Hobby Home

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Expressings themselves creatively through real estate.

By Andrea Darr     |     Photos by Paul Bonnichsen

“We like newness in our lives.”

Who can argue with that? Certainly not the owners of this Overland Park residence.

“We have a habit of changing houses every few years,” says the husband, a local business owner. “We live there awhile then we’re ready to do another project.”

Their most recent home sale, however, left them in a position to move faster than usual. “We decided the market was right to sell, and it was; the house sold post haste,” he remarks.

They didn’t want to move into temporary housing while starting a new build, and found this home by Woodbridge Custom Homes underway in Mills Ranch.

“Working with the builder, John Geer, and the superintendent was simple,” the homeowner says. “We’re not rookies at this, but they made it one of the easiest moves we’ve made.”

It was only the second occupied home in the new development, which is just now putting up the community clubhouse and pool. Trails connecting parks and communities throughout much of southern Johnson County are also going in.

“We will for sure use the trails,” the wife comments.

Being active outdoors hiking and golfing is literally half the couple’s life. They own a second home in Eagle, Colo., 30 minutes west of Vail.

“We like the summer in Colorado, primarily because there’s no heat or humidity,” he says.

What drew them to Woodbridge’s spec home was a singular spectacular feature — something also reminiscent of a mountain home, one might note.

“The back of the house is all windows, and you get this tremendous treehouse feel with all the green surrounding you,” she says. “The windows, the views — it all worked for us.”

Even in winter, when all the leaves have dropped, a feeling of privacy persists.

“The tree line is so thick it’s hard to see through to the street behind us,” he says.

John Geer played this dramatic backdrop to his best advantage when he drew up the plans for the acre-size site, tweaking the orientation of the floor plan to most generously capture a picture of nature.

“Most of the time, the great room is positioned left to right; here, it’s front to back,” John explains. “So when you walk in the entryway, you immediately take in the cathedral ceiling and arched windows. This is a case where you build with what you have. It makes a lot of impact from the front door.”

The great room’s ceiling height soars to 18 feet, with wood beams and tongue-and-groove paneling to add interest.

That room is definitely the husband’s favorite.

“I’ve got my recliner here, and with the big windows, it’s a very relaxing place to hang out,” he says.

Though they were sold on this key feature, the deal wasn’t quite done on the details.

“This house was in the finishing stages at the point we came in,” he says. “It was all sheet rocked and tiled.”

Sarah Geer Neligan, the interior designer and builder’s daughter, does all the selections for Woodbridge homes, from the paint to the trim to the carpet. The couple applaud her work and give gratitude for a solid foundation. Of course, being that they both like input in the design of their homes, a few minor alterations were made to suit their taste.

“Most men don’t care, but my husband does; he loves the process as much as I do,” the wife says.

For instance, the fireplace surround and other tile selections were changed out for more traditional stone. “The tile was more contemporary than what we like,” he says.

Being that the couple move so often, they must balance their choices with keeping resale value a priority.

“Because we have this tendency to change houses, whenever we build we always think about what someone else might like,” he says. “We have to feel the house is marketable, but we also want to make changes that we like for ourselves.”

Most of their color choices skew toward a muted palette, attributing a light and comfortable feeling.

“We find it soothing, and we know some people like vibrant colors, but that’s not the way we lean,” she says.

They’re not alone in their preferences for a monochromatic look.

“Our houses have sold extremely fast because they’re pleasing to most people,” he says. “We make it look good to enjoy it while we’re here, and because it’s just two of us and we live lightly, they always look brand new.”

For this reason, also, the couple didn’t have to buy furniture for this house. With the exception of a new round dining table to fit their perfectly square dining room, every piece transitioned from one house into the next.

One personal choice they customized is in the utility area, where they converted two sets of cabinets to contain a dog kennel and feeding station with a pot filler.

From this side of the house, the master suite is positioned for quiet and rest, with a large-scale bathroom, walk-in closet connected to a laundry room and a walk-through shower. A freestanding tub centers the space, ever a reminder for self-care.

On the opposite side of the house, the kitchen is primed for use.

“In general we use the kitchen a lot. If the weather is nice, we do smoked ribs outside or fire up the crockpot and bake in the winter,” she says.

Hallways flank the kitchen, leading to efficient storage stops, a half-bath and a smaller media room.

“We call it the cozy room,” he says. “That’s where you’ll find us watching TV with the dogs.”

It’s a neck-to-neck tie for the wife’s favorite spot with the large covered patio just beyond the sliding glass doors.

“When the weather is warm, I’m happy to just sit there and enjoy the scene,” she says.

“She lies; she takes a glass of wine with her,” her spouse jokingly teases, not much of a drinker himself.

It’s hard not to take in the fullness of the moment with an additional relaxation technique. Why, even the couple’s six-year-old granddaughter adorably remarked when taking the house tour: “Is that where we go to drink beer?”

The whole family — including three grown children and eight grandkids, ages 3-17 — enjoys the house. At 5,000 square feet, with three bedrooms and three baths upstairs, plus a loft and laundry room, there’s plenty to share.

The free-flowing floor plan works superbly during family gatherings.

“We are frequently the ones hosting, so we really like having this space,” she says.

They left the basement unfinished for the future owners to design.

“It’s just the two of us here, and with the bedrooms, it’s quite large anyway,” they note.

The couple admits they aren’t into big social situations or large groups, preferring to stay home and relax. The husband, who may have developed his habit of keeping on the move from his military family upbringing, might be willing to stay longer than the usual three years this time. A year into this residency, what does the future hold?

“I hope we’ll be staying awhile, but I don’t know what that looks like,” his wife says. “We’re happy just enjoying the way it is.”


  • Development: Mills Ranch
  • Builder: Woodbridge Custom Homes
  • Architect: Bickford + Company
  • Project & Interior Designer: Madden McFarland Interiors, Sarah Geer Neligan
  • Appliances: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
  • Cabinets: Profile Cabinets
  • Countertops: Kenny’s Tile and Flooring
  • Doors: Morgan-Wightman
  • Drywall: Wallboard Specialties
  • Electrician: Teague Electric
  • Fireplace: Complete Home Concepts
  • Flooring, Carpeting and Tile: Kenny’s Tile and Flooring
  • Foundation: Johnson County Foundations
  • Hardware: Locks and Pulls 
  • HVAC: Lancaster Heating & Cooling
  • Light Fixtures: Wilson Lighting
  • Lumber: McCray Lumber
  • Masonry: Rock Solid Masonry
  • Painter: J&L Painting
  • Plumbing: Miller Plumbing
  • Roofing: Century Roofing
  • Staircase Railings: Morgan-Wightman
  • Trim Work: Gary Henderson Trim
  • Windows: Andersen Windows

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