Last Fall, which now seems like a lifetime ago, I heard from a previous client that they were thinking of selling the house I helped them update and building a new home in the northwest corner of Clive, Iowa. In our early conversations, the plan was to sell their house, move into a rental, and prepare to build in 2019. I was eight months pregnant at the time and thought that sounded perfect. We would have over a year to work on the design, and I would be on firm footing as a new mom before they broke ground.
It didn’t actually work out that way. My clients had an opportunity to purchase a lot in Angel Park, which was the planned site of the Des Moines Home Show Expo 2018. This particular lot was adjacent to the incredible biking trail system we enjoy here in Des Moines with a fabulous view as well. They had already selected a builder – K and V Homes – so all we needed to do was get the house designed, built, and furnished by the beginning of July 2018.
I think my clients would agree that being part of a home show was a pretty wild experience. Building a home is always emotional. Building a house on an accelerated timeline, knowing 12,000 people are going to be touring it, was kind of crazy.
The clients toured other houses built by K and V, which served as their inspiration for the exterior. We also looked at house plans online that met the criteria for the lot and the spaces they needed. At the top of their wishlist were a large open kitchen, a luxurious master suite, a formal dining room, and a separate office. We worked with Plum Design to merge the inspiration photos and spatial elements into a truly custom home design.
Dining Room and Office
When you first enter the home through double doors, the dining room is on your left and the office is on your right.
We added an applied molding detail to both rooms painted in white semi-gloss to match the trim. This architectural detailing adds so much character but doesn’t feel as heavy as beams or coffers on a nine-foot ceiling.
We incorporated touches of black throughout the home to add contrast and a little drama. The black French doors with beveled glass panes, which lead into the office, are painted to match the office cabinetry. Polished nickel hardware adds a touch of sparkle.
The amazing ladies at Pottery Barn at the Jordan Creek Mall helped us with styling the office for the Home Show Expo. Olson Larsen Gallery provided much of the artwork seen throughout the home.
My clients can close the French doors when they need a little privacy, but the glass panes help the room to feel more expansive and connected to the rest of the home.
From the entry, you can see right out the large great room windows to the wooded bike trail. We used dark stained hickory for the flooring throughout much of the main level. The hickory has a subtle open grain that is enhanced by the dark stain. It feels incredibly rich and elegant.
The ceiling in the great room is a full two-stories, and we ran the stacked stone fireplace all the way up to serve as a dramatic focal point for the open great room. My clients wanted built-ins on either side of the fireplace, but they didn’t want them to feel heavy or distract from the fireplace. We arrived at this minimal asymmetrical design after several rounds of revisions.
We selected the Samsung Frame TV for over the linear fireplace because we didn’t want to break up the beautiful cream and beige stone with a big black box. I’m so happy that they chose this TV because it doesn’t detract from the restful mood of this room the way a regular TV would have done.
The kitchen is my favorite room in this custom home for many reasons. First, it’s size is appropriate to the scale and stature of the home. Second, it’s placement in the home allowed for it to transition seamlessly to the outdoor entertaining space with a door to the deck and large windows behind the sink to let in light and the view. Third, it is truly a cook’s kitchen with professional grade appliances, tons of storage, and an enormous island.
My clients challenged me to design a huge island with seating for six with two distinct zones for cooking and eating but they did not want the dining area to be at table height. I admit that I was initially flustered by this request. Then they found an inspiration image of a two-height island with a very slight drop down. I suggested increasing the thickness of the main level countertop to further distinguish between the two zones. This design detail allowed us to create a 13′ island with seating for six, topped with stunning Parthenon Quartzite, without seaming the stone. We did have to cut down the counter stools to accommodate the reduced height of the dining countertop.
The curved cabinet style range hood was custom built for this project. We selected soft gray, beveled glass subway tiles for the backsplash. They pull out some of the gray veining in the Parthenon quartzite and add a subtle depth and dimension to the room. I love this modern interpretation of such a classic design element.
This kitchen is completely open to the living room pictured above with only a change in ceiling height to distinguish between the two spaces. We incorporated this cabinetry style hutch as a transition piece between the kitchen and living spaces. It’s also convenient to the dining room through the short hall you can see on the right.
We tiled the back of the glass front cabinet to make it feel like the glass subway tile was flowing up through the cabinet from the backsplash. I think this little detail helps this piece to feel more special than just more kitchen cabinetry. The glass cabinet and backsplash are also fully lit, which creates some really pretty sparkle with all of the glassware.
