Hank Haney’s modern-rustic Vaquero home

Posted Monday, May. 19, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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What you might expect at Hank Haney’s new Westlake home are rooms stuffed with golf memorabilia and walls lined with photographs of the celebrity golf coach rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

You’d be wrong. At first glance — except for the fact that the home is in Vaquero, which, of course, features a renowned private golf course — signs of the sport seem surprisingly absent from the striking home that Haney, of the Golf Channel’s The Haney Project, shares with his wife, Suzanne, and their 1-year-old-son, Henry. The welcoming, custom-built contemporary home is expansive, modular and all about lines and angles, yet it is also warm, with inviting textures.

Haney is known for his ability to turn around situations, fix problems and slowly but surely make something really good even better. Most famously, he coached Tiger Woods on his swing for six years, then wrote a book about it called The Big Miss. During five seasons of The Haney Project, he has taken individuals at the top of their life games and helped them improve their golf games, working with celebs ranging from Charles Barkley and Ray Romano to Sugar Ray Leonard, Rush Limbaugh and Adam Levine.

When you look more closely and hear the story of the house that Haney built, it quickly becomes apparent that the celebrity coach has put his personal stamp on the details. Take, for example, the pool. Corey Van Trease, owner of the design-build firm Van Trease Construction and the master builder who guided the Haneys through the process, says the couple wanted a pool from the get-go, but Hank changed it to a lap pool after spending time with Olympic champion Michael Phelps, whom he coached during The Haney Project’s 2013 season.

“Michael gave me some swim lessons while we were filming my show,” Hank explains. “He inspired me to put in a lap pool, and I swim every day.”

And then there’s the outdoor kitchen. The Haneys got to know celebrity chef Mario Batali well during his time on the show in the 2012 season, and now, a Mario Batali Amici wood-fired pizza oven is the centerpiece of the poolside kitchen and bar. “He gave that to Suzanne and I as a present,” Hank says.

Turns out, Haney can take some coaching, too. With the help of Van Trease, his house appears to be a 5,500-square-foot example of his laid-back, outdoors-loving style combined with what Suzanne affectionately calls his “super-intense” personality.

Two years ago, Hank and Suzanne started talking about a move. They were living in a Vaquero villa, but with their baby on the way, also wanted more space. While the home was 3,500 square feet, Suzanne says the layout “felt awkward” and made the house seem smaller than it was. They looked at a neighboring house that had Asian influences that they liked, but it just wasn’t the right place for them. However, the builder — Van Trease — turned out to be just right.

“We got with Corey,” remembers Suzanne, “and he said, ‘If you like that house, why don’t we build something similar, but better?’ So that’s what we did.”

They started the design process for the home in June 2012 and broke ground that November, working at a pace Van Trease describes as “lightning speed.” By August 2013, the couple were moving into their custom-designed home, having been intimately involved in the planning process.

“A lot of my time on a project like this is spent waiting on people to make decisions,” Van Trease says. “But anyone who knows Hank knows he is a hard-driving, goal-oriented person, and that really worked for our fast time frame.”

Suzanne also references her husband’s focused nature while describing the keen eye he cast upon the project as the house took shape.

“Hank didn’t sleep for about two months,” she recalls. “He was trying to change things here and there. Like, he didn’t want the garage in the front and the guesthouse in the back. It just didn’t make sense to him, so he switched them. And it was his idea to have a second garage, a one-car garage, placed right by the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to drag groceries from the other one all the way in the back.”

Suzanne was equally involved in the project, sourcing materials and researching possibilities. Her descriptions of the materials and elements that define the home — things like the reclaimed wood beams, Ipe Decking, Lueders limestone and quartz tile — make it clear that she and her husband logged a fair share of hours in the design process.

“We spent a lot of time on Houzz,” she says with a laugh.

Embracing the clean lines of modern architecture and decor, the couple also trusted Van Trease’s suggestions for natural building materials and textures that blend the line between indoor and outdoor.

“We really like a more modern design but not quite as modern as some,” Hank says. “And we also like a rustic look, so we settled on what we called a ‘rustic-modern.’ I don’t even know if there is such a thing, but that is what we called it.”

The home’s entryway, with its generously sized front door, sets the tone with a feeling of expansiveness. Wide, and flooded with light, it is part of the house’s main living area. The floor plan is U-shaped, and on each side are wide hallways, with floor-to-ceiling RAM windows on the exterior walls. The effect is almost like a gallery.

A look back toward the front porch gives a stunning view of the koi pond. Van Trease notes that the pond, all straight lines and right angles, “correlates perfectly with the home’s modular style.” It also introduces the element of water, which is important to the home’s design.

With the dramatic windows, the koi pond can be seen not only from the main living area, but also from the master bedroom. The views are similar to those of the lap pool, which Van Trease notes is visible from three sides of the house. “So water is a part of the view from almost everywhere in the home,” he says.

While ceilings, at 10 to 11 feet, are lower than in a classic contemporary, doorways are grand — all the doors are maple and 9 to 10 feet tall. And as in contemporary homes, the rooms are spacious and flow into one another.

