By Sysan Creel — Contributing Writer | Photos By Jim Rogers
Three stories of angles and curves, with stunning stonework both outside and in, as well as fabulous woodwork and cabinetry everywhere you look — those are what make the home of Preston and Sharon Swafford a breathtaking masterpiece. Count the rooflines and you will understand why there are so many nooks and corners to fill with imaginative furniture settings. Count the curves, from the point upon which the home sits to the driveway in front, the Lakeside pool, the interior and exterior arches, the soaring staircase, even the windows and doors, to begin to understand the serenity of this home.
Come through the gate, down the curved drive and past the fountain. Step through the curved wood, glass and wrought-iron double front doors and just try to keep from saying, “Wow!” This entryway, and the entire home, is truly spectacular.
Preston and Sharon Swafford met when they were both students at Northeast Missouri State, then he went on to study nuclear engineering at Mizzou. Now he’s the president and CEO of CANDU Energy, Inc., whose nuclear reactors supply 16 percent of Canada’s electricity requirements as well as being an important part of clean-energy programs in North and South America, Europe and Asia.
When the couple decided to build a home at the Lake of the Ozarks, they poured over designs for more than seven years before engaging the services of Thomas Construction and Chris Derrick of Warrenville, Illinois. After ground was finally broken, construction took four years. The exterior is a perfect marriage of stone and brick. Fanciful window placement, chimneys and a turret give it a castlelike charm.
It took another five years to complete the interior design with the assistance of Laura Armstrong of Patricia Schmidt Interiors. Extensive cabinetry and beautiful woodwork was done by Classic Industries, and John Elliot was the source of many of the furnishings. Throughout the home, crown molding and baseboards match the grandeur of the space. All of the interior doors are carved knotty elder.
Now, at last, the project is complete and Preston and Sharon can relax and enjoy their home.
Just inside the entryway, a huge grandfather clock from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, guards the breathtaking wood-and-wrought-iron staircase as it curves up to the domed ceiling high above. Past the foyer, an arched, wood-paneled passage leads to the formal living room beyond.
Here, 24-foot-high windows meet at right angles to offer an awe–inspiring view of the sky and the Lake. A curved mirror encased in wood also soars to the ceiling above the fireplace. Beside it, a media center is built into a wood unit that repeats the design of the fireplace surround. In the center of the room, a 35-foot curved sofa created by Marge Carson, Inc., a Pomona, California, furniture design artists group, is covered in pillows and invites family and guests to relax.
Between the living and dining rooms a half wall is topped with a curved shrimp sink. On the living room side a bar houses significant wine storage.
For formal dining, a round table with eight chairs, also by Marge Carson, is perfectly centered within the octagonal room. Wide ceiling molding with hidden lighting accentuates the room’s shape, while three of the eight sides are windows to the water.
The spectacular kitchen features two islands, one in elaborately carved granite and the other a heavy butcher’s block. An enormous travertine stone hood tops the Wolfe grill. A faucet to fill pots is above the grill and a small sink in which to empty them is immediately to the left. A huge copper country sink is across the room. All cabinets are cherry; some feature seeded glass. Valances in a rooster pattern and trimmed with tassels top the windows.
Adjacent to the kitchen the gathering room features a huge fireplace with a flat-screen TV above encased in cabinetry. Throughout the main and upper floors of the home, wherever carpeting is used it appears in black with varying patterns. Likewise, draperies are also black but patterns vary. The gathering room is no exception. Here the black carpet’s pattern includes designs in red that are echoed in the comfy solid red leather sofa and long ottoman, perfect for relaxing upon to watch TV. The draperies are large black-and-white checks with plenty of fringe, and the side chairs repeat the look with upholstery of small black-and-white checks.
A casual dining booth for family meals was custom made in Tennessee. Sub-woofers for the sound system are hidden in the side panels of the benches. Just off the kitchen/gathering area a screened-in porch moves the party outside. The L-shaped deck on this level adds impressive outdoor dining space.
On the opposite side of the main level, the extravagant master suite is a world of its own. The enormous Marge Carson bed faces a Country French fireplace beside a freestanding closet with arched doors. Crystal chandeliers hang over each of the bedside tables. Through arched doorways, the six-sided sitting room overlooks the water, and a door leads to a private deck. Here another large crystal chandelier hangs in the raised ceiling above the glass hexagonal coffee table.
