DENNIS FRINGS is a lawyer turned artist. His wife, Carol Frings, is a lawyer turned mother and chief house supervisor and arranger (for the moment). Even Christopher is the only one in the house who has never been a lawyer, but then he's only a year or so old.
The house is covered in vertical cedar siding, stained a ruddy brown. Its architect, Glenn Chen Fong, has been influenced by some ocean voyage -- the house looks just a bit like a ship. On the south and west the windows are set behind deep boxed overhangs to help shield it against summer sun. The woods almost come up to the house.
The house seems to wrap the people, their art collection, their antiques, and their contemporary crafts all up in a warm, woodsy overcoat.
Fong worked with the Frings in a novel way. He sketched out the basic concept of the house (not including the poolroom), and built them a model. The contractor did the working drawings. Fong, who was busy on another project, stopped by from time to time to see if it was all going well.
You come in on the lower half of a double-decker bridge between house and studio/garage.
The Mexican-tiled foyer opens into the pleasant dining room, with its handmade tables and chairs by David Platt of Wisconsin. On the walls are paintings by Frings and a large assortment of paintings by people he knows and admires. a slanting wall of glass seems like a greenhouse. The dining room forms the balcony of the stepdown living room.
A narrow light well goes up to the third floor from the first floor hall, with balconies on the second and third floor.
The story and a half living room is a step down from the corridor. Large areas of glass on the west and the south coming down to the floor make the room seem open to the forest on either side. a trilangular platform on one side holds Carol's grand piano.
Beyond the piano you can see the natatorium, the concrete block and glass room that holds the 50-by-18 foot heated pool, not designed by Fong, but worked out by the Frings with their contractor, Cornwell Construction.
A large stone fireplace with a wide hearth makes a cozy place to sit. Above it all is a ceiling fan, found by Dennis Frings' father, who had it rebuilt for them. Everywhere you look is the Frings' antique collection, varying wildly from a fine grandfather clock with a movable sun to show the seasons, to their extensive collection of Coca-Cola trays in the kitcen.
The kitchen has a wide open window into the living room. "I wanted it," said Carol Frings. "I hate to spend the entire party locked up in the kitchen away from people. And having to ask afterward, 'What did they say?'"
The kitchen itself seems almost as big as the living room. It has a central counter with a Jenn-Air stove top and grill built in. Two ovens (one unfortunately placed too high), a microwave and a conventional oven, are built in.
The Coca-Cola trays hang on the wall, above the knobby-legged oak table and chairs. "I wasn't sure how I would like these old things in the house," said Wong. "I was sure they'd all fit," said Frings, with the surety of the artist's eye.
A laundry room (too small, says Carol Frings) and a half bath are tucked in off the kitchen.
The open-riser staircase between dining and foyer leads up to the second floor balcony study. Along the bookcase ledge is their collection of funky ceramics. Evan has his bedroom and bath on this floor as do his parents.
The Frings master bedroom has a 12-foot-high ceiling to accomodate their 8-foot-high four-poster bed. Carol Fings made the bed hangings. On the walls are paintings, drawings, two sleds and heaven knows what else. In another corner is a collection of duck decoys. aIn still another is a wicker doll carriage. It seems full, but not a cluttered as you might think.
The third floor has some stained glass made by a friend, Pam Scotton. A guest bedroom has a wonderful brass bed -- Dennis Frings swapped a painting for it. A second balcony sitting room serves as a quiet aerie.
The Frings house so far has seemed fairly energy efficent. The worst air conditioning bill was $120. It is served by three heat pumps, one in the studio. The glass is all thermopane.
The frings figure the 3,100-square-foot house cost them about $45 to $50 a square foot. the 780-square-foot studio and garage and the 1,800-square-foot pool enclosure ran roughly $30 to $35 a square foot. They still havent quite figured out the cost of the pool -- the pool company went bankrupt.