Martha Dayton Design Turns Country Roots into Prairie Living

Filled with surprises and sensational design, this custom build by Martha Dayton Design, Rehkamp Larson Architects, and Yerigan Construction pays tribute to family tradition

Photos by Spacecrafting

In this picturesque country abode’s kitchen, deep blue tones pair beautifully with white oak cabinetry.
Abundant windows and a floating staircase elevate the 5,500-square-foot Medina home’s open, airy feel.

Built on a sprawling 100-acre plot of land in Medina, this family home’s location is purposeful. In fact, it’s just a stroll away from the wife’s childhood residence—making the home’s connection to the surrounding prairie one that runs deep. 

It’s a rare opportunity to build a dream home from scratch and even rarer to build so close to the place your parents still dwell. Aware of the unique circumstances, the homeowners set out to find a team that could execute their vision of a 5,500-square-foot prairie-style home. Selecting the designers was easy, as president and principal designer Martha Dayton and design director Kelly Perry of Martha Dayton Design were already the couple’s friends and had an aesthetic eye that aligned with their own. Trusted collaborators Rehkamp Larson Architects and Yerigan Construction rounded out the team.

From the beginning, finding ways to honor the home’s location—and the views that came with it—was important to everyone. “Before we started construction, we built a tower out of scaffolding on the property so the family could see what the view from the loft would look like,” says Erik Yerigan of Yerigan Construction. The homeowners also requested their custom build to have abundant natural light, dedicated play spaces for their two boys, and design elements that paid tribute to the home’s lush setting.

An above-ground tunnel connects the 2,000-square-foot sport court to the main home.

Perry took the lead on the home’s interior design. Consulting closely with the homeowners, she selected interior finishes, lighting, hardware, furniture, and rugs for the house, keeping in mind the clients’ desire to mix contemporary design elements with their preowned décor pieces passed down from family members.

Upon entering the home, a custom wood and steel staircase greets visitors, while tall windows and clerestories above flood the entire main level with light—so much so, the homeowner says she rarely turns on overhead lights during daytime hours. Additionally, white oak makes a regular appearance throughout the open-concept space, as do colorful accents (including burnt orange, light pink, and deep blue) that turn up the visual volume.

“We really played off the color blue and threaded it into the design,” Perry says. The color appears in the sitting area, breakfast nook, and on the island base in the kitchen. There, the design team traded upper cabinets for a long bay of windows, which takes full advantage of expansive prairie views. A large pantry to satisfy all the family’s storage needs is nearby.

The main level also highlights two seating areas filled with texture and bold color, seamlessly marrying modern design to midcentury flair.
Heirloom furniture pieces mix with contemporary décor in the dining space.
A stylish bar features a custom wine rack.

In the dining and living rooms, a midcentury hutch styled with modern décor pieces blends design styles, while a double-sided, floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace creates two seating areas—one dedicated to cozy conversations and the other to watching TV. Opposite these living spaces is a functional bar with open shelving that displays elegant glassware and decanters. A wine rack is cleverly integrated within the design, and bottles artfully balance on metal rods.

While the main level is meant for adult entertainment and relaxation, the basement is a dedicated kid zone with a ping pong table, snack bar, and the boys’ bedrooms—plus, an exciting secret feature: A seemingly boring basement hallway actually leads to a tunnel—one that ends at a 2,000-square-foot sport court dubbed “The Fieldhouse.” With a unique plywood interior and plenty of space for all sorts of activities, it’s the perfect at-home hangout for the family’s budding basketball player.

Clad in plywood, this 2,000-square-foot sport court is lovingly dubbed “The Fieldhouse.”

But the tunnel has a second purpose. “It’s a tunnel, but it also serves as a retaining wall,” says Rehkamp Larson partner Mark Larson, who designed the home with colleague Ryan Lawinger. “The site is situated on a slope that allows the home to be a walkout, so you get lots of daylight on the lower level. The tunnel is holding up dirt on one side and allowing in daylight on the other.”

The homeowners’ younger son gets a special feature of his own—a playroom brandishing a hidden door. Toys, plushies, and a beanbag chair await inside the roomy, kid-centric space.

There’s plenty of opportunity for outdoor entertainment, too, but open prairie winds made for a challenge. The solution, perhaps unconventional but certainly innovative, was to situate the patio at the front of the residence. This way, the home acts as a barrier to frigid winds and allows the family to enjoy the space without disruption. 

Now, nothing but a line of trees separates the new house from the wife’s childhood home, and family visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s are a mere three-minute walk away. Inside their beautiful abode, these homeowners can now continue the tradition of making family memories—right back on the prairie where it all began.

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