March 2017

Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living

A Home Remodel

in North Idaho

Whispers the

Wild Wild West


Growth is nothing new to a Midwest couple who met in the fertilizer business. Mike and Gayle Stegmann planted the first seeds of their dreams out west purchasing a home set on 83 acres just off Highway 53 near Rathdrum, Idaho...

Read the full article here.


Summer 2016

Prime Lifestyle: Edwards Smith Construction

March, 2016


North Idaho Business Journal

February, 2016

Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine:

Welcome to the Blog Cabin

Click here to view the article on pg. 80

JANUARY 8, 2016

Spokesman Review:

Lake Coeur d’Alene home designed by fans of ‘Blog Cabin’ hits the market

A fully furnished and decorated new home with custom artwork and sweeping views of Lake Coeur d’Alene is an unusual real estate listing.


The 4,000-square-foot house on 8 acres hits the market next week. It will be familiar to those who watch “Blog Cabin,” an interactive home improvement show on DIY Network.


Viewers voted on design features for the “modern-style mountain retreat” on the east side of the lake, and the network gave away the house in an October drawing from more than 23 million entries. The New York couple who won came out for a brief visit but decided to sell it.


“People have seen it on TV and online, but no one has really seen it in person except the owners and myself and the builders,” said Mark Hensley of John L. Scott Real Estate. “It’s a pretty unique home.”



Hensley, who helped the producers find the property, plans to list it for $895,000. The three-level house sits atop a knoll near Driftwood Point, a 20-mile drive south of Coeur d’Alene along state Highway 97.


It has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, a game room, a media room, a library, gas fireplaces, an outdoor kitchen and herb garden wall, a hot tub and a four-car drive-through shop. The master bedroom suite features a private deck with lake views, stairs up to a secluded sanctuary and second deck, and a roomy bathroom shower wired for lights and sound.


On a tour of the home Wednesday, Hensley pointed out some of the distinctive features: a tranquil water feature under a wide open staircase, sliding barn doors, and liberal use of concrete, wood and metal finishes. The great room balcony looks over the lower level and out onto a generous southwest view of the lake.


“This is what you’re paying for,” Hensley said in front of a two-story wall of windows.


Most of a 1970s house on the site was torn down for the project, with just a part of the foundation remaining. Edwards Smith Construction of Coeur d’Alene reused materials from the site during the nine-month project.


“Everything in the house has a story,” Hensley said. “It’s just interesting how they tied all that together.”


A collection of pictures in the downstairs family room was fashioned from old, hand-painted “for sale” signs on the property. A pile of Idaho diamond stone became an outdoor patio surrounding a gas fire pit. A metal wall hanging is cut in the shape of Idaho, and the shadow box dining table frames a lit metal “Coeur” sign. The decor includes items from all 50 states.


Albert Zaranka, a retired teacher and pianist, won the grand prize Oct. 27. He and his wife, Ellen, had just moved to New York to be closer to friends and family.


“Timing just wasn’t good,” Hensley said. “It’s clear on the other side of the country. He goes, ‘Mark, I just can’t do anything with it.’ ”


An open house for the property is set for Jan. 16 from 1-4 p.m. For information, call Hensley at (509) 998-7200.


“I don’t think I’ll have a problem selling it, but I just think it’s got a unique story,” he said, referring to the spotlight on North Idaho throughout the ninth season of “Blog Cabin.”


“It’s not very often you get national exposure for the area for that long a duration.”


DECEMBER 31, 2015

North Idaho Business Journal:

Edwards Smith Construction – where value and quality meet

When in search of something beyond the norm, clients often turn to Edwards Smith Construction. “Let us be your standard for comparison,” says Principal Andy Smith. “We bring a level of knowledge to the discussion that helps guide and counsel commercial and residential clients on the multitude of options available to them.” The result, he says, is a space that meets both their short and long-term goals.


Smith believes the quality of an Edwards Smith home or commercial building speaks for itself. He encourages clients to put on their blinders when it comes to the bling and really look at how they are put together. “From foundation to finish, there’s a difference that’s palpable.”


According to Smith, his company strives to ensure the client gets the best value at whatever level – good, better or best – the client desires. In terms of commercial construction, “the goal is to strike a balance between our understanding of construction and the client’s needs, from how the building will be used to how long the client plans to be there.” Recognizing and acting on opportunities for cost savings is a fundamental part of Edward Smith’s decision-making and performance throughout the project. “We manage your resources as if they were our own,” says Smith. This commitment to act in the client’s best interest, he says, ensures superior

quality and service for the best value.


Having recently obtained Passive House builder certification, Smith is pleased to bring this innovation to the area. The company is the first and only builder in North Idaho designated a Passive House Institute US or PHIUS Certified BuilderSM.  The PHIUS standards are not just for houses, says Smith, who suggested Passive Construction Institute might be a more applicable name.


“From a commercial viewpoint,” says Smith, “the year-after-year operational cost savings of a passive building are significant.” Architect Sam Rodell agrees. He is the architect behind the passive-designed Sunshine Terrace Boarding Home in Spokane Valley, WA. Sunshine Terrace saves over $120,000 annually in energy bills. This represents an eighty to ninety percent reduction in energy costs for heating and cooling, which is typical of buildings designed to meet the rigorous standards promoted by PHIUS. When

your goals are superior human comfort AND extreme energy savings, says Smith, passive building makes sense.


Edwards Smith Construction is headed by Jim Edwards who started the company in 1994 and Smith who joined in 1997 and became a partner in 2008. The two owners have over 60 years combined experience in residential and commercial building and remodeling.


