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An Angular Approach
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
HOME FEATURE October/November 2017
home :: home & garden :: featured homes

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This family’s dream home uses lots of angles and big windows to soak in the views of the countryside.

“Every day we can wake up and look at the pond and rolling hills, and life is good.” Does it get better than that? Not for Clint, a Des Moines physician; his wife, Sara; and young daughter.

The family is ecstatic about their new home in rural Cumming. They have been living there since Easter weekend and are thrilled with the outcome.

They met their builder, Rob Valentine of Valentine Builders, through friends. “Rob built our dream home,” Sara says. “We couldn’t be happier.”

The couple took their time in the entire building process. They formerly lived in Urbandale. They bought four lots in their country location for nearly 17 acres total. “We bought them several years ago while we thought through what our plan would be,” Clint explains. They started collecting floor plans and worked with a designer to mesh and to tweak them before settling on a final design.

“They mostly knew what they wanted right from the start and made great choices,” Valentine says.

“And if we didn’t know, we let Rob offer suggestions because he has been doing this for a long time and has good ideas,” Clint points out. “We relied on his advice.”

Wish list

On the couple’s wish list were an open-concept floor plan, huge windows to soak in the great views on all sides of the home, and angles, angles, and more angles to create the look they wanted. Truly, huge windows define the rooms. The living room/family room, for example, with its 18-foot ceiling is a case in point. Oversize windows set the tone, and clerestory windows above them let in even more light.

“With all the angles of the rooms and all the big windows, there’s not a lot of wall space,” Clint explains. “So we let the views of the landscape of rolling countryside be our actual ‘framed’ art.”

A neutral color palette of rich buckwheat with cream-tone trim reinforces that idea, letting the beautiful outside views attract the senses.

At the front entryway is a focal point, a raised piano room (Sara plays). The room, in black, white, and red, adds a dramatic touch to the more formal part of the home. Like the family room, it has a soaring 18-foot ceiling and clerestory windows to bathe it in natural light.

Sara definitely wanted dark cherry kitchen cabinetry, stainless appliances, dark granite for countertops, and a light floor for contrast. The couple agrees that they didn’t want to follow current trends of gray with white trim, deciding that’s just not their style.

Pop of color

For a pop of color, there’s an iridescent green circular table built into the kitchen island. The green river rock table has a glass top and a rough look underneath. Nearby is a formal dining area, but the family enjoys the round, more casual setting.

A two-way fireplace stands between the kitchen and family room and provides warmth on chilly evenings.

At the far end of the main floor is an office next to the master suite. The master bedroom has four large windows overlooking more rolling hills. The master bath has double vanities, a walk-in shower, an inviting soaking tub, and large closets. From the master bedroom and also from the family room, entrances lead to the covered deck, which takes in broad views.

On the second level the couple let their daughter choose colors for her room, so it’s bright pink for the bedroom and purple for the bathroom. A welcoming guest room offers great views with three windows that form a bay-type window. Another guest room is a possibility, but right now it’s a playroom.

Man cave

On the lower level is Clint’s domain. It features a pool table with a felt from the UAB Blazers (The University of Alabama at Birmingham), his undergraduate and medical school. It contains foosball, a theater room, sports memorabilia from favorite teams and players, and an homage to whiskey (Clint grew up in northern Alabama in the region of the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Tennessee). Sara, originally from Marion, met Clint when he did his residency at the University of Iowa. After living in Nashville for a year of his training, they moved back to Iowa in 2009.

Two spots in the home offer surprises. A built-in bookcase on the lower level is actually a secret door, which goes to the home’s mechanicals and to a utility garage. On the main floor two lucky dogs—a Great Dane named Bartow and a Weimaraner named Oliver—have their own private kennel room. “Yes, the dogs run the house,” Clint says with a chuckle.

Across the south side of the house is a covered deck, entered from the family room or the master bedroom. Like the home's big windows throughout, it offers a spot to savor the panoramic views of the countryside. Beautiful and peaceful are words the homeowners apply to their scenery. "Even winter will be beautiful, we know," they say.

“It was a joy to work on this house,” Valentine says. “Clint and Sara made good choices and made them early, so it was great to work with them, not stressful at all.”

Clint returns the favor. “Rob made the process less overwhelming. It helped that we stretched out the project over time and made decisions ahead of the actual building.”

“From the beginning,” Sara says, “this house felt like home.”

Builder Valentine Builders
Foundation Monarch Foundations
Materials, windows Leachman Lumber
Framer Ladwig Construction
Trim carpenters Valentine Builders
Electrical Miller Electrical
Plumbing Royal Plumbing
Plumbing fixtures Plumb Supply
Geothermal Des Moines Comfort
Carpet, tile Flooring America
Granite Stoneworks
Kitchen design Kitchen Classics
Appliances Nebraska Furniture Mart
Fireplaces, stone Fireplace & Stone Center
Garage doors Amega
Painting Cole Painting
Technology Technology by Design
Landscaping Lounsberry


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