As the main hub, the living room, kitchen and dining areas merge into a space where the dominant feature is what Van Trease calls “the fireplace wall” — styled with reclaimed wood and topped by textured birchwood.

“It’s almost like we were going to build the whole house around that wall,” Van Trease says. “You’ve got the 70-inch plasma TV because, obviously, Hank is a sports guy, plus this 6-foot-wide fireplace, and then, right next to it, we get all those pool views. It’s the anchor for the entire home.”

Van Trease says he likes to use “living materials,” like those woods, in his interiors — “whether they’re dead or alive,” as they add warmth and texture.

The Haneys selected Ann Sacks porcelain tile in Rustico Naturalle to replicate the look of weathered wood planking. Hank notes that when you love wood floors but also own big dogs — the family has three Labradoodles and a Havanese poodle — “those two things don’t go well together,” so the Ann Sacks tile gave them “the best of both worlds.”

Making a statement in the kitchen, a light-hued marble, Sterling Sky from Arizona Tile, tops the long, two-tiered counter and breakfast bar, while souped-up Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances tuck in amid the wall of dark-glazed custom maple cabinets — a feature that repeats throughout the home and provides ample storage to minimize clutter.

An alcove for sitting and sharing meals when time permits, the “dining room” extends seamlessly to the kitchen and borders the elevated entryway — separated simply yet dramatically by a thin wooden trough populated by live bamboo and orchid plantings. Its unusual silver-hued table, a Restoration Hardware find that easily dresses up or down, features wood hand-wrapped in brass with a deep zinc finish. Material-wise, it’s a match to a dresser found in the master bedroom.

“There are all these details that don’t necessarily jump out at you all at once, subtle things that have a cumulative effect and kind of blow you away later,” Van Trease explains. “You have these windows that are sitting on the floor and baseboards that are flush with the wall so they’re recessed, and you’ve got a ton of pocket doors throughout that can hide rooms so you don’t even know they’re there.”

The walls of windows facing the street are unfettered by window treatments. Suzanne says this is a fairly common practice among the residences in their neighborhood. When it’s time to shut out the light in the master suite, however, motorized Lutron blackout shades make that happen with the push of a button. This feature is duplicated in the adjacent guesthouse, located closer to the road. Separated from the main house by the koi pond and a blocked walkway framed by river rocks, the guesthouse has its own bath and kitchenette.

Appearances are deceiving in the modest master bedroom. Slide back a large pocket door, and a new depth of luxury is revealed. A hallway leads to twin walk-in closets with multiple hanging tiers, generous storage and individual his-and-hers washing machines for quick laundry fixes.

The master bath is a monstrous comfort zone where wood, porcelain, tile and high-tech features promise the daily luxury of a spa experience. Centerstage is a free-standing Kohler soaker tub topped by a dramatic, spherical chandelier Suzanne found at Restoration Hardware — one of her favorite features in the whole house. The his-and-hers theme is strong in this space, with long sinker cypress counters atop maple cabinetry, separate commodes and two TVs, mounted high for individual viewing. A tech center at the bath’s entrance handles it all — security cameras, sound systems and more.

Suzanne and Hank both rank the master suite as the crown jewel of the home’s construction.

“We have a great view of our front courtyard with our two huge oak trees that we wanted to design the house around, and our koi pond,” Hank explains. “Our master bath is amazing — huge tub, steam shower and dry sauna, with a great feel with the barn wood, tile and stone together.”

From a design-build perspective, Van Trease says he’s partial to the room as well, but the biggest draw for him is the countertops.

“Sinker cypress is like mahogany,” Van Trease says. “It’s the kind of wood that when you look at it, you want to eat it with a knife and fork. … It’s one of those unique materials I’ve wanted to use, but sometimes you have to wait years before the right opportunity presents itself.”

Outside, near the party-centric outdoor kitchen and the lap pool’s Ipe decking, are finally some signs that perhaps this is the home of a guy whose life is spent on well-manicured greens. The small lawn features artificial turf from Dallas-based Synthetic Grass Pros, a company and product for which Suzanne has done modeling work.

“I wanted a yard that was as green as possible and good for our dogs, so we have all artificial turf everywhere,” Hank explains. “We use very little water and all our landscaping is watered with bubbler sprinklers. The landscaping is evergreen and big; we didn’t want to wait forever to have things grow in. … My experience in our neighborhood told me that everyone puts in too much landscaping that is too small and then it all grows and they have too much. I wanted it to look great the day we moved in.”

Other practical indulgences abound in the home: A fence with thin stainless-steel cables provides a safety barrier around the pool without impeding the views; a game room attached to a home gym includes its own bath and a bar/kitchenette. Upstairs, there’s a guest bedroom and bath, too, featuring a mini-fridge and a space Suzanne labels “the dog sitter’s room.”

And, finally, behind the home gym is the expected nod to Haney’s livelihood. A tiny putting green is tucked back behind the house, where Hank can practice the sport that has made him famous. It’s a place where he can get into his super-intense mode, or not. No matter. Like his house, this is a retreat for the private Haney, a place to step out of the public eye and simply call home.

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