“In a world where truth and honesty are becoming harder to find,” says Smith, “authenticity is what sets us apart. We tell the truth and work hard. We do what we say we‘re going to do.”

Edwards Smith Construction nears completion of a new office building in the Riverstone development for Pinkerton Retirement Specialists.


Blog Cabin 2015:

Remodeling for a Mountainside Location

NOTE: We at Edwards Smith are proud and very excited to be a part of the Blog Cabin 2015 presented by HGTV.

Visit for more information, videos, and images on our progress.

An abundance of windows, luxurious outdoor spaces and thoughtful color choices create the ultimate escape for taking in breathtaking views. If you are lucky enough to have a house with a view of the mountains or a lake, such as DIY Network's Blog Cabin 2015, then you’ll want to be sure to maximize that view.


Small windows and puny patios just won’t cut it. Instead, you might want to install large windows, sliding glass doors and outdoor spaces that can accommodate a crowd to take in the view.


At Blog Cabin 2015, the existing house faces southwest and has a view of Coeur d’Alene Lake. But, according to Dylan Eastman, build and design manager on the project, if possible the view should be more southernly to get the maximum vista and the most sun in winter to passively solar heat the house. “In our case, it could be worse,” he says. “The view could have been on the northeastern side of the house where it’s darker and colder light. The orientation of the existing house was part our decision during purchase.”


The new design calls for a lot of windows facing the lake, plus another level with unobstructed views of the water. The design includes large overhangs that allow passive heat from the sun to warm the house in winter and summer, and help keep out too much sun when it’s directly overhead.


Dylan also says that depending on where you live will help determine what type of windows to install to take advantage of the natural cooling and heating without obscuring the view. For example, a south view in a northern climate would need a high-insulated value window for winter that would help cut down the heating loads.


But highly insulated windows normally have a low solar heat-gain coefficient that blocks the sun's heat. In this case, we actually want a higher heat-gain coefficient and a thermal coating on the second layer of glass to reflect the heat back into the space.


Conversely, in a southern climate like Blog Cabin 2014, you want insulated windows with a low heat gain coefficient and thermal coating on the third surface to reflect the hot sun.

Story by Peter Walsh, HGTV




Dylan suggests that a window specialist can provide you with the information you need to make the right window choice for your home and climate.


Furthermore, the lower level of the house has its walls bermed into the hill so there are consistent temperatures in that part of the house. “It doesn’t go over 40 degrees in the winter or over 60 degrees in the summer,” says Dylan.


Andy Smith, a principal of Edwards Smith Construction LLC, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the builder for Blog Cabin 2015 points out that a properly sized and efficient HVAC system is crucial to comfort in a mountainside house on the lake.


“You want it to be comfortable in both summer and winter. In our northern climate, a south facing house will most likely need air conditioning in winter. The sun is low in the sky and the direct sun plus the reflection off the lake into the windows creates a large solar gain.”

 – Andy Smith, a principal of Edwards Smith Construction, LLC


Other factors come in to play when remodeling a mountainside house with a view. “If you have a property with a view,” says Laurie March, design coordinator on Blog Cabin 2015, “you have to assume someone wants to take it in.” She agrees that walls of windows will invite as much of the view as possible to come in to the home.



Nspire Magazine:

Backyard Retreats

Story by Toby Reynolds

Photography by Benjamin Powell and Insight Photography

NOTE: Constructed by Edwards Smith, the ultimate party house was recently featured in the inaugural summer/fall issue of Nspire Magazine.

All colors seem brighter tonight, as if the fire, as if the atmosphere, has power to make things more alive, more raw, more as they were meant to be seen.

It is comfortable here. Even friends feel like family.


My favorite backyard memories begin when, shortly after my first grade year, my parents decided to build a teepee. It was made of thick cotton canvas on an electric sewing machine. Dad painted Native American designs on it, waterproofed it, and we moved into it in late August...

MAY 2014

CDA Magazine:

Fire & Water | Edwards

Smith Construction In Coeur d'Alene

Story by David Kilmer

Photos by Joel Riner & Dustin Weed

NOTE: Edwards Smith was featured in the Summer/Fall 2014 edition of the CDA Magazine. The article features a number of striking images, illustrating the unparalleled master craftsmanship that is Edwards Smith.

There is a certain light on Lake Coeur d’Alene that lingers long on a summer evening, soft gold reflected from mirror-smooth water and deep blue Idaho sky.


And if one is in the right place at just the right time,

 the effect is pure magic.


Such is the feeling when sitting fireside in Mica Bay at the

incredible new lake home built by Ed and Kristianna Mylett.

As evening deepens, the light reflects on copper highlights and flames dance all along the property from fire pits to the


It’s a stunning effect.


“This is our favorite place in the whole world,” Kristianna muses with a contented sigh.


It’s easy to see why.

Here, the couple has created a timeless home that embraces lake living to full advantage, and showcases the talents of some of Idaho's best. As the light fades and the fires blaze, one might gaze in wonder and reflect on what it truly takes to create something of this magnitude.


Growing up, Ed Mylett always wanted to do something special. That drive led to a baseball career, cut short by injury, and then to financial services, where he found he had a knack for connecting with others and helping them reach their life’s goals.


Today, he is a leading business coach and

motivational speaker. He and Kristianna, who were teenage sweethearts, have worked extremely hard to become self-made millionaires, and Ed now shares that vision with others.


They came to Idaho for the scenery, the golf, the water, and to raise their two children in a more safe and sane environment than the one they came from in California. “There are more real people here who value your character and the way you live your life more than the kind of car you drive,” Ed says. “I like driving my truck here. Here, our kids have a better shot of coming out of childhood happily.”


