/ by Brendan Blowers / by photography by Kevin Meechan
Ray Foral, Co-Founder of Ridgeline Construction Group, was influenced by the American West while growing up in Eagle, Colorado. “My grandfather was a builder. We built my family home when I was in fifth grade, and another one when I was a Junior in high school,” says Foral who worked in construction throughout high school and college.
Now with over 22 years of experience building high-end homes, Foral still thinks about his grandfather Lloyd Eichler’s legacy. He was a man who believed, “if you really want to do something, you can do it. And if you care about what you’re doing you can do it well,” says Foral.
The grit was put to the test when Foral and his partner Terry Lawler started Ridgeline during the most challenging economic times in 2008 and again in 2011 when they found themselves with only one home under contract when a call led to Ridgeline’s building a lake house designed by Travis Mileti of Mountainworks custom home design.
Featured in our 2017 winter issue, “Home of Dreams” (as we titled it) was an impressive example of design execution at The Reserve. It was a project that Foral believes put Ridgeline in the mix for the most challenging custom high-end residential projects in the area. “I personally think of challenging as fun, so that’s not a negative term,” Foral says.
This stunning Lake Keowee home was completed by Ridgeline just last year. Minimal and modern transitional, it opens to kitchen/dining/great room living that flows with polished concrete under foot and striking views of the lake from the first step inside.
The owner of the lot had already engaged Johnston Design Group to design their 4 bed, 5.5 bath home and asked Ridgeline to build it. “They had a fantastic package pulled together: all of the interior drawings, lighting design, structural engineering, and a specification list for finishes,” Foral says.
As detailed and planned as the design was, Foral’s experience has taught him there will always be challenges to have fun with; the design included a free-standing fireplace with a suspended concrete hearth and matching concrete mantle. A lift inside conceals the retractable television and the whole structure sits above a lower-level wet bar, meaning that wiring, water and gas lines all had to be artfully concealed in the concrete without traversing the exposed-steel ceiling.
Extensive steelwork ties the fireplace to the house and a floating mono stringer staircase to the fireplace in a precise balance of aesthetics and structural engineering.
Custom concrete above the kitchen counter and sink was mocked up multiple times by the Ridgeline team before deciding on the pattern that worked in concert for the industrial leaning kitchen with its walnut cabinetry and large format concrete tile.
Off the kitchen is an outdoor living area with a fireplace and weather-proof television. Even indoors, the natural beauty of the lake is never further than on the other side of the corner windows in the great room and in the primary bedroom suite on the main floor, which also includes a luxury that’s fitting for lakeside activities: an outdoor shower.
While natural light paints its soft shadow angles on the walls and floors throughout the day, the interior lighting gets its finest display at night. A collection of recessed cans, monopoints, well lights, puck lights and tape light from Gallery of Lighting in Greenville illuminates the home whenever needed and from the least expected places. “The ambience is fantastic,” Foral says.
Ridgeline had worked with concrete, steel and lighting elements before, but never in the combination that they’re found in this house. Foral says it was a project that required a tremendous amount of thought before they started on day one.
Never worried it couldn’t be done, Foral knew that if his team stuck to what he calls the “Ridgeline Way,” an unwavering attention to detail and precise organization of team structure, schedule, and budget, then the result would be a home that looks as good on the lake as the lake looks from inside the home.