The master suite in this home is truly a dream. The bedroom gracefully accommodates a king size bed with large nightstands, a dresser, and a long bench in the window nook with plenty of circulation. The windows look out over the bike trail and into the trees.
The bedroom is at the back of the house, while the closet looks out onto the front, with the bathroom in between. In the photo below, you can see the connection between the three spaces through the sliding barn door.
The large bathroom features an enormous walk-in shower, free-standing tub, double vanity with a makeup table, linen closet, and separate water closet. My clients expressed that they used their time getting ready each morning to connect with each other before beginning their busy, often hectic, days. I wanted this space to feel like a special retreat – light, soothing, and relaxing.
The layout of this bathroom meant that quite a bit of the floor tile was visible. I designed the ceramic floor tile to be laid on a 45-degree angle, which creates movement through the linear space, and incorporated a marble mosaic accent. The wainscot tub surround echoes the detailing on the dining room and office ceilings.
Love this marble detailing in the shower.
I designed the vanity with custom mirrors trimmed out to match the cabinetry so that the entire wall would feel like one unified element. This also allowed me to drop the mirror at the makeup table so that my client can use it while seated.
Jack and Jill Bathroom
My clients have two little girls, and they share a Jack and Jill bathroom on the second floor of the house. We wanted their bathroom to feel youthful and fun but also have staying power so they won’t get tired of it as they get older.
We chose pale gray cabinets and paired them with white marble look quartz countertops and gray ceramic floor tile with a linen texture. Oversized crystal knobs add a whimsical element to the cabinetry and echo the crystal detail on the sconces.
We used an economical subway tile for the shower surround but installed it in wide gray and white stripes to make it more interesting and add some pattern.
At the back of the niche, we installed a fun marble penny round that incorporates the gray and white from the field tiles. The curved shower rod helps the standard tub/shower combo to feel more spacious, and a classic hotel style shower curtain never goes out of style.
In the lower level of this home, we designed a compact bar for entertaining, which connects to the patio. It’s adjacent to this gorgeous pool table, which is the centerpiece of the lower level. On the opposite side of the pool table (not shown, is a two-sided stacked stone fireplace) with another living area behind it as well as a regulation shuffleboard table.
The tile we selected for the bar backsplash is another favorite design element in this house. It’s a carved stone tile from Walker Zanger that coordinated perfectly with the quartz countertops. It unifies the wall cabinets and adds texture and dimension to the wall behind the television.
Olson Laren Gallery provided both of these fabulous art pieces. The piece on the right is a photograph of the Des Moines skyline feating 802 Grand by Justin Rogers, and the one on the right is a sketch layered on architectural vellum by Timothy Frerichs. You can see more work by both artists on the gallery website.
Powder Room & Mud Room
The powder room and mudroom are situated behind the kitchen and conveniently located off the garage. I am a big fan of making the powder room accessible to guests but not right in the middle of things. We wanted this powder to feel special and little different from the rest of the house, so we installed a floating vanity in a textured finish and topped it with the same Parthenon quartzite as the kitchen. Floating the vanity makes this small room feel bigger by allowing your eye to continue under the cabinetry with the flooring. The texture on the sconce is a reference to the textured cabinet doors and capiz mirror frame.
The mudroom is a simple but functional spot that connects the home’s laundry, pantry, and powder room to the garage and serves as the family’s main point of entry. We left the bottom portion open for easy shoe storage.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour! There were so many more spaces in this home I would have loved to photograph. If you’d like to see the photos all together, please visit the portfolio page.
The clients started this project with the intention that this was their forever home, and they envisioned their children growing up here and then returning with their partners and families. While this house may seem large for a family of four, we designed it to accommodate large family gatherings and host multiple grandchildren in the years to come. I am incredibly proud of the results we achieved together with K and V and all of their partners, vendors, and subs.
This house was one of six that were available for the public to tour as part of the Des Moines Home Show Expo 2018. It won first place for its kitchen, master suite, livability (tie), and craftsmanship, among several others, and it received the Best in Show award. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who helped with all of the finishing touches and staging, especially Angela and Kristin at Pottery Barn Jordan Creek, Skylar Adamson of West Elm Des Moines, Mark Goodrich of Olson Larsen Gallery, and Jessica Rae.