The master bath features floor-to-ceiling cabinetry surrounding separate personal sinks and grooming areas. Travertine tile steps lead to the two-person Jacuzzi with arched windows overlooking the outdoors and the private deck. The two-person shower, tiled with earth-tone travertine tile, features two overhead showers, two side showers and a shower hose. A built-in bench is perfect when the steam feature is utilized.
His-and-hers walk-in closets provide organized space for every category of clothing. Hers includes a long built-in cabinet topped with shelves where jewelry is displayed for ease of selection. An ironing board is hidden behind cabinetry for quick touch-ups. More crystal chandeliers enhance the fairy-tale feel.
Across the hallway from the master suite, double doors off the foyer open into the impressive office/library. Bookshelves rise from cabinets topped with granite, and the ceiling is covered with cork inlaid with copper flakes. A pillow-covered sofa in front of a wall of windows faces a coffee table appearing to be made of a stack of suitcases. The pole of the whimsical lamp appears to be a miniature spiral staircase. Across the room, the granite of the cabinet top swerves outward to create a built-in desk.
Garage spaces flank both sides of the home. One of these houses Preston’s collection of vintage automobiles as well as a lift. His favorite is the 1939 Buick Century Convertible Coupe.
Up the sweeping, curved staircase off the living room, a balcony sitting area overlooks the front hallway on one side and the living room on the other. Here, a large chaise longue reclines before a Chinese screen. One of the two beautiful guest bedrooms on this level features a walk-in cedar closet. While both bedrooms include en suite bathrooms, the second features double sinks, a large Jacuzzi tub and a walk-in shower.
Although visiting family members and guests enjoy every convenience, there is nevertheless a definite air of having stepped into a secret, decades-old hideaway when you descend to the home’s lower level.
The travertine tile floor sweeps past the main living room to three curved stone arches. These surround the granite bar of another full kitchen, where three large casement windows topped with valances open to the backyard and the Lake beyond. Just past the kitchen, a huge Bentley Churchill sofa, trimmed with leather and fringe and covered with pillows, faces a corner stone fireplace. An enormous fringed ottoman completes the comfort. Double floor-to-ceiling windows are framed by draperies created by Dave Miller of Windows and More, as are all window coverings on this level.
Throughout the room, seven paintings by Preston’s sister, Annette Green, feature fascinating people and scenery from the ’30s and ’40s. The largest of these depicts a street scene in Paris and a 1939 Buick Century Convertible identical to the one upstairs in the garage.
A whimsical gate with wrought-iron vines and grapes leads to a brick-floored wine cellar. Just outside the gate, a large, wood-framed mirror hangs above a faux antique woodworkers’ bench topped with more wine. Next to it, an old wine barrel has been repurposed to become a bar table with two stools. Nearby, another three stone arches open to the poker/game room. Here, a large map of the United States shows all the locations in which the family has resided.
Down a short hallway, the movie room is lit with wall sconces, painted deep Tuscan red and hung with movie posters. The ceiling appears starlit thanks to fiber optics above a black panel. In the back of the room a bar allows guests to eat a full meal while enjoying the show. Black leather easy chairs are above and behind sofa seating. Long ottomans in front store blankets for snuggling. There is even a popcorn machine just outside the door.
On the other side of this lower level, a tiny nook beside the barista bar provides the perfect place for sipping a wonderful cup of coffee or espresso. A fabulous workout room behind double glass doors offers your choice of equipment, along with electronic entertainment to keep you amused while working out. A full bath is just down the hallway, and yet another corner creates a sitting room in which to read or chat beside windows topped with swags of black- and earth-tone plaid.
Two bedrooms on this level are claimed by the Swafford’s children when they visit. Their son’s room features a built-in window seat and a bed of wrought iron and wood. Their daughter’s overlooks the Lake. Of course, each features an en suite bath and, as with the other two guest rooms, a king-size bed.
Outside, the infinity pool, hot tub and complete outdoor kitchen beckon. The stone arches of the interior are repeated in those of the back patio overlooking the water. Walkways lead through the lawn and garden and to the dock resting in the cove near the 14 mile marker. A circular Lakeside stone patio offers a comfortable conversation area surrounding a fire ring.
With the security of Fort Knox, the house is equipped with cameras everywhere. Randy Sparks, owner of 21st Century Automation, has provided the equipment and services to allow Preston and Sharon a clear view of any room or any place on the property from anywhere in the world at any time. They can control heating, cooling, lights and security with the touch of an iPad or phone.
Although his business takes the couple far away at times, they are always anxious to return. Their dream come true is truly their place for dreaming.