Nice article regarding Dr. William Wickwire’s residence, aka “The Wigwam”, featured in the Orange County Register this week. His home has been featured in Architectural Digest and I know he’s put his heart and soul into it. Congrats!
Big Bear Home is a Winter Retreat
By JANET ZIMMERMAN, OC Register
In William Wickwire’s residential existence, it’s all about the details. Every detail.
His near-obsession with design minutia extends well beyond nicely framed vistas and modern conveniences, though his Big Bear Lake home certainly has those.
The Wigwam at Eagle Point is a 5,000-square-foot shoreline retreat that is both homey and sophisticated, a perfect mix of Ralph Lauren Home and Tom Sawyer’s Island.
Wickwire’s touch is everywhere, from the home’s wooden doors and heavy latches he had handcrafted in Santa Fe, N.M., to guest bathrobes and light switches emblazoned with his custom Wigwam insignia.
There’re also the Ann Sacks and Batchelder tiles he hand-picked and arranged for some of the surrounds on the home’s eight fireplaces, and the red trim paint matched to the shade used on local Forest Service cabins in the 1920s.
“There’s not one thing, not a doorknob, not a latch, not anything in here, that I didn’t design,” he said.
Wickwire is a dermatologist with several offices across Southern California, including one in Big Bear Lake. He has no formal design training, but draws inspiration from his extensive travels.
Wickwire has other homes – in Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Hermosa Beach – in which to hone his natural talent.
It’s his attention to detail that quickly puts guests at ease.
A visitor on a cold, snowy day was greeted by a roaring blaze in the living room’s double-wide fireplace, covered floor to ceiling in smooth rocks gathered from the Santa Ana River.
The Wigwam “experience” starts at the circular front drive, where visitors pass a giant pot metal moose and a rustic gazebo with willow settees. They are treated to a view of the lake and soothed by the sounds of a recirculating rock stream and Big Band music wafting from the property-wide speaker system.
It took Wickwire years to find this site. In 1995, he bought his first Big Bear home on the opposite end of the street. He quickly realized he wanted a more desirable location, with sunrise and sunset views, isolation from the neighbors, and a parklike setting.
He found it on Eagle Point, on a half-acre lot with 60 trees.
Wickwire spent 18 months designing the home and almost three years overseeing its construction, completed in 2004.
Most of the original 1,200-square-foot house became the garage. That’s not that big considering it houses a couple of Segways, Vespas and a rare 1947 Alvis Woodie from England. The space doubles as Club Caribou for Wickwire’s annual Christmas party, complete with colored lights and a disco ball.
Wickwire took care to make the home blend into its surroundings by finishing the outside in cedar stockade siding milled in Idaho, which was inspired by a trip to Lake Placid Lodge in New York.
“I wanted the house to look like it had been here since the 1920s or ’30s,” he said.
He also staggered the two levels to keep the home from appearing too overwhelming.
The entry, a bedroom suite and game room-den are on the perimeter of the second story, overlooking the open-plan downstairs. In a clever repurposing, vintage skis stand on end, blocking the view of the upper level’s gym equipment.
In the spirit of the early days of Big Bear, Wickwire went for a lodge feel, with high ceilings and walls covered with distressed knotty pine and alder and a massive chandelier made of antlers. A handmade birchbark canoe hangs from a wall over the living room and the mantle over the fireplace sports carved trout that appear to jump from its surface.
Wickwire has always loved Big Bear, even as a boy, when his family stayed in a friend’s modest cabin for winter skiing.
The Wigwam rekindles his early days of Indian Guides, refrigerator box forts and exploring Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland, he said.
That’s not to say there aren’t luxuries, and plenty of them. In the living room, a big-screen TV is hidden inside a custom cabinet camouflaged with accents of twigs and bark. And the best seat in the house is a Wickwire-designed red leather sectional sofa with white leather piping.
The living room opens onto one of the best rooms in the home, an all-season porch perfect for daydreaming or reading. Intimate and cozy, the room has a stone fireplace, sky lights and infrared heaters for winter. In summer, the windows can be replaced with screens to catch the breeze coming off the lake.
Beyond that is the deck and the authentic Adirondack lean-to – complete with a bed for afternoon naps lakeside. Just steps away are the fire pit and boat dock.
Back inside, the downstairs includes a well-stocked wine room. The onetime butler’s pantry has pine cabinets dressed up with twigs and birch bark, and unique stools made of water wheels from Thailand.
Each of the three downstairs bedrooms opens onto a courtyard with a cozy seating area.
The master suite is an octagonal room with a lodgepole pine bed and a view of the lake. The adjoining bath is chock-full of amenities, including a fireplace, steam shower, TV, refrigerator, towel-warming drawer and bidet.
But perhaps the best feature is the view from the Jacuzzi tub – of the lake and Juniper Point beyond.
“I’m big into views and pathways,” Wickwire said. “I spent a lot of time figuring out what you see when you come in a room.”