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A New Life, A New Adventure
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
FEATURED HOME MAY/JUNE 2010
home :: home & garden :: featured homes

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There’s a philosophy that when one door closes, another opens. Ask Jackie and Bruce Kuehl of Waukee about that. They know. Both lost their longtime spouses a few years ago. Jackie’s husband Chuck died of prostate cancer, and Bruce’s wife Becky Jo perished in a home explosion.
Mutual friends introduced them three years ago, and six months later they married. Their “meant-to-be attitude” helped them through grief and loneliness.

Bruce farmed near Waukee, and Jackie’s family operated a horse ranch near Cumming. “On a Sunday drive, Bruce said we should build a house,” Jackie explains. “I said I knew the house plan, and I knew the builder I wanted, Harrington Homes. My first husband and I purchased a home built by Ben and Terry Harrington, but when his failing health prevented us from moving, the Harringtons graciously took back the home. I knew I still loved the plan, and I appreciated their building skills.”

Bruce and Jackie purchased two adjoining lots at Painted Woods, between I-80 and Waukee, and enlarged and tweaked the Harrington plan. At the same time, Bruce, who didn’t have children, became the stepgrandfather to Jackie’s five grandchildren, four girls and one boy. “Talk about jumping in feet first,” says “Papa Bruce.” “This all has been a wonderful change in my life.”

The wooded property called for huge windows to take full advantage of the view. “We’re both country people, and we need space,” Bruce says. They own a total of 4.8 acres, complete with a meandering stream.

Once Harrington dealt with realigning the utilities from two adjoining lots into one, along with factoring the slope of the terrain, the project took off. “We have built several variations of this plan, so we were very familiar with it, including eight different plates or ceiling heights on the main floor.” He opted for in-floor heating and foam insulation, which he feels is more efficient than geothermal heating and cooling.

“We kept making changes, but Ben is so patient,” Bruce points out. The Kuehls changed a guest bedroom into a main-floor office because the empty nesters don’t need another bedroom on that level. The lower level offers two guest rooms.     

Open floor plan
The home’s rich-looking brick and stone exterior with classic carriage-style garage doors is just a hint of what’s inside the walkout ranch with about 5,000 square feet. Jackie says the couple enjoys entertaining often, both in casual and more formal ways. The open floor plans on the main and lower level accommodate that beautifully.

Jackie incorporated many of her previous furnishings into the lower level. Since Bruce had nothing left after the home explosion, they started with a clean slate on the main floor with the help of Rita Peltz of Imaginations Design Studio. Jackie calls the style rustic Old World.

Peltz says, “It’s hard to define because it is casual, yet refined. Jackie and Bruce love texture in fabrics and on walls, and they live in every space of the home.” She says the Kuehls’ selections of fabrics, furnishings, rugs, and accessories reflect their love of nature.

“The combinations of formal and informal work so well, such as a more formal camelback sofa across from an earthy stone fireplace. It’s really a charming country presentation.”

The ceiling in the living room and barrel-vaulted entryway is 13 feet, which lends a spacious feel. To the right of the entry is a library, made more interesting by a huge interior window with a rustic wood overlay. The window, ordered in Scottsdale, Arizona, actually looks into the living area and opens up the room to light. “I can be in the kitchen and look into the library,” Jackie says. “We really like that aspect of opening up the space.”

Enormous untreated windows in the living room look to the east out over the property. The stone floor-to-ceiling gas-burner fireplace has a mantel made from walnut from a tree from the Napa Valley housing area west of Des Moines. Hand-scraped hickory floors add to the natural look.

Mellow feel
The Kuehls credit SJM Construction of Grimes with much of the wood detail that adds a mellow feel to the home. “Throughout the home, they used hand-distressed rustic alder. In the office, for example, for the built-ins they created interesting cabinetry to hide the computer hardware,” Bruce says. In that room, too, the tray ceiling with paneled wainscoting gives an interesting visual to the room.
Vanities and cabinets in the master bathroom, including a pop-up makeup area and a jewelry closet for Jackie, give a custom touch. At floor level are built-in and ventilated cabinets for dog beds. Intricate porcelain and ceramic tiles add exquisite detail.

Resources

PLAN, BUILDER Harrington Homes
CABINETRY, VANITIES, TRIM
SJM Construction, Inc.
FLOORING & TILE Flooring Gallery
INTERIOR DESIGN
Rita Peltz, Imaginations Design Studio
FAUX PAINTING Stonewall Ltd., John and Jill Kaldenberg
PAINTING Cole Painting & Decorating
LANDSCAPING Perennial Gardens
DECK
Brian Pender
STAIR RAILING Artistic Iron Works
MATERIALS Beisser Lumber
COUNTERTOPS Iowa Countertops
WINDOWS Pella Corp.
HARDWARE Strauss Lock

 

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