A Dream, Realized
Prescott woman designs—and loves—the house she’s envisioned since childhood
When she was a child, Lyndsie Milisen spent her school recesses poring over her mom’s Architectural Digest magazines while her friends played foursquare.
As an adult, all that studying has paid off: Lyndsie and her husband Rob recently finished building her dream home, which they share with their four children who range in age from four to 16.
With a place for everything, and everything in its place—most of the time—the Milisen family home combines all the charm and coziness of a Victorian-era farmhouse with the thoughtful touches that make life run smoothly for a modern family of six.
The High Valley Ranch development, where the 3,307-square-foot Milisen home is nestled into the forest, promises “your own private wilderness.” And that’s exactly what it delivers: dappled sunlight and views of aspens and Ponderosa Pines, interrupted only by wildlife: deer, hawks, and woodpeckers, to name a few.
Lyndsie loves the classic, and she said she wanted the house “to look like it has always been here.”
While NJ Builders completed construction in March of 2017, its story begins years ago.
Lyndsie grew up in a Victorian house in Tennessee, and loved architecture and design. When she and Rob, a Colorado native, decided to find their permanent home, they knew it had to have trees. They chose Prescott, Arizona—just a spot on the map—and at first, Lyndsie’s heart wasn’t here, even though she loved the downtown and the forest. She wanted to move somewhere greener, like Vermont, and buy an old farmhouse.
Meanwhile, about 18 years ago, she began to collect magazine clippings: photos of ideas and concepts she’d like to recreate in her own dream house … whenever she found it. She stored them in a binder for future reference.
After a few years living in Prescott, Lyndsie and Rob realized they could create their dream surroundings, locally. They bought a house in a different development. The neighbors were wonderful and the location was incredible, Lyndsie said, but something was missing. She found herself constantly watching the real estate market to see what was for sale, but never buying because nothing felt just right.
Finally, she found a lot in High Valley Ranch, where the carefully planned building envelopes meant that not only would the Milisen family have trees and privacy, but they’d also have the opportunity to build the house of their dreams.
They hired NJ Builders and got to work.
Classic Tastes with a Whimsical Side
Lyndsie’s classic tastes, inspired by the Victorian house she grew up in, are reflected in everything from the wide baseboards to the crown molding, and traditional window casings to the mostly-white color scheme.
The house strikes a balance between feeling open—thanks to ample space between areas—and providing separate areas—like the formal dining room and the kitchen.
Many of the furnishings are vintage or vintage-look, like the Danish modern rosewood dining table and the Chinese screen print on the dining room wall. Still other pieces are classic, yet modern, like the leather sofas in the living room.
While Lyndsie said she likes white because it makes her feel calm, she added fun with some whimsical, colorful pieces, too.
An antique sofa embroidered with peacocks sits at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom, and a Lucite ghost-style chair sits next to the dresser.
Delicate, antique-finish chandeliers hang in the master bedroom and bathroom.
Turning Desires and Vision Into Reality
Lyndsie had a short list of longstanding desires—a porch swing, a foyer table, an outdoor fireplace, and a big range. These deliver character and story, making the house a home.
The design includes a special spot in the foyer, just for the table Lyndsie always imagined having, and a wall specifically for the Mathushek piano, a “honky tonk saloon piano” Lyndisie’s mom gave her.
The kids’ christening gowns—two of which are more than 200 years old, passed down through the generations on Rob’s side—hang in custom-made frames on a wall made just for them, and a clawfoot bathtub, similar to the one in Lyndsie’s childhood bathroom, serves as a focal point in the guest bathroom.
The Perfect Backdrop for Family Life
This home is built for a family, and all the fun and activity that comes with raising four active children.
The Milisens opted to lay engineered oak hardwood throughout the main living areas. Lyndsie calls the flooring, “our big splurge,” and Rob said it’s the best investment they could have made.
The living room, with high ceilings, exposed beams, and a wood-burning fireplace with a brick surround and floor-to-ceiling paneling, sandwiched by built-in shelves, provides plenty of room and comfort for gathering, talking, and relaxing.
Just beyond the living room, a spacious deck offers an outdoor fireplace (another item on Lyndsie’s must-have list), a full-sized couch, a full-sized dining table … and a stunning view of the forest.
Alyson Davis, project coordinator for NJ Builders, said the team worked to make the deck an extension of the living area.
The kitchen is the heart of any home, and when it comes to building the kitchen for a family of six, that equates to space, function, and durability.
Lyndsie loves cooking—which is why she chose a 48-inch range with a griddle and a double oven underneath. She also loves an uncluttered kitchen—which is why both the paper towels and the microwave are positioned under the counter.
At one end of the kitchen, there’s a separate space for small appliances like the slow cooker, the juicer, and the stand mixer. Between the kitchen and the formal dining room, there’s a butler’s pantry for the coffee maker and adult beverages. The cabinets for the dishes are out of the way, so that when their oldest son puts the dishes away, Lyndsie said, “He’s out of my cooking triangle.”
A huge island with room for “all the kids and a friend or two” takes center stage.
The kitchen countertops are black, honed satin-finish granite, and the island features white quartz countertops.
Beyond the kitchen, the mudroom features generous, cubby-style cabinets—one per child—for backpacks, umbrellas, hats, and shoes, as well as upper cabinets to store seasonal gear.
Lyndsie’s office is on the other side of the mudroom and laundry area, and it, too, features counter-clearing organizational measures like a printer drawer and built-in file cabinets.
Rob’s office is in a separate room at the front of the house, and, painted a deep green, it’s the only room in the house that isn’t white.
“This is the room where I relax,” Rob says. “It’s where I’ve got my art and all my stuff. This room is peaceful.”
Rob built the floor-to-ceiling cabinets on the wall opposite the desk, and behind the desk, he hung a painting from his grandparents’ cabin. Lyndsie completed the room by choosing vintage and vintage-look furniture.
The entire downstairs is dedicated to the kids (with the exception of the unfinished basement, which serves as a practice room for The Gurley Gurls, the band for which Lyndsie is the drummer).
A large playroom with a huge couch opens onto a covered deck. “The boys’ wing”—two bedrooms and a Jack-and-Jill bathroom—is on the right, and the third downstairs bedroom and another bathroom are on the left.
Although Lyndsie let the boys do most of the decorating in their bedrooms, she had input in a few places. For example, for the son who likes to bring in all the things he finds outside (mostly rocks and sticks—Lyndsie drew the line at a deer leg), Lyndsie bought a barrister bookcase to display his treasures. Lyndsie and Rob’s daughter’s bedroom is furnished with the birds-eye maple furniture from Lyndsie’s childhood.
The Finer Details
Rob said that with the design of this four-bedroom, four-bathroom house, “Every little thing is well-thought-out.”
He said the kids are more relaxed now, because everything has its place, and the whole house has “a cozy, calm feel.”
As she finished unpacking her things, Lyndsie said, she found that binder where she’d been collecting magazine clippings. She was surprised to see that so many of the ideas she’d loved are now reality in her own forest home.
Still, some things are different—they turned out even better than she expected. She learned to trust the process.
Having Alyson to bounce ideas off of, and the NJ Builders team to bring this dream to reality, made the process of building her dream home really fun.
She said, “I’ve been planning this house for a really long time,” and added that she sometimes feels like a bit of a recluse because she spends so much time there.
One important realization Lyndsie has come to: “The grass is greener where you water it.”