They moved into Black Rock Golf Club initially. But on boat trips around the lake, they found themselves eyeballing various lakefront properties and asking, “What if…?”


The protected cove they picked, on one of Lake Coeur d’Alene’s western reaches, was spectacular – but not just any home would have fit here. A small cabin was the only existing structure.

This home plays at contrasts with graceful ease. It provides

privacy, yet embraces the lakefront lifestyle wholeheartedly.

Every room feels like a piece of art, as visitors often observe, yet it’s supremely comfortable. “We wanted a legacy home that would work long term, but also be ideal for the kids now,” says Ed. “I think it will pass the test of time.” He grew up playing on the summer shores of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. “It was always a dream to have my own lake place someday,” he says. “I never knew it would be to this extent.”


Here on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s placid shores, their children can spend time outdoors, fishing, boating and just

being kids. “It’s a better way of life,” Ed says. “Here, we know our neighbors across the lake better than the people we lived our whole lives next to in the city.”


“From our bedroom, we can hear waves crashing at night, or listen to the sound of the rain,” Kristianna says. “It’s peaceful, just so peaceful. I think you live a lot longer this way."


New Home Buyers Need to Educate Themselves

Story by Lucy Dukes

Coeur d'Alene Correspondent

Building 30 years ago was about service. Now it’s about product delivery. That’s according to Edwards Smith Construction principal Andy Smith, who believes the product delivery approach shortchanges new home buyers.


This is because neither they, nor their builder, have asked and answered the questions necessary to determine what their expectations are — and what products should be selected to meet those expectations.


“The buyer should ask themselves first, what do they expect out of the performance of their house,” Smith said. “It requires the buyer to be educated.”


North Idaho Building Contractors Association Executive Director Larry Jeffres believes the attention paid to the customer is different from builder to builder, though he is not certain a home-as-product approach is prevalent. The success of builders depends on how they present and perform according to their business plan, he explained. Those business plans vary.


However, Jeffres also said that new home buyers should educate themselves.


“We want smart consumers. It helps to define a better market,” he said.


According to Smith, there is a place for building homes as a product, but buyers need to be aware that this is what they are doing. They have to decide how much they want to know.


However, many buyers simply assume their house will work, said Smith, describing a National Association of Homebuilders finding that “there’s a perception that all things are created equal...and all you’re selecting is color or design.”


But the products that go into homes are not created equal, and a new flood of product choices doesn’t mean all of the choices are quality ones. In fact, Smith said the NAHB has found that entry-level products have a 10-year life span.


“We, as an industry, used to build with the idea that it should last for 100 years,” he said.


Shortened product life spans can be problematic when buyers have 30-year mortgages.


“You start to recognize that the cost of that home is not what you paid for,” Smith said.

There are other ways in which a buyer might not get the home she thought she paid for. Systems in the home may not support the space. The furnace might not be big enough to effectively heat the house, which results in higher energy costs and uneven heating. Or the shower may go cold when the toilet is flushed.


“This is not an acceptable standard,” Smith said. “We have these products being put in that are very much in the margins of what is acceptable, and what is controlling is the cost.”


Buyers should think critically in the long term and ask “how does a home perform for you,” he said.


The problem, however, is that a lot of builders may not be able to answer these kinds of questions. According to Smith, many modern builders put control of the construction into the hands of subcontractors without tracking what the subs are doing. The builder should know what the subs are doing, Smith said.


The changes aren’t all bad, though.


On the good side, there have been rapid advances in insulation and heating and cooling systems, and better

pre-finished wood floor products are now available. There have been also incredible innovations in water intrusion technologies. The days of musty basements should be gone, Smith said.


“Today, your basement should never smell that way. It should smell like fresh air,” he said.


Lighting and whole home control systems technology has also leaped forward, with thermostats available that homeowners can control with their iPhones.


“The addition of technology to the process has added a lot of value,” Smith said.


Both Smith and Jeffres pointed to energy efficiency improvements as well. Idaho ranks fourth in the nation for energy efficient homes, Jeffres said.


“Most of that was not mandatory regulation. It was simply good common sense building and constructing a product for the consumer that was better for them,” he added.


A very recent change in response to the recession and energy efficiency needs is the building of smaller homes. Sprawling homes are still being constructed by those who can afford them, but middle America has generally decided it doesn’t need as much square footage as it used to think it needed, Jeffres said.


“We saw this increase in sizes of homes from the fifties into the ’60s that continued on into the ’90s, but we have become more educated and we are better at using space, and energy efficiency has become more of a priority for us. And then there’s the obvious: it’s more affordable,” he said.

MAY 19, 2013

Success Stories:

Edwards Smith Construction

Story by Jacob Myong

Coeur d'Alene Press

From time to time, I'll devote this space to a question and answer session with successful local people who have used the Internet to boost their business.


First up: Edwards Smith Construction.


When and how did your business start?


Jim Edwards: I started building here in 1983 and, after 10 years or so, decided to go on my own, forming Edwards Construction in 1994. Then in 2008, with Andy Smith, we formed Edwards Smith Construction.


What makes you unique among your competitors?


We pride ourselves on our integrity, quality, and a relentless attention to detail. A core philosophy is to never "chase the money." Integrity will never be compromised. We will never cut corners, and we will always provide our clients with clear options. All our carpentry is done in house, utilizing the most highly-trained craftsmen. What we offer is very different than most other builders out there.


Building higher-end luxury homes, if done right, is often a lot more complex than a commercial building. A number of our homes have required commercial grade heating and electrical systems. We navigate our clients through the entire process.


