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Built with Love
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
FEATURED HOME JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012
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New sunroom has a special meaning for a family in Boone.

The materials list for a remodeling project in Boone included the usual wood, nails, drywall, and windows. At the top of the list, though, was an intangible but integral part of the job—love.

The new sunroom in the home of Carolyn Clark and her sons, Jonathan, 15, and Benjamin, 13, honors Derrik, her husband and their father. Derrik, a strapping 6 feet 3 inches and 240 pounds, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“In November of 2007 he had a work injury and became 43 percent disabled. In March of 2009 I noticed that his gait was off,” says Carolyn, principal at Boone Middle School. The two had met in high school in the Quad Cities and married young. He was diagnosed in April 2009.

He never complained, Carolyn says. “He was one of those ‘it is what it is’ kind of people. He faced it head-on, with a glass-half-full attitude. He always said he was the luckiest man in the world.”

Before his death a group called Project 52 dedicated a maple tree in Derrik’s honor in their home’s backyard. Normally a tree is planted for the death of a child. In this case, however, it was planted for the Clark sons on April 10, 2010, in honor of their father’s impending death, which happened on January 24, 2011. “Derrik was here for the tree dedication, and that made it all the more special,” Carolyn points out. Derrik was 39 when he died.

The sunroom addition—a so-called “glass room”—came about as a way to create a sanctuary to view that tree. Before, the only way to view the tree from inside the house was through the kitchen window above the sink. Carolyn and the boys knew they wanted something more.

“We knew what we wanted, and Derrik helped in the vision of the room,” Carolyn explains. “I talked to three companies, and Harold Cross of Archadeck of Central Iowa was the only one who really listened. He really got what I had in mind.” The result is a 20x20-foot sunny room on the east side of the home, and it is bathed in light from banks of windows on three sides. The windows on two sides are nearly full-length, giving an open, airy feel. The Clarks are expecting that snowflakes will give a spectacular show out those windows.

Double Fireplace

In addition, there’s a new double fireplace with one side in the new room and a completely different look on the living room side. “We had always wanted a fireplace. The fun part now is that people ask how the builder added a second fireplace. That certainly tells us that the new one on the existing room side looks as if it’s been there forever,” Carolyn says.

The living room side features stacked stone for a little more traditional look. The fireplace on the sunroom side is faced with circular-shape, shimmery tiles.

Cross says, “People probably don’t associate Archadeck with room additions. But our focus is exclusively ‘outdoor living’ with the various types of rooms, spaces, and accessories we design and build. Some of our rooms and spaces have roofs, walls, and windows, and some don’t. Carolyn’s room certainly does, but it is designed to provide a sense of being outdoors in her backyard. Our decks, patios, and porches provide that in other forms. We enjoy working with homeowners to develop the right outdoor living spaces for their needs and lifestyles.”

He says the work from start to finish took about 13 weeks. “Carolyn had a complete vision of what she wanted. She was so easy to work with.” With the vaulted ceiling plan, Cross was able to add a bank of three custom trapezoid windows above the east bank of double-hung windows, which coordinated with the look of the rest of the house.

Doing the double fireplace worked out well, Cross feels. “I love it that visitors think the one in the living room was already there. That’s exactly what we wanted to happen.” Cross and his crew removed an original deck on the back of the home, reworked it and the stairs to it, and still ended up with a deck area large enough to hold some outdoor furniture.

“The whole focus is that maple tree, and the family can watch it change through the seasons and grow over the years. What a symbolic purpose for a room,” Cross says. “Carolyn’s decorating vision made the room pop, and it turned out so beautiful.”

Color Scheme

The room’s color scheme, based on a small painting made by an artist in Fort Myers, Florida, was carefully chosen. The painting was from a spring break trip with Derrik’s brother and sister-in-law after Derrik’s death; it depicts palm trees and a sandy beach. Walls are a soft creamy yellow like the sand, and the accent color is green like the palm trees. Slip-covered chairs and window seat cushions pick up the green, as do ruffly lime-color pillows.

The circle motif is repeated in the room, and it takes its cue from a whimsical chandelier, which Carolyn found on the Internet. It has silver and blown-glass balls with colorful circle bulbs inside. From fireplace tiles to circles in the upholstery, the round shape prevails in area rugs and accessories.

In starting a project with such an emotional component, Carolyn explains, “I knew we wanted quality and a caring partner for the development of our project. We truly got that with Archadeck.”

While the ordeal of losing their father has been so painful, Carolyn says that her sons have more empathy for others with problems, so that has been one positive in the experience. “Plus, they were able to see up close and personal what true love is all about.

“This room is part of the new beginning for the boys and me. Derrik would love it because he was our healer,” Carolyn says. “You just never know when you are making a memory.”

 

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