Design on course

Text: R.J. Weick

For Paul Mooney, owner, manager, and founder of PRM Custom Builders in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a successful

project is one that aligns in terms of client vision, overall design, level of finish, and its setting; where the process supports the residential custom build journey as homeowners seek to invest in a home that supports their architectural vernacular tastes and personal lifestyles. To him, it is an experience that often starts with open and clear communication. It is about listening to clients to define design, style, layout, and fine details; and informing them throughout the process of the decisions that need to be made, when to make them, and how those will impact timing and cost. Though it is a process that often presents variables and challenges, it is also an exciting and personal one, where the relationships developed with homeowners and industry professionals can last long after completion of a custom home.

“Myself and the PRM team take a lot of pride in what we do, and I am proud of the work each and every one of us puts forth in every project,” Mooney said. “We strive to do things at a high level, in every aspect, and that starts with setting clear expectations, defining roles of everyone involved in the project, and listening to your clients by taking their lifestyles into consideration in every aspect of the home.”

PRM Custom Builders is a full-service residential building company specializing in custom, luxury home building and renovation work, established in 2009. The company, which strives to enhance the lives of its clients throughout the entire build process, is committed to developing and preserving lasting relationships, leveraging its communication-driven approach to foster strong working relationships with homeowners, architects, designers, and other trade professionals.

For the last 13 years, PRM Custom Builders has developed a portfolio of custom residential work across architectural vernacular and style from contemporary and modern farmhouse to craftsman colonial throughout southeastern Michigan communities, such as: Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Franklin, Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, and Detroit, among others. Each space is meant to be a reflection of those who will ultimately inhabit and experience it, serving as functional inspiration for homeowners or clients. Led by Mooney, who is a licensed builder and realtor with nearly two decades of experience in the luxury home industry, PRM Custom Builders offers services like renovation and historical restoration as well as detailed site analysis, design and planning, cost analysis, and construction management.

“A home needs to function at a very high level in order for it to serve the daily needs of its occupants and if you don’t think about all the details and how each space is going to be used and function, if those details get overlooked, if those details are not well-defined, you can be left with a homeowner having a bit of regret or ‘I wish I would have done this,’” Mooney said. “You never want to be in that position after you made the investment you made in building a large custom home.”

For the clients of this coastal-inspired residence set on the rolling bentgrass undulations of Oakland Hills Country Club’s North Course, the vision was to build a home with an inviting, casual atmosphere and interior layout that supports an avid golfing lifestyle. Defined by an exterior materiality of stone and cedar shingles, the home exudes waterfront, colonial style with its gambrel rooflines, classic white windows, and expansive views of the golf course beyond.

Mooney noted the property had initially been acquired by PRM Custom Builders with the intention for future development and while the team had spoken with several prospective clients, the goal was not to build a home for future resell in mind, but rather work with the right client to envision a timeless residential style that would be contextual to the Oakland Hills Country Club community.

“When we ultimately met our clients, they had a vision of wanting a casual lakefront or

coastal style home, which transpired into the shingle style, Dutch Colonial architecture in the finished home with the cedar roof, the gambrel roof accents, and with the sweeps and the brackets. It’s a timeless look and I think it is pretty unique to the area,” Mooney said.

“The goal wasn’t to just come up with some standard design; we wanted to build something that was going to be unique, appropriate for the location, and also specific to our clients’ lifestyle and their design tastes and preferences. They are avid golfers, they spend a lot of time with their family golfing in northern Michigan, golfing here, and so it was important that the style aligned with their lifestyle,” Mooney added.

Established in 1916, Oakland Hills Country Club is a private golf club in Bloomfield Township featuring two, 18-hole courses designed by Donald Ross. Its South Course, which officially debuted in 1918, has hosted 17 Major Championships and welcomed well-known players like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Ben Hogan to its fairways that has earned a moniker of “The Monster” by Hogan after it was modernized and strengthened by Robert Trent Jones in 1950.

With its two courses and its clubhouse’s stately presence, Oakland Hills became a national golf destination that witnessed the highs and lows of golf history, from the drama and thrill of the game itself and the delight of recovering South Course revisions long thought lost to time. While a devastating fire burned the historic clubhouse to the ground in February 2022, plans are already in the works to invest roughly $80 million in re-building a replica of the iconic design.

