HGTV—Home and Garden TV— is the leader in home and lifestyle programming, which means they distribute their show to 99 million households. Not only that, their website attracts 5 million visitors per month. So they created their latest dream house in Stowe, Vermont, a small town in a small state (population, 621,000). Yes, but Vermont has such a good name: mountainous, beautiful rolling valleys, maple syrup, cheddar cheese and great strawberries. Don’t forget the skiing. Vermont’s tallest mountain and ski resort Mt. Mansfield hovers in the background southwest of the home making an easy walk to the ski lift.
The home is not one of those hedge-funder behemoths built conspicuously on a Vermont hill. This dream home consist of 3,400 square feet—three bedrooms , three and a half bathrooms and a gourmet kitchen. Living spaces are open and airy, helped by the tall ceilings. Even so, there is a sense of intimacy with this home.
` HGTV is famous for their dream homes. For the last 15 years they have been building luxurious homes in resort areas. They plan and build the home, decorate it with furnishing and art—a turnkey operation—and then they give away the home in a sweepstakes. This is a 2 million dollar package that also includes a GMC Acadia Denali, six Burton snowboards and $500,000 cash, which property taxes could eat up quickly.
HGTV has created a beautiful home on a wooded lot facing Mt. Mansfield, near the Spruce Peak hotel. This home has the graciousness of a string of pearls circling a beautiful woman’s neck. The house speaks of luxury, but it is not crass so much as understated sophistication. High ceilings made of beech wood give the overall feeling of lightness, more so when the large windows let in the environment.
Jack Thomasson, the planner with HGTV, did a master job of sighting the house. He and the architects and landscape planners screened the mountainside of the home with a grove of mature beech trees. In the winter, Mt. Mansfield looms behind the trees; in the summer, the leaves will hide the mountain, rendering privacy.
The house is true blue Vermont. Brendan O’Reilly, a local builder who is known for the quality of his work, has a staff that prides themselves on their craftsmanship. Linda Woodrum, of TS Hudson Interiors, Hilton Head, South Carolina and in charge of the interior design, was impressed. “It was a pleasure working with these craftsmen. They take so much pride in their work. I don’t always find that.”
She also used only Vermont furnishings and art. Ethan Allen crafter the furniture. All of the 62 works of art on the wall are by Vermonters, 42 are black and white photographs.
“I love black and white photography,” said Linda. “It is so honest and direct. After looking in the galleries I realized I wanted art that was not…I didn’t want everything to look perfect.”
15 of the photographs are by Peter Miller of Colbyville Vermont, a small hamlet attached to Waterbury. Eight are from his Vermont Icon series and seven are of skiing on Mt. Mansfield in the 1960’s , which includes a photo of Jean Claude Killy racing on Mt. Mansfield in 1964.
Perhaps the most unique of Miller’s portraits hangs on a narrow wall at the end of a clawed ball bathtub. It is of a Scottish Highlander cow, snow-laden, heavy with horns, staring directly at whoever is soaking in the tub. To the left of the tub, facing the Highlander, is a large window looking out on a mesh of beech trees behind which Mt. Mansfield hides.
On December 20 the house can be seen on a video tour at HGTV.com . On January 1 it will be shown on HGTV cable at 1 PM ET (and also it will be the centerpiece of HGTV’s Rose Bowl float. The dream home in roses?) At that time people can enter the sweepstakes and hope they are the one of some 40 million who win this jewel of a home.