In our industry, integration between the different trades is very rare. The norm is that each part of a home is built separately. Subcontractors are brought in to do their part and there's no communication between them and the next subcontractor. That's when construction defects can happen. Complete integration is what we offer. Andy (Smith) is consistently keeping up-to-date with the latest technology, construction trends, and techniques so we're confident in every aspect of building a home.


We've done small bathroom remodels to multi-million dollar homes and everything in between. It's not the size of the job; it's understanding how things go together. Others rely on subcontractors for knowledge of how things should be done. We think it's important to have that knowledge ourselves and see any lack of knowledge on our part as a disservice to our clients. I've said many times, "We might not make money on this job, but it's going to be done right."


What prompted you to begin working with WSI (We Simplify the Internet) and how long have you been a client?


We wanted local support for our website and Internet marketing. We were struggling with actually utilizing our website as a digital marketing tool. The first company we worked with was out of Montana and the support was out of Boise. It was frustrating. We finally said we need someone who is local, someone we can call who is always available, and can be here in person when needed. Initially, we were calling Sam (Granier) at WSI 3 times a day. He always answered our calls and returned our emails. We've been with WSI nearly 3 years now.

Have you worked with other digital marketing companies? How helpful were they?


Yes. They were Web 1.0 ... old school web development, without consideration for the future of Internet marketing. We ourselves didn't understand how quickly Internet marketing was changing and how our website needed to be a part of it. And we weren't told that "this" wasn't going to work with "that"... for instance we spent money on a video and then learned it wasn't optimal at all - eating up a lot of bandwidth and not working for mobile applications. Ultimately, they built the website but the marketing aspect was lacking. In fairness, the market has changed a lot since our first website was built. They weren't really equipped to address those changes as they occurred.


How much of an impact has WSI had on your overall growth and continued success?


The website has become a positive piece of the puzzle. WSI's help has resulted in more activity on our website. Sam has highlighted the importance of pictures and other visual aspects. We now recognize how powerful pictures are in our industry. We've seen more phone calls, as well as different types of phone calls. Sam has certainly helped build our presence on Facebook and Pinterest, making it easier for people to access our information online.


What specific resources or campaigns have you implemented with WSI?


Website Development, Mobile Site Development, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and Monthly Management.


What are your objectives for the future, as digital marketing and the Internet as a whole become increasingly important for your success?


Continuing to increase our brand recognition and presence in the area. A part of what we were missing when we brought Sam in was a strong regional presence. Our goal was to get local brand awareness. Someone may not hire us right away, but we at least want to be on the radar when the opportunity to bid arises.


More recently, rebranding ourselves. We're more than just the guys that build high-end homes. We've handled big, small and everything in between - always with the same Edwards Smith quality and philosophy behind them. We've been fortunate to work on a number of high-end homes, but at the same time handled other projects including remodels and commercial tenant improvements. No matter the job, the quality of the work will always be Edwards Smith.


Sam Granier and Jacob Myong are Certified WSI Consultants for the Coeur d'Alene Press. Sam has been with The Press for 5 years and is an expert in Digital Marketing. Email Sam at or Jacob at


APRIL 18, 2013

How Values Shape

Edwards Smith Construction

Story by Shane Richard Bell

Coeur d'Alene Press Staff Writer

Bathroom Remodel Sandpoint“Clients need to see and feel the difference in a home built with attention to detail to understand why our approach is better than the standard in the industry,” adds Smith.


“We serve our clients,” said Smith. “If you do everything right from the beginning, you put your clients first and put yourself and profits second, everyone will succeed. Through referrals your business will grow, and you’ll be rewarded.”

Integrity is the mortar between the stones of Edwards Smith Construction’s foundation, a company that has dedicated itself to the service of others for more than 20 years. Jim Edwards started building homes in North Idaho in 1983 and formed Edwards Construction in 1994; Andy Smith joined the company in 1997 and the two formed a partnership in 2008 as Edwards Smith Construction LLC.


The main goal for Andy Smith and Jim Edwards, principals of Edwards Smith Construction, is to first understand what clients value before presenting the options available to them. That understanding comes from talking to clients about their vision, tastes, values and budget.


Edwards and Smith pride themselves and their business on funneling the knowledge of a client’s needs into the very substance that results in pride of ownership, whether that is a remodel, a commercial project, or a high-end luxury home on Lake Coeur d’Alene.


“We align a client’s goals with their values,” said Smith. “And clients have a lot of goals – a home where they can feel safe with their family and know the roof is not going to leak, a home that is going to perform in North Idaho’s climate, a home that is going to hold its value and look good. We are building homes that will stand the test of time. The attention given to the core structure, mechanical systems and water management should always be filtered through this philosophy.”


“And to us, every project is an art form, balanced by the harmonious communication between builder, designer and client,” said Smith.


Before any blueprint of a home is rendered or a foundation is poured, Edwards Smith Construction has a proven process through which a client clearly defines the conditions on which a project is built.


“There are thousands of options. Our job is to understand what makes you tick, what makes you excited, whether that’s a countertop, a style, a color palate or textures. That is the service we provide,” said Smith.

It begins with a conversation.


Edwards and Smith offer a process where a vision and plan are forged, and includes a signature tour of completed projects.  “We want people to see for themselves the kind of quality, detailed craftsmanship and precision with which every project is executed,” said Edwards.

“Our promise is a passion for perfection,” seconds Edwards.


Unfortunately many builders make decisions through the filter of money, says Smith. “For us, decisions are filtered through what is best for the client first, what is best for the structure second, and third, what is best for the company. That is the bottom line.”


