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All in the Timing
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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After a decade in their tiny 1950s-era ranch in Winterset, Devan and Tracy Kaufman decided it was time to start the renovation they’d been planning since they bought it.

“The timing finally seemed right,” Devan laughs. “When we moved in, we said we were going to make all these changes, but we were young and had fun stuff to do, so it just hadn’t gotten done. Finally, between projects for his Kaufman Construction business, Devan tackled his own house a room at a time.

 “The house needed a new roof. As I started on that, I decided to add a big dormer on the back of the attic so if we wanted to finish the upstairs at some point, we could,” Devan says. “The day I was doing the dormer, Tracy and I found out she was having twins.” So he added twin dormers to the front as well. What had originally been a dark, unusable attic area became an extra-large bedroom with its own full bath for the family’s older daughters.

Over the next two years Devan, the Kaufman Construction crew, and family members installed new windows and siding, removed a dilapidated entry, and extended the roof to add a covered front porch and an entry porch with heated tile floors.

In 2006 the Kaufmans began on the interior in earnest. The family room received beautiful new trim and a corner stone fireplace. Then the kitchen underwent the most dramatic transformation. Originally a tight work area with a tiny eating nook, the renovated space is the new owners’ favorite feature.

“The first time we saw the house, we came in through the kitchen,” Katie Michalski says, “and I told Troy, ‘I love this house already.’”

Light maple cabinets and a custom glass-tile backsplash enhance the redesigned, open layout. And porcelain tile floors and double ovens add a high-end look not normally found in older homes.
“We weren’t even looking in Winterset originally,” Katie says, “but everything we’d seen elsewhere was either too small or too expensive.”

Because both Troy and Katie were originally from Van Meter, the couple decided to expand their search south of Des Moines. Their timing was perfect. Devan had just finished the final remodeling project.

“We started remodeling because we thought we needed more space for us and our four daughters. Four years later—the day I finished ripping out the old bathroom, in fact—a house we’d had our eye on for years went up for sale. In the past, my response was always that our house was not ready to sell. ‘Oh, crap. Now we can move’ was my first thought when I saw that sign,” he jokes. The Kaufmans made an offer on that house, Devan and his crew quickly finished the bathroom, and they put their house on the market.

The bathroom is one of the design features the Michalskis rave about. Tracy came up with a great floor plan, and now the formerly cramped 5x9 full bath has a frosted glass pocket door to separate the new shower and toilet area. It also has two sinks in the entry area, one on each wall.

Katie says, “I love that feature. That’s the way Devan handled every room in the house. There’s storage everywhere, so it feels open and spacious.” The couple couldn’t be happier with the result.
“This is so much more than we expected to get, and Devan thought of everything. It’s a 1,500-square-foot home that feels like it’s 2,500 square feet because it’s designed so well,” Katie observes.

This may be the Michalskis’ first home, but Katie says they have no interest in moving on. “We plan to stay here a long while,” she insists, “unless the timing ever works for us to build a place on our own land somewhere.”

And if that time ever comes, she says she already has the right builder. 


Kaufman Construction


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