When you walk into a Kodiak home, you don't notice the details at first. You get an overwhelming sense of richness, of natural beauty and elegance, a taste that is decidedly European but also very Rocky Mountain. That's by design. Steve Luczak, owner of Kodiak America works diligently to make sure that each and every detail works together to turn every custom home into a work of art. "I would rather build a slightly smaller home and make sure that the quality is unbeatable from top to bottom. I mean if we're using Pella windows in the kitchen, we need to use the same windows in the garage."
After spending 27 years building custom homes in Southwest Wyoming, Luczak recently returned to Salt Lake City to be closer to his family and his roots. "I've been in the construction business for years, but I know that my passion is for custom homes. I love working with people to find out exactly what their dreams are for their home and bringing that vision to life. There's something very satisfying about that. I'd be bored stiff building track homes," he laughs.
It doesn't take long to see that Luczak's special gift is his attention to detail. Because he only builds six to ten custom homes a year, he's able to spend about 95% of his time on site, overseeing each home from inception to completion. Kodiak homes mixes a lot of natural materials, like slate, knotty alder, river rock, travertine, and cherry wood to create a rustic mountain feel while maintaining an elegant European flavor. Luczak is meticulous about making sure the color palette of the home is consistent throughout. For instance, the rick colors in the slate tiles in the kitchen can be found in the garage floor covering, the stones on the outside of the home, and even in the patio stones...even if he has to ship them in from out of state. "It may seem obsessive to some people, but I truly believe that extending your color schemes like this allows you to feel like you're outside even when you're sitting in the kitchen. It's subtle, but well worth the extra effort." Luczak also likes to mix woods, sometimes as many as four or five in one home, with different types of stone to give the homes a very textural feel. He also carefully monitors the paint on the walls, using European plaster and several coats of faux finish to get the perfect tone and texture.
This attention to detail doesn't stop there. Luczak proudly shows off the basement of one of his Glacier Park homes. "A lot of builders save the good stuff for the upstairs. I think the basement of a home should be just as nice as the upstairs and it shouldn't feel like a basement. We use 10- foot ceilings so the downstairs feels open and roomy, and we make sure that there are courtyards and unobstructed mountain views just like the upstairs. If there's a sub-zero fridge in the main kitchen, the downstairs wet bar has a smaller version of the same."
Another of Luczak's passions is maximizing the space. Rather than create formal receiving areas, he uses high ceilings and great rooms to create gathering areas that are reminiscent of a French Chamonix lodge. Luczak would also rather design large rooms that can be easily re- purposed so whether you want a pool room, an exercise room, a study or another bedroom, the room is large enough to accommodate a number of functions.
Even developments, like Glacier Park at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, are designed to capture that upscale mountain feeling. "When we found this, we decided to make sure the lots are large and spacious. It doesn't seem right to me to have a million dollar home with neighbors so close you feel like you're in an apartment complex. Plus we plan our development so every single home will have unobstructed views of the mountains and a certain sense of privacy. I think it's important. Even though all of our homes are completely custom, some may have pools, some may have indoor racquetball courts, some may have giant craft rooms. The outside design is thematically consistent, lots of timber, stone and natural materials to make sure the whole community feels unified."
"I just don't think I could be one of those contractors who never even sees the houses they're building. I'm too hands-on. I like to be personally involved with every step. I like to be in control. Does that make me a control freak? Maybe, but more than that I think it makes me a better home builder."