To ensure that process comes to fruition, Edwards Smith Construction implements a technique called “enhanced value engineering,” which they define as a combination of technical expertise, plus experience, which will develop the best economy for a particular function. “We don’t just build the project ‘per plan’ as most do,” said Edwards. “Our team is on a continual search to find the best value in the process of achieving our client’s highest goals and maintaining the integrity of the design.”


Clients shape Edwards Smith Construction’s reputation.


“Prospective clients are encouraged to call us any time for client recommendations,” said Smith. “We can readily provide those for you.”


Client Cheryl Shields is grateful for the people of Edwards Smith Construction who made her dream home on Sanders Beach a reality. “The craftsmanship of your team is unequivocal and the finest we have ever seen anywhere. We are so proud of our home and honored to have had you build it for us,” said Shields. “In our opinion, they are the finest builders around.”


Smith is quick to add that it’s a team effort. “It’s a huge team. We can’t do it all by ourselves, and the day we think we can is the day we need to get out of the business. It’s absolutely a team approach. Our job is to coordinate caring people with high-level skills to put together a piece of functional art reflective of the client’s goals.”


Smith says he can spot immediately if a home was built with care and craftsmanship or not.


 “You can feel it. There is an absolute difference in the feeling of the home,” said Smith. “Our homes feel the way they do because the goals of the team - client, designer, builder and tradesmen - are aligned with the client’s values. We experience the journey with you every step of the way, from the first meeting to the moment we hand you the keys to your dream home.”


MARCH 29, 2013

North Idaho Business Journal:

Best Builder - Residential

Best Builder - Commercial

Edwards Smith Construction

Jim Edwards started building homes in North Idaho in 1983 and formed Edwards Construction in 1994; Andy Smith joined the

Staff writer

company in 1997 and the two formed a partnership in 2008 as Edwards Smith Construction, 1112 N. Government Way in Coeur d’Alene.

We asked Andy and Jim how it felt to win, and here’s what they said:


Edwards Smith Construction is honored to be among the Best of North Idaho. Our greatest reward is the appreciation, respect and pure pleasure our clients find in their new homes or offices. Being named Best Residential Builder and Best Commercial Builder and among those with the Most Attractive Building is an added bonus.


We then asked, what makes your business better than the rest? And they said:


Edwards Smith Construction, LLC is a true custom builder serving the residential and commercial markets in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. As opposed to purchasing a product “off the shelf” where choices are limited and questions are discouraged, we offer our clients the opportunity to be involved in the building process from the beginning until the end.  We serve those seeking perfection by offering unparalleled attention to detail. The craftsmanship and beauty of an Edwards Smith structure speaks for itself.

You are married to your contractor long after your home or office is finished. You need to like them, trust them and feel at ease asking questions.


Our goal is an enjoyable building experience, resulting in a long-lasting friendship. Towards that end, we surround ourselves with highly qualified subcontractors because all plumbers, carpenters, electricians, etc. are not created equal. And, we continue to educate ourselves to ensure our old-world craftsmanship incorporates cutting edge technology for the best possible outcomes and solutions for our clients.


Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Learn more about Edwards Smith by calling 208-765-8602 or visiting

JANUARY 30, 2013

Adopt An Appliance, Help KHS

Story by Bill Buey

CDA Press

COEUR d'ALENE - If you're in need of cabinets, appliances - or perhaps a dog or cat - swing by the Kootenai Humane Society Thrift Store this week.


The "Cabinet, Appliance and Adoption Event" is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the KHS store, 1600 E. Seltice Way.


Andy Smith, an owner of Edwards Smith Construction, said the company donated around 400 cabinets, 50 refrigerators, 50 stoves and dishwashers to benefit KHS.


It has been remodeling homes and offices at Fairchild Air Force Base for the past few years, and donating the removed, used appliances to the thrift store.

Smith estimated Edwards Smith has donated 50-100 cabinets, and appliances each month for the past two years. They tend to go quickly. "Usually, there's people waiting for them," Smith said.


Lately, they've removed of a lot cabinets and appliances, which range from a year to 10 years old. They range in different colors, with most in good condition. Good deals await, Smith said. Cabinet prices will be around $25, with appliances starting around $50. They're great for home improvement projects.


"We're having a big truckload sale, if you will," said Smith, also KHS board president. "We thought we'd put more of them out and get them all sold quickly." There will also be dogs and cats in need of permanent homes available for adoption. The shelter has seen many pets adopted lately. In December, there were 68 dogs and 61 cats adopted. From Jan. 1 through Jan. 28, 47 dogs, 46 cats, and 1 rabbit were adopted. The shelter currently has 68 cats and 51 dogs.





Italian Beauty:

Edwards Smith Construction

Story by David Kilmer

CDA Magazine

She is absolutely stunning.


A work of art throughout, a delight in every detail, a grand retreat of perfect proportions - this splendid Tuscan belle on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene.


With her Italian-inspired porticos and Bocce court, her suspended staircase and gorgeous sunken bar, this home is a masterpiece all the way down to the 3,500-bottle wine cellar hidden below her red birch floors.


More than 300 people worked for two years to make this owner's dream a reality, including many of North Idaho's finest craftsmen. Throughout the twenty-three rooms and eight baths of this 13,000-square-foot marvel, their exquisite touches are evident everywhere the guest might turn an admiring eye.


Owner Ron Nichols has long dreamed of a lake retreat like this. Of a place where he and his wife Cheryl could retreat from their busy lifestyles, but stay in touch with the world through high tech means. A place where they could entertain a hundred guests if desired, or simply sit beside one of the home’s beautiful fireplaces and enjoy each other’s company.