For this home located on the North Course, its site is a landscape characteristic of the undulations inherent to fairway and greens design, featuring a direct view of the 17th hole. The course, which pivoted at the onset of the depression to operate as a semi-private club known as North Hills Golf Course, was also redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in the late 1960s as it became a private course for Oakland Hills once more. The golf course architect, whose philosophy was “to make every hole a hard par but an easy bogey,” reimagined the North Course with changes like reversing the first and ninth holes with the 15th and 16th holes, designing roughly an additional 70 bunkers, and lengthening the course from 6,300 yards to about 6,668 yards.

Mooney noted the midcentury ranch and pool that had existed at one time on the property had been removed, and the new footprint of the custom build used 110 feet of the 150-foot-wide lot.

“We were working with great soil. It was very sandy, and we had good support from the neighborhood and the community. Neighbors were excited that we weren’t just looking to build something on a cost-basis to maximize profit. They were excited we wanted to build something unique and special for the right client. Everything aligned in terms of the design, the level of finish, the style of the home, the architecture—it all fit perfectly within the setting,” Mooney said. “I think that really shines through to me as being a major success within the project.”

Through a series of design meetings, the collaborative team of PRM Custom Builders and Brian Neeper, AIA, of Brian Neeper Architecture P.C. in Birmingham, Michigan, curated a vision that reflected a number of style and material inspirations, and functional elements. On the exterior, its materiality is textural and natural, blending granite stone sourced from upstate New York, cedar shingle siding, colonial-style white windows, and a navy hue with slight gray undertones. Its south-facing façade also features an expansive bluestone patio that is mirrored on the front of the home and carried throughout its interior in the mudroom and front entry, blurring traditional boundaries of indoor and outdoor spaces.

“That natural stone aesthetic carries through, from the outside through the inside,” Mooney said.

“The views are just really spectacular. There is no separation really between the course and their backyard, so the idea with the design of the house, too, is we wanted to maximize the views whether you are in the kitchen or dining room, great room, or main-floor primary suite. The vision was to maximize those sightlines throughout- out the home as well as on the upper floor where there are three guest suites that are south facing overlooking the North Course,” Mooney added.

Its interior features roughly 6,100 square-feet on the main and upper levels with an additional 2,200 square-feet on the lower level, which is complete with a workout room, full bedroom suite, media area, and finished bathroom. There is an inviting and casual element throughout its interior footprint, as timeless features are warmed by natural materials such as the vertical, riftsawn white oak doors, solid poplar in the trim and moldings, and engineered rift- and quartersawn white oak hardwood floors. Custom cabinetry designed and built by Cole Wagner Cabinetry LLC of Rochester Hills, Michigan is paired with Ashley Norton hardware, and the eight-inch-wide, hardwood floors were finished and distressed onsite by PRM Custom Builders.

Mooney noted the casual layout following an east-to-west concept features a sizeable mud- room with a large walk-in closet, main floor laundry and half bathroom, a kitchen and casual nook space, informal dining room, and a screened porch beyond that overlooks the golf course.

“The owner has five children and design questions that came up during construction were: were they going to entertain, and when they have their family in town for the holidays and throughout the years, where would they gather for dinner? So, we had the concept of a kitchen with a casual nook overlooking the golf course with a three-sided surround with glass to maximize the views. Style-wise, the home is casual,” Mooney said. “They wanted more of a day-to-day, casual living, but yet still maintain a very high-level of function and very high-end materials throughout the home.”

The home also has a two-sided bar that carries into a custom-made, interior wine room featuring thermal-insulated glass, chemically treated metal framing, a spray-foamed perimeter to ensure it was 100 percent air-tight, and externally conditioned to create an overall clean look and special finish. Its floor was also finished with bluestone and reclaimed barnwood on the walls, infusing natural materiality into the space, and custom-made wine racks with integrated low voltage lighting.

Other features of the home comprise a formal great room with 11.5-foot-tall ceilings, shiplap and beadboard elements, a staircase that serves as a visual connection and main feature, an office space, and a primary suite overlooking the golf course, located opposite the garage and utilities area. The primary bathroom is also complete with a steam shower, heated white marble floors, and pearlescent tile in the shower.

“Everything is built and finished at a very high level and yet there is still a casual element within the home that carries through, which I feel is very much reflective of our clients and when you can signify your clients’ personality and their lifestyle and you can signify that within the home that you build, within a special location such as this on Oakland Hills, it made for a very successful project,” Mooney said.

This project was also featured in The Golf Explorer: Michigan’s Journal to Incredible Golf’s sister publication, The Custom Build, presented by Great Lakes By Design in 2022.