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Homeowners think of spring
By Kathleen Ostrander

Mother Nature may have slammed Springfield with a snowstorm in February, but spring is just a step away in the home owned by Max and Cheri Hammer at Panther Creek.

Elegant flower arrangements, a profusion of plants as well as a greenhouse at the back of the house make the Hammer house an oasis of light in a dreary winter landscape - it's almost like being transported to Florida.

When Max Hammer decided nine years ago he wanted to build a house, he wanted it customized, because it was going to be the last house he was having built, and he wanted it to look like a house he saw in a magazine flying out of the area for a ski trip.

"That house was in Tampa, and the next week I went to see it," Hammer said. "I wanted a house that was open, airy and had lots of light." The house on Foxhall Lane certainly achieves that: The main views have light flowing in through unobstructed areas that open onto the golf course and window treatments are downscaled to put the emphasis on light.

Walls and carpeting are done in neutral shades, which add to the feeling of openness and provide a perfect foil for the incredible artwork, pottery and glassware the couple has collected over the years. Hammer said he likes to buy art at local shows to help promote area talent.

The marble-tiled foyer opens into a sunken living room with a view of flowering geraniums, bougainvillea plants and some spectacular poinsettias. The living room looks out into the greenhouse, but beautiful thriving plants splash green accents throughout the décor. "I work with the plants in the greenhouse and the outside landscaping," Hammer said. "My wife handles the inside plants as well as the floral arrangements."

A pewter-colored bureau with a curved front is in the front foyer, where mirrors decorate the entryway. The bureau was made by Mark Hodel, a friend of the Hammers. A large mirror framed in gold adds length and depth to the front of the dining room and living room.

The lightest of tan walls are framed by white woodwork, in keeping with the Florida theme. Recessed ceiling lighting highlights the crown molding. A gold and silver theme is carried throughout the house, but polished silver is used judiciously as an accent. Cabinet hardware is brushed so the contrast with the warm tan cabinets is subtle, not cold and metallic.

A formal dining room seats 10 and a reproduction of a Mary Todd Lincoln portrait graces the wall.

The marble tile in the foyer is accented with brown tile placed in a diamond pattern. It moves visitors seamlessly into the living room or into the kitchen. The triangle pattern, as well as black and red accents on the furniture and in the artwork, adds elegance and gives the home a cohesive feel.

A double-fronted fireplace can be enjoyed in the living room as well as in the cozy dining area off of the kitchen.

The master suite is located to the right of the entrance. The Hammers purchased an imposing four-poster bed and armoire from the Marge Carson collection. "We liked it because of the size," said Hammer. "It's a big room, and we wanted furniture that wasn't dwarfed by the room." The same colleague who made the pewter bureau in the foyer also constructed the side tables next to the bed.

Hammer said his favorite feature of the bedroom is the fireplace. Above the fireplace is a spectacular painting of red tulips. He said when they bought it, they didn't realize until they got it home how well it went with the elegant bedspread, which is a deep shade of red with a stamped print of gold butterflies.

The master bath has an elegant oversized tub, a heated floor and reverse-hinged mirrored cabinets on the vanities. They can be opened and left ajar to provide a three-sided view.

The darker diamond shaped tiles are repeated on the floor of the master bath.

A diamond-shaped backsplash is above the oven in the kitchen, which is on the other side of the entryway. It is in the same color family as the tile on the floor. Dark-brown granite countertops add a crisp visual interest to the kitchen, which has cabinets galore as well as a casual dining area. Off of the kitchen is another dining area. Near the fireplace, it offers not only a view of the golf course but also is where the access to the greenhouse area is located.

The greenhouse, with its plants and windows, is like a breath of spring. A neat feature is a mechanized cover to help conserve heat in the winter and to shield the plants from the baking sun in the summer.

The yard is Hammer's pride and joy. TV shots of the State Farm Classic showed impressive banks of daisies and other flowers off of the third tee of Panther Creek Country Club. Hammer said he has the blooming timed nearly perfectly for the event. Many of the plants in the greenhouse go outside for the summer for a bolstering shot of natural sun.

Hammer said he landscaped the backyard to undulate down to the golf course and emulate the crisp lawn lines of the greens.

Off the kitchen is a sitting room divided by furniture into two conversation areas. A tiger-striped chair is balanced with green plants in bamboo-textured pots and a giraffe sculpture in one of the conversation areas. The huge ceiling is artistic in itself, with decorative lighting and crown molding squaring off areas into a pattern.

There are two guest bedrooms, one decorated in feminine elegance, the other with a more masculine décor. Hammer's study is off of the family room. It is done in tufted, red leather furniture with dark wood accents.

Four huge flower paintings are on a wall by the staircase leading to the lower level. "That was another thing we wanted in this house," Hammer said. "Lots of wall space for our artwork."

The lower level has a workout area, storage and a cozy bar area that looks like it stepped right out of a country bistro in France.

Hammer managed to pick up two movie theater poster frames that are gold and have running lights around them - the last two made before the company went out of business. The movie posters are important because they are part of Hammer's pride and joy around the corner - a home theater to make any audiophile envious.

Overstuffed leather couches and plush recliners seat 13 or more, who can take advantage of the large screen and the sophisticated surround-sound system designed and installed by a St. Louis firm. Sound boards are installed on the walls to help keep the sound pure. The vibrant blue and red carpeting looks like a movie theater.

In the warmer months, the elegance of the Hammer house is punctuated with explosions of flowers and textured greenery - inside and out. In the winter it is still an oasis of color and green. It would seem the couple has the perfect Florida home magically transplanted to Illinois.


Story published Friday, March 5, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 2 )

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