And then they rediscovered

Coeur d’Alene. Both had a previous connection to the region. Ron’s family comes from Mountain Home, Idaho, and Eastern Washington, and Cheryl used to live in North Idaho over two decades ago. When two of their good friends moved here, it was time to revisit their roots. They had such a good time that they left one of their wooden boats for their friends to enjoy. The boat became their connection to Coeur d’Alene.


“Those boat trips out on the lake and times spent here with good friends renewed a bond to the area that became stronger with each trip,” Ron says.


The owners’ vision was clear. They wanted a place where they could work hard, play hard and entertain in a home that was warm and comfortable, yet open to the beauty of the landscape.


The building site was a rare find - a blend of forested slope and beachfront within walking distance of downtown Coeur d'Alene. The land held spectacular views, a rich variety of landscape along the beach and a remarkable level of privacy. From the street side, one could drive right by the front gate and never see the house. But in back of the home, where the big windows open to let in the blue skies, wind-kissed waves and green pines of Idaho, the home embraces the out-of-doors.


Architect Rann Haight, a personal friend of the owners hired for his “imagination and insight,” was tasked with the formidable job of doing this site justice. It was important to display the majesty of Lake Coeur d’Alene with strong site lines from every possible part of the home. Ron wanted things “big” – high ceilings, large spaces and big windows. Cheryl wanted it open and warm enough to feel cozy on a winter’s day. They asked for a large home with an intimate flavor.


“They wanted to have those spaces where they could entertain and have people around them,” Haight says.


They also asked for a bit of Italy. Cheryl’s grandmother is Italian, and the owners had spent enough time in the old country to fall in love with its architectural style. Rather than move to Italy, they decided to bring a slice of Italy back to the Northwest.


“We were looking for that feeling we have in a villa in Northern Italy, but with the spirit of place that is so uniquely Lake Coeur d’Alene,” Ron says.

The illusion is achieved in remarkable fashion. The home’s plaza patios, water features, gardens, outdoor fireplaces and Bocce court blend the outdoors and indoors into one fabulous estate. Under the 100-foot-tall Ponderosa pines and tamarack trees, a park-like setting prevails.


Rising up from a waterfall falling over stones, the home’s tall porte-cochere curves in a comely half- barrel toward the massive front door. The door is hewn from mahogany, inspired by the owner’s beloved collection of Italian Riva wooden boats. Eleven feet tall and nearly 600 pounds, the dark textures and craftsmanship of the door hint at the richness within.


And when the front door swings open, a vision of loveliness is framed within its boundaries. The guest can see all the way through the house. Perfectly poised past polished wood floors, stone fireplace and hugely timbered ceiling, through gigantic picture windows, three Ponderosa pines stand watch at the edge of the lake. They could be the subject of an Italian sonnet.


By design these sentinels of the shore were kept within the sightlines, three simple trees dictating the entire footprint of the home. It’s a graceful touch to welcome the guest across the threshold.

On one hand, the blue tones of the lake are an ever-present companion from nearly every room. On the other, the front walls of the home protect and preserve the privacy of its inhabitants.

The round entryway makes a statement of individuality and style from the beginning. Intriguing masks from around the world greet the guest, selected from Ron’s extensive collection.


Through the entryway, the home opens up into a wealth of rich woods, stones, plasters and leather furnishings. Here in the great room, the stone fireplace reaches twenty-four feet upwards. Across the birch flooring, large glass doors look out over a stone patio to the lake. The lofty ceilings are pinned by timber beams. These beams were added after the home was built – swung in through a window and fastened into place – then hand-distressed and stained. The result is a dramatic ceiling that enhances the effect immensely. One gets the idea that such huge timbers would be found inside every wall.

Wood plays a huge part in this home. Much of that inspiration came from the owner’s fleet of wooden boats, which led to the bold styling of the mahogany crown mouldings, trim and casework. In all, the home showcases mahogany, birch, walnut, Italian olivewood, madrone burl and vertical grained fir.


The leather furnishings, dark woods and fabrics create comfortable spaces. Most of the walls are done with a Venetian plaster style that adds dimension and warmth. Tall ceilings and large pine trees visible out most of the windows require sturdy and properly dimensioned furniture to match.

The home was eighteen months in the planning and twenty-two months in building. As word of the project spread, it became rightfully known as "The Big House."

To pull off a project of this magnitude, the owners needed a very unique team of professionals. They started with Steve Torres of The Torres Group as their owner’s representative and construction manager. He was asked to find the very best talent available, and then meld this group of architects, consultants, designers, suppliers, builder and owners into a cohesive group.


Building began in December 2002 and wrapped up in November 2004.


“We were stunned,” says Ron of walking into the finished home. “We had an amazing team – the best owner’s representative anyone could ask for, who found us the region’s best builder and a group of craftsmen who were remarkably creative and dedicated.”

Owner Ron’s business schedule precluded frequent trips to the site. He visited just seven times before seeing the finished home unveiled. He watched his home built remotely via web site, where he could track daily progress from a web cam mounted 75 feet above in a tree. His builders took more than 8,000 photos during the process.

His wife Cheryl committed nearly three years of her life to the project, making frequent multi-day trips to the site. She was an invaluable asset, often locating just the right piece or finish.


A home of this scale and design involves so many details that communication was key. There were thousands of decisions, consultants from California to Idaho and sourced materials from all over the country.


“The owners entrusted us with a remarkable task,” builder Jim Edwards says.  “We knew it would require the finest group of professionals and craftsmen we could assemble. The owners allowed those professionals to do what they do best.”

This talented group collaborated to solve problems and create new solutions. Everyone worked together to form some truly unique new features. "The owners gave us remarkable trust and confidence," Torres says. "They often asked, 'What do you think?' and then empowered us to be at the top of our game."


A prime example is the massive helical stairway curving from the great room to the second floor with no supporting columns. The structural engineer said it couldn’t be done. In the end, the craftsmen used a single curved beam, which didn’t flex a bit when several big guys bounced on it as a load test.


The curved railing is remarkable, its grand newel post comprised of nine square bars of iron twisted around one another. To accomplish this feat, ironworkers made the metal glowing hot and then twisted by hand to create the unique shape.


"It's just one of those touches that really do turn this into a spectacular house,” Torres says. “It’s those little details that happen over and over again."


The sunken bar is simply a work of art. The olivewood bar counter, its curve inspired by the bow of a graceful Riva boat, was created by bending hundreds of individual strips of wood to shape and then gluing them back together. The result is vastly pleasing to the eye and the touch.


The sweeping lines of the bar are echoed through the kitchen with its vast granite countertops, three TVs and custom range hood. A gas-lit fireplace of stone and plaster separates the kitchen from a formal dining room surrounded on three sides by floor-to-ceiling windows.


Even a glass door in the kitchen is curved, which led to a unique conundrum. To create the curve, builders had to ship the door to one of two facilities in the nation that roll glass. The first door broke. It took eight months to finally get the door back again, curved to perfection.


The home’s hardwood floors of birch and walnut are meant to look like they’ve been here for generations. It took four men more than three months to hand scrape and micro-bevel the edges of each board. Like the rest of the fine details throughout this home, the effect is subtle yet resounding.


"We started by saying we're building a great house. We made some changes and we said we're building a really super house. By the time we were finished, it had evolved into just a spectacular house because of everybody's input,” Torres says.


One of the major changes was creating a basement to hold the home's extensive mechanical system. With the addition of the basement came the opportunity to do something special.

Entrance to the lower level is gained either by stepping behind an Italian mural into the elevator, or down the stairs behind a secret bookcase door. How cool is that? Once the guest steps through the door, everything changes. The difference in design creates the sensation of traveling back in time as the guest descends. The drywall has been glazed and antiqued. The oak trim and wood stairs beneath are nicked and worn. There is the feeling of going down the romantic hallways of a hacienda.


The passage leads to a wine tasting room, furnished with what appear to be very old wooden tables, chairs and side cabinets. They are - and they aren't. In clever fashion, antiques have been matched with a brand new piece. The new cabinet was distressed to match the table, and to the casual observer the illusion is complete.


By tapping a few keys on a control panel, the owners can coax the sound of violins from the hidden speakers in the walls, completing the charming tableau. They put on their favorite music while sipping wines from the next-door cellar.


"With this basement, we were able to create this really cool space that kicked things up a notch," says Torres with a grin. Everyone loves this space, and it's easy to see why.


Behind the tasting room, a hallway and gallery space leads to the brains of the home. This mechanical room, looking like a set from Mission Impossible, houses the security network, climate control, communications and video surveillance.


It has clean, precise lines, bright gray floors, shiny white walls and chrome diffusers on the lights. It’s one sexy mechanical room.


"The owners are very technically savvy," Torres says. "They wanted a smart house that was easy to manage, had sophisticated systems made simple by technology, and made a large home as manageable as a small one."


The owners can control and monitor the home with a few clicks of the mouse, even while traveling remotely.


Environmental systems heat and cool outside air to precise temperature and humidity, filtered to "perfect comfort." The home entertainment network has centrally distributed video and audio, XM radio, satellite radio and TV, as well as a music and DVD library.


The fully automated lighting system controls various moods with a built-in memory. Twenty-five miles of wire link it all together, and four computer servers make it work.

And then comes the piece de resistance, one of the truly fantastic features of this fine home.


Here in the wine cellar, 3,500 bottles are arranged in artful perfection. The presentation is superb. Lighting changes at the touch of a button in the cool climate-controlled space, where the wines are cataloged according to regions and varieties.


Custom Built Wine Cellar - Coeur d'AleneThe home continues to amaze as its details reveal themselves.


In the stairway railings, guests will see a truly special touch that, as much as anything, defines what this home is all about. The railings are supported by life-size hands emerging from the walls.


Cast permanently in bronze, they offer perpetual support. They turn a mere architectural detail into a work of art, a conversation piece and a lasting reminder of the hands that built this house – the hands of the owners, architect, owner’s representative, builder and superintendent.


"The owners came to us and said, 'when the house is done, your contribution will disappear,’” Torres says. “We will always have the work of the craftsmen on display. We want a tribute to the management team. Something in the house that lasts."

Creates a spa-like atmosphere. His and hers vanities of alabaster-like counter tops at different heights match the owners’ varying needs, and overlook a stone-floored, covered deck with unobstructed lake views.


In the master bedroom suite, a see-through limestone fireplace separates bedroom from bath. A walk-in, door-less shower under skylight with remote shower controls creates a spa-like atmosphere. His and hers vanities of alabaster-like counter tops at different heights match the owners’ varying needs, and overlook a stone-floored, covered deck with unobstructed lake views.


Recessed TVs in the bedroom and vanity are linked to the house audio system, providing instant access to television, DVD library, XM radio and music CD system. An adjoining small laundry and kitchenette lead to a second set of private stairs, making this suite self-sustaining.

One fabulous feature is the custom-fit comfort in kitchen, bath and even closet spaces. Design professionals actually studied the owner's lifestyle and preferences, taking inventory of the minutest details. The amazing master suite closet, which has the area of a small apartment, is perfectly fitted to the owners' lifestyles. The designers knew how many pairs of socks, how many shoes and how many hats belonged here, and created space for each.


Throughout the home, the owners compromised on their individual preferences in style. She prefers a more casual approach, while he favors a more formal design. In creating their private office spaces, they used these differences to good advantage.


From her office next to the home's private gym, she overlooks peaceful pine trees from her balcony. The more casual style shows through in the cherry casework, birch flooring and craftsman-style casework.


His office is on the main level with vaulted ceilings and large windows facing the lake. This is the office that means business. The difference is clear upon entering the room with its walnut floors, sharp edges and mahogany trims. It is a masculine space with sports memorabilia and a scale model of one of the owner’s wooden yachts.


A mini-bar and kitchenette, as well as a private bathroom, complete this office space.


Despite its simple lines and forested surroundings, this is one very high-powered office. Satellite web link enables high speed, encrypted connection for the owner to conduct his energy utility consulting business nationwide.


Wireless technology allows both owners to stay connected to the web, printers and data servers from any room in the home, or even any corner of the property.


One night the owner was working under deadline, bothered by the fact that he would be missing a full moon rising over the lake. Realizing the possibilities of his new office, he moved out to the beach side fire pit, built a fire, picked a quiet jazz recording on the sound system and lowered the volume coming from the rock-disguised speakers so he wouldn’t disturb the neighbors. It was a magnificent moment as he sat under the full moon by the fire, preparing his PowerPoint presentation. When he was done he hit ‘Print’ and from 100 feet away, looking through the darkness of his office, he saw his printer come to life.

“It was a dream come true,” Ron says. “It is the perfect office and the ideal environment for creativity. Work and pleasure combine very quickly with this technology, this site and this home.”


The house has plenty of room for vehicles and toys in multiple garage spaces. A detached three-bay garage offers pull-through access with doors high enough to pull in with a boat and trailer. On the home's other wing, a four-car double wide, double-deep attached garage ensures plenty of covered parking.


Cheryl’s Koi pond is a favorite retreat for owner and guest alike, and also draws the attention of a pair of osprey nesting nearby.


Italian Style Home - Coeur d'AleneThe grounds include a sunken garden paved with large flagstones. There are two fire circles, one gas and one wood-burning. A stone wall connects the grounds with the beachfront. The home's sound system carries into the backyard, with seven zones hidden in rocks and other garden features. From any zone, an owner or guest can change the music with the tap of a button or two.


One of the all-time favorite outdoor features of the Tuscan retreat is the Bocce court and patio, where guests can enjoy the traditional Italian lawn bowling game.


They have experience magical moments where indeed owners and guests seem to have been transported to the Old World, times when strains of Vivaldi or Belleni are floating over the grounds as the Bocce balls collide.


The owners have been generous with their magnificent retreat. Soon after completion, they hosted Tails to Tuscany, a fundraiser for the Kootenai Humane Society. During the event they also raffled off a dinner at their home for twelve, and a supper cruise in one of their Riva yachts. They realize the house is a gift they can enjoy sharing.


After construction was complete, the owners hosted dinner for everyone who had worked on the home. It was a chance for woodworkers, electricians, masons, and every one of the 300 people who had a hand, large or small, in creating this place. They brought their families to show them what they'd been working on these last two years.


"Every workman, every subcontractor, every craftsman made this home a success,” Torres says. “There is a remarkable level of craftsmanship in North Idaho. Everybody had stock in this house. It's the best of everyone's effort. Together, they thought of things nobody else had thought of."

Perhaps an inscription on the patio fireplace says it best.


During construction, one of the carpenters scribbled a unique hieroglyphic on the floor. The design was covered up, but the builders remembered. They picked an unusually shaped rock that didn’t fit anywhere else. They had the carpenter redraw his mysterious symbols and cut them permanently into the rock. Then they put a tarp over the inscription and lied like crazy.


"Cheryl kept wanting to see the fireplace under that tarp," Torres says. "We told her all kinds of stories."


Finally, the day came when the home was finished and the inscription could be revealed: "This house was crafted with love for the beautiful woman who lives in it."


"We told her, 'That's for you, from all of us.' It was great because we actually made the owner cry.

That’s as good as it gets.”

Not long afterward, Ron gave them each a handwritten note. It said simply:

I have dreamed my whole life about having this home. Thank you for making my dream come true.


“This was the ultimate in custom home building with a team approach,” says builder Jim Edwards. “We had clients with a vision, an architect who translated that vision to form, and the right team to bring it to reality. We thank Ron and Cheryl for the opportunity to have been a part of this extraordinary project.”

Architect - Rann Haight


Construction manager/owner’s representative - The Torres Group, Inc.


Builder - Edwards Construction, Inc.


Landscape Design - Clearwater Summit Group


Lighting Design/Home Automation - Juarez Design


Home Automation Controls - Vantage, Inc.


Network Design - Media Joe


Kitchen/Bath Design - MK Designs


Interior Design - Lisa Staprans

Audio/Visual - Audio Obsession


Interior Plaster/Exterior Finishes - Able Wall


Exterior/Interior Stonework - Delevan Masonry


Wine Cellar Design - Vintage Wine Cellars


Flooring - Country Plank and Metro Design


Painting - Frank Smith Painting


Front Door - Aageson Millworks


Wrought Iron - Blackrock Forge and Cimmaron Lofting


Casework - Tapley Cabinet Works