Written by Kathy Roberts, Editor; Photography by Jim Rogers; Build and Design by Thomas Construction
Jeff and Diane Cooper have traveled the world over for their jobs and business, but have also journeyed extensively to take their Golden Retrievers to national shows, many of which they’ve won. Now they’re mostly retired at their beautiful Lake home, which was built with many nods to their big furry “kids.”
Jeff and Diane Cooper have had homes in the Lake area for 8 years, and bought this parcel of land four years ago. It’s an amazing 11 acres, with 2,000 feet of Lakefront. Two years ago they decided to build, and worked with Thomas Construction to get it done. Jeff worked closely with much of the home’s design and decorative effects — including the fabulous arches across the lower levels of the Lake side — and the home was just finished this past April.
The couple grew up in Minot, North Dakota, and met in 7th grade when he was in a play. He played “Oliver” and she asked for his autograph after. He told his mom that night that he was going to marry her. They married when she was 18, he was 19 and still in college. The day after the wedding, they loaded up their VW Bug and moved to Portland, Oregon. They both worked at a Pancake Corner while they finished college.
After a few years they became involved with dogs — Golden Retrievers. All of their dogs are
show dogs. One, Murphy, was the No. 1 Golden Retriever in the nation in 2005. He has since passed away, but proceeds from his breedings have paid for the Murphy Spay/Neuter Clinic at S.T.A.F.F. (Society for the Treatment of Abandoned and Fractured Friends) in Laurie/Sunrise Beach.
They’ve now been married 38 years, and say they plan to spend most of the year here, with maybe a couple of the winter months somewhere warmer, such as Phoenix or Florida. As you enter their home into the living room through the massive 10-foot-high walnut front door, the most noticeable thing is how roomy and open the space is. With 18-foot-high ceilings, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows with a view out to the Lake, minimal furnishings and an open floor plan, the feeling is very uncluttered and free. Doors lead to the upper-level deck from all rooms on the main level. The deck flows into smaller sections off the different rooms, each with its own seating area. There’s also an outdoor kitchen. All are at least partially covered by the beautiful porticoes and look out over the lower-level pool, which is embellished with a fountain.
Both Jeff and Diane prefer to do things around the house rather than going out much. They did a lot of the finish work and made many things for the house themselves instead of having it done by outside contractors. Jeff has his own woodworking shop on the property, and built much of the furniture in the home, but it looks so beautiful that you would never guess it was homemade! Eric Sutton works in the shop, and helps Jeff maintain the property, as well as with his other projects.
Floors in the living room and throughout the upper level are travertine tile, and the furniture is leather. This makes it easier for the dogs to romp around, and also allows for a more carefree cleanup from the dogs’ shedding. Handsome circular wood chandeliers personally handcrafted by Jeff and Diane add the perfect touch. A huge fireplace is adorned with a large mantel decorated with verdigris swans the couple brought back from a trip to Thailand.
They enjoy working together on their endeavors to get things right (some of which they’ve had to redo once or twice), but they say they still pay less than if they buy new. And they have a good time doing it!
The open kitchen is filled with all-GE top-of-the-line appliances, and Jeff uses the magnificent stove to be the chef in the family! On the wall behind the stove is a fabulous bronze bas-relief of their dogs, done by bronze artist Jim Gion. A corner breakfast nook overlooking the Lake provides the perfect spot for a morning cuppa.
On the other side of the kitchen is the master suite, a comfy, conservative space the couple finds
very relaxing. The bed features a walnut headboard made by Jeff. There’s also a sitting area with a beautiful morning view. In the bath, a corner whirlpool tub and a multihead, glass-enclosed shower are luxurious touches, with all the tilework having been designed by Jeff. Along the wall leading to the closet are walnut cupboards cradling double sinks with a makeup table in between.
The nearby laundry room is filled with dark wood cupboards, and is very splendid by most standards. Diane says she loves to do laundry! Close by is the garage, with room for three cars. Diane doesn’t like clutter, so there are lots of built-in cupboards and closets. Very clean! Of course, it helps that there’s a separate workshop to keep Jeff’s woodworking messes out of the way.
