2006 Homes Of The Year

(page 6 of 7)

living roomHomes Of The Year: $300,000 to $500,000

Contemporary Country

The Tulipanas bring their urban tastes to a rural area. Ever heard of Marmoliem? It's just one of many forward-thinking and innovative ideas they incorporated into the home.

Kevin Tulipana builds, remodels, creates, reads, thinks and accomplishes so much without a rushed or busy sense about him-all in such a short period of time-that the only reasonable explanation is that he grows extra hours during the day. With that said, in what must only be explained as an uncertain period of free time between fulfilling his duties as a full-time physician and the dad duties that come with having four children-all younger than 10-Kevin Tulipana began to design his own home. He sketched it out, looked at blueprints of a house that looked nothing like the house he was looking to build, and created formal plans of his own. Oh, yes, and the granite, zebra wood and black iron basin in the guest bathroom-he made that in his spare time, too.

"I've always played around with drawing," Kevin says. "I went through a thousand stock plans and had a vision of what I wanted. It's sort of always been a hobby of mine."

Kevin and his wife, Kara, aimed for a country setting for the site of their home. Each having grown up in separate rural areas, they wanted to live as far outside the city as possible, and their Rogersville location reflects their roots even though their home has a contemporary urban style.

When the couple lived in Iowa, Kevin began remodeling their 1970s home room-by-room, learning as he went. Once, in a weekend, by himself, he replaced the house's plumbing.

"I came home after being gone for two days, and he's like, 'It's done,'" Kara laughs. "The water pressure was much better."

By learning on that old house, Kevin garnered enough knowledge that when it came to building this home, he tried not to pay for anything he could do himself. His insistence on being a part of the building process seems to have very little to do with cost efficiency. He does actually enjoy it.

The work doesn't look like any do-it-yourself project you'd imagine from a novice-part of which is due to Kevin's talents, and the other part of which is due to David Duncan, who played the role of understanding builder.

Duncan himself is a story. Holding a master's degree in mathematics and physics and having once been employed by a Washington, D.C., think tank, he decided to go into building when he and his wife moved to Springfield. He had always had an interest in building, and he took the opportunity to give it a shot full-time.

Duncan says because of his mathematics background, he can easily visualize three- and four-dimensional concepts from homeowners' ideas. The Tulipanas and Duncan never hired an architect. They worked from those blueprints that Kevin created with a lot of research and a little bit of guesswork.

During his 12 years building experience, Duncan has seen a lot. His crew has built houses that came to him drawn on paper napkins. Some builders prefer the homeowners to be hands-off, some prefer they be intricately involved. Duncan says he has had it both ways and really does well with either.

The contemporary design of the house lent itself to a lot of square rooms and a tall, open main living area. The 14-foot floor-to-ceiling travertine fireplace separates the kitchen from the living room and is the only divider in the largest section of the house.

"I really like the kitchen," Kara says. "I really like the unimpeded movement. I like the idea that there are few walls."

 Looking to draw a warm feeling in the airy space, Kara wanted bright colors. She wanted to incorporated red in some way and was able to do so with the quartz half-circle island top in the kitchen and also with wall paint.

In addition to the reds, there are yellows and oranges that fill the main floor and contrast with the dark wood cabinets and charcoal-gray tiles of the kitchen. Many of the bright colors were drawn from paintings done by Kevin's artist brother, Paul.

The Tulipanas weren't afraid to use color, and they weren't afraid of new products. The kitchen floor is Marmoliem, a completely natural linoleum product that is usually put to use in industrial applications. (And if you've eaten at Fish, you've seen this type of flooring.) Kara likes the soft-padding feel and that it's bactericidal (i.e. the Marmoliem doesn't allow microorganisms such as salmonella to grow). Both properties, she says, are a huge plus with children. 

Many of the fixtures and other items in the house, the Tulipanas ordered online. The wider selection was certainly a draw (as was not dragging 9-, 5- and 3-year-old children in and out of stores while pregnant with the fourth).

"Oh, yes," Kara says. "I was severely pregnant through the whole building process."

The master bedroom is also on the main floor and is decorated in earth tones. What is now the nursery, but will eventually be a library, is also on the main floor. A custom-built gate keeps Kara from having to worry about the dangers of the stair case that leads down to the bottom floor. The basement houses a media room, exercise room and four bedrooms. The media area was intentionally put on the lower level (as a standard practice, the Tulipanas don't put televisions in their main living rooms) and has a projection-screen TV and a wet bar.

Duncan says it was refreshing and interesting to work with homeowners who skewed from the norm. It always helps to mix things up.

The deck off the main dining area was intentionally set on the east side so the couple could watch the sunrise in their country setting and so that the roof of the house would shade the porch during the late afternoon.

The free-