Cribs: A Sunbury Oasis

There’s not a whole lot going on in Sunbury, Ohio.

It’s a small town – not too far from downtown Columbus – but when you’re driving down its long, winding roads, it seems like you couldn’t be closer than a million miles away.

Everything there just seems pretty, well, country.

That is, until your winding road brings you to the home of Tim and Kelly Friar, a country house with an undeniably citified heart.

Set about halfway back into the 19-acre property, framed perfectly amidst the tall trees, the house certainly stands out from the more traditional homes in the area, but, though undeniably unique, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t belong.

In fact, it probably couldn’t, and definitely shouldn’t, belong anywhere else.

The house was originally built in 1986 by an architect aiming to create his dream home, an oasis of modern style hidden in the farmlands of Central Ohio. It’s an almost completely open building, loft-like, with windows so perfectly placed that each view looks like a painting of a landscape, changing subtly as the sun crosses the sky.

Though the builder passed less than two years after completing his project, the house was not left in hands unworthy of his vision. The Friars, who have resided in the Sunbury home for the past 15 years, have transformed the house into a place of their own, but kept alive the spirit of brilliant design intended by its creator.

To no one’s surprise, of course, as design is as ingrained in the life of Tim Friar as oxygen– a graduate of CCAD, Director of Business Development for a local design firm, and owner of Grid furnishings in the Short North.

It was its modern style that beckoned the Friars to their home. The International style of architecture, which highlights unadorned functionality and clean lines over ornamental excessiveness, posed as a sort of challenge to Tim, a challenge that drew he and Kelly from their previous home in Clintonville.

“We didn’t know a lot about International style homes at that time, other than the fact that it was a modern home that you don’t see much of in Columbus,” Tim said. “You might see houses like this on the East Coast, or even in cities like Minneapolis, but definitely not in Clintonville.”

There’s an overtly minimalist aesthetic apparent throughout the house, a calming bareness which mimics the vastness of the outdoors.

“It’s basically a big, open loft in the country,” Tim Friar said. “We love it. People say, ‘How do you live without curtains?’ Well, nobody’s going to see us. So we get to look out.”

The house’s interior resembles the near-stark openness of an art gallery. Each and every wall is painted white, with pieces of original art, much of it local, sharply contrasting against them.

There are none of those unnecessary decorations from Pier 1 Imports here, no tchotchkes collecting dust on cluttered shelves. Just the essentials surrounded by art.

It is the perfectly combined aesthetics of minimal design, fine art, and the great outdoors, which truly come together and make the house thrive.

The unadorned architecture allows the art to shine, the art fills the space with the beauty needed to keep the white walls from boring the eye, and the windows bring in the light, which radiates through the open space and brings warmness to the Friars’ home.

In other words, while the house may look like it belongs in a city, only by emerging from the county could it become the brilliant architectural spectacle, and comfortable home, it is today.

“It’s like being in a bowl of green,” Kelly said, looking out one of the house’s many, many large windows. “It’s comforting and it provides really great sanctuary outside and inside here. Even on gray days, it’s like being in a very quiet cloud.”