Architectual Challenge

Inspired by homes in Israel, the Weinsweig family overcame a number of challenges to build their dream home on the banks of the Ohio River.

By Carter Taylor Seaton

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In Proctorville, Ohio, there’s a house that merits an Architectural Digest cover. It has more angles than a professional con man, but from the entrance you’d think you were entering a traditional, if somewhat unusually shaped home. The front porch, with its potted hibiscus, bright yellow front door and benches welcome you to the home of Tammi Weinsweig and her family. But inside, it’s anything but traditional. It’s a stark modern design with soaring vaulted ceilings and an abundance of glass, steel, granite and wood.

In one sense, the most interesting part of the house may be the story of how Tammi and her late husband, Dr. David Weinsweig, built it. It all started when they traveled to Israel about 10 years ago.

“We saw a couple of houses in Israel with kind of an odd design featuring lots of geometric shapes,” Tammi explains. “We actually had an Israeli architect design our home. We brought the plans back here, but we could not build the home as it was originally designed.”

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It seems homes in Israel are built to deal with very little rain. They have no gutters and no downspouts.

“The construction methods they use weren’t compatible with the weather in Appalachia,” notes Josh Dygert, an architect at Edward Tucker Architects. Dygert undertook a redesign of the plan, allowing for construction methods normally used in the United States. In Israel, the home’s skeleton is typically made from completely cast concrete forms, whereas, here, steel beams are the standard.

“The ideas of the spatial relationships and the layout of the building were very useful in moving forward,” Dygert said. “We just needed to make some adaptations.”

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Once the plans were finalized, Bailey Construction, Inc., from Ceredo, West Virginia, began construction, with Dygert consulting along the way. From the time Bailey dug the footers, two years passed before the family moved in at the end of 2012.

“The house is significantly different than the one we originally envisioned,” says Tammi. “It was going to have more fine edges, a lot more squares and triangles.”

As it is, the final design still has a plethora of unusual architectural features. Within its 5,200 square feet, there’s little that is standard. Because of the vaulted ceiling in the living room, the drywall panels had to be 12 feet tall instead of the standard 8 feet. The baseboards sit flush with the floor, instead of having an additional rounded finish.

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The fireplace, which dominates one wall of the living room, looks like one huge slab of granite that reaches to the tip of the ceiling, but it does have seams. Tammi chose a polished cosmic black granite, mined in Israel, which posed a problem in matching the pieces and concealing the seams. Today, she’s thrilled with the finished product. Resting on a quartz hearth, the fireplace’s seams are virtually invisible.

On the adjoining wall, the nearly 23-foot wide glass window provides a breathtaking view of the Ohio River. It looks as if its dividing beams support each section of glass, but it is actually one solid piece. It’s a massive thing — 21 feet tall on the high end and 16 on the short end.

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“It was delivered twice, broken,” Tammi says with a laugh.

Outside, their carefully manicured lawn stretches to the Ohio riverbank.

Throughout the house, light maple floors provide a foil for the colorful walls. A room originally planned as David’s exercise haven, is now a home theater featuring deep seats and a 100-inch screen for movie viewing. The next room over serves at a home gym complete with state-of-the-art exercise equipment and an adjoining bathroom featuring a full steam shower.

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In addition to the living room, home theater and gym, the ground floor also features a practical kitchen space with granite counters, modern appliances and cozy dining. A staircase featuring wooden steps and steel railing system leads to the second floor and five bedrooms. There are two laundry rooms, one on each floor, for Tammi’s large family.

The Weinsweig daughters, Zoie and Annabella, have a Jack & Jill suite at one end of the upstairs hall; at the other end is Tammi’s oasis. In between is son Noah’s bedroom and a suite reserved for Tammi’s other sons when they visit. Just off the upper landing, an outdoor deck overlooks a pool and provides an even better view of the river. From here, you see another architectural feature: the rock roof on each flat section of the home.

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It’s a technologically smart home as well. One control, installed by Proctorville-based diamond design, LLC, manages 90 percent of the home’s electrical features including lighting, alarm system, heating and cooling and even the television sets. Bathroom floors are heated and designed to automatically increase the temperature as needed.

The spectacular design isn’t confined to the inside. Behind the home a 25 by 50 foot black lagoon pebblecrete pool with attached spa stretches toward a pool house. An automatic cover protects the pool at the touch of a button. As the pool was being built, David, who had originally wanted a lap pool, convinced the builders to place several glass crystals in the bottom creating one disguised swim lane. On the surrounding patio, an outdoor fireplace complements the fireplace inside.

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Since David Weinsweig lived in his dream home for only a year before his untimely death, Tammi planned the interior décor to give her family the feeling of relaxation and joy. Nevertheless, the unusual design is still a testimony to their shared vision of bringing a little bit of Israel back to Appalachia. 

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