Adjoining the living room on the opposite side is the family/game room. Diane says they had game rooms in previous homes but seldom used them because they were separate. This one is combined with the family room, making the games more accessible. Amusements include a pinball machine, an electronic table featuring several games in one and a pool table. An octagonal bar designed and made by Jeff is along one windowed wall, but perhaps the most dramatic piece in the room is the baby grand player piano with a shiny ebony finish.
A nearby elevator to the lower level may be used when they’re older, Diane says, or when/if her
parents come to stay with them. Just beyond the elevator is a half bath with a beautiful copper-color dome fixture. An office — Diane’s “work shrine,” — is at the end of the hallway, with many souvenirs of her long career. The beautiful desk is embellished with carved wood trim, and a credenza beneath the window features carved leather insets.
The bedroom on this corner has been dubbed “Rita’s Suite,” for one of Diane’s sisters. It has a covered balcony completely separate from the other deck, and clerestory windows with a fabulous view of the neighboring treetops. The room is very relaxing, with a silver and-white color scheme. Hanging above the curved stairway is one of the most eyecatching features in the home — “drip lights”! Jeff made these, and they decided to use 27 “drips” because they live on the 27 mile marker. They had looked at similar fixtures in stores and online, but Jeff says he made this one for a fraction of the cost, although it was time-consuming.
Down the stairway (be sure to watch where you’re going — those marvelous “drip” lights can be very distracting!) is a richly carpeted bedroom planned for future occupancy by Diane’s parents, with a sliding door that leads out to a poolside patio. The room has a separate full bath with double sinks, as well as a walk-in closet.
The lower-level family room has lovely floors of stained and polished concrete, again to be dog-friendly. Jeff built all the cabinetry in this area, including shelves, cupboards and the fireplace and TV surround. A curved leather seating area allows great views of the TV, the pool outside and the Lake. One wall is home to an upright piano the couple has had for years. This space also features a picnic-style table, a bar and a half bath. Sliding doors lead out through the arched porticos to stairs leading up to the pool area.
Behind the family room is a home theater! Playbills of the productions in which Jeff starred in high school adorn the walls, and there are two rows of comfy leather seating. A library! Most homes these days don’t have a library unless it’s part of the office, but this home has a rather large one. Diane says they contemplated buying a collection of books to fill it, then decided to wait and find books they love, on their own. Off the library is a wine cellar with plenty of room for all their favorites! Everything here was built by Jeff.
Another laundry room on this level will be convenient for her parents and any guests who stay in the last guest room, which also has sliders to the patio, plus its own bath with an open shower. At the end of this level is a well-equipped gym that Diane and Jeff both use daily. They like to exercise early in the morning when the Lake view through the arches includes the sunrise. The attached sauna was made from cedar trees that had to be cleared from the yard to make room for the house. A stairway from the gym leads back up to the kitchen area.
Their dogs — OughtaBe causing commotion: “Ruckus;” Gottabe OughtaBe breaking hearts: “Teaser;” Shoreline OughtaBe trolling the cove “Fisher;” and Tamarack OughtaBe the Mayor: “Rudy” are their ‘kids’. So besides the patio, workshop and pool, another outbuilding of which the Coopers are especially proud is the Dog House.
This is an octagonal building used for grooming the dogs, and it also has the stained concrete floor. One room features a special bathing tub with a ramp leading up into it. Half the house is glassed in with sliding doors and a grooming table. Diane says the dogs all LOVE to be out here! The upper part of the walls, above the sliding doors, are decorated with professional photos of the dogs, and there’s a special display of ribbons and medals they have won. A fun feature here is the Golden Retriever weathervane topping the roof!
From the sliding doors here, you can walk directly over to the pool with its beautiful fountain. It’s the perfect spot to catch some rays, or relax in the evening with a cocktail. A grand staircase leads back up to the main level for ease of carrying refreshments, towels, etc. in and out.
The Coopers have done all their own landscaping so far, and say they have even more they want to do. They love working on the house and the yard, and find it rewarding and satisfying. Other favorite pastimes include golfing, boating on their tritoon, watching the fireworks at Tan-Tar-A just across the Lake, and making plans to do something different and exciting every Thursday.
They also enjoying entertaining. They’re both from big families. She is one of six girls and he is one of five boys. Totally different, but they say that makes it fun!
Oh, and of course going to Dog Shows whenever possible and just playing and romping around the house and yard with their dog babies! •