to take into consideration—things like big panels of glass, exposed materials like steel and wide, expansive open spaces. You have to very carefully manage the margins of each space. Proper alignment is critical, and it's easy to tell if it's off even a little bit. A builder who's very experienced with modern homes is your best bet.
Nathan Taylor on incorporating antiques into an ultra-modern space: “The most important thing is letting each piece stand on its own and not make it feel like it’s part of everything else, each piece keeps its individuality. For example, if you have a brown antique dresser, it can be the only thing that’s brown and everything else can be totally contrasting with it.”
Haden Long on creating seamless transitions between outdoor and indoor spaces: “The biggest thing is the materials. You have to make them as maintenance-free as possible. For example, with [the Current But Cozy] project we went with an all-tile floor, which allowed us to have a clean transition from the indoor spaces to the outdoors. Of course, when you have a hard surface like on the floor, it might not be as warm and soft as wood—but it is more durable. That’s why we added some warmth by using wood on the ceiling instead of the floor.”

Behind the Design

LEARN MORE

Now that you’ve had the chance to check out 2020’s Homes of the Year, we’re giving you an inside look into the details behind the projects. Here’s a selection of the companies that were involved and that can help you make your home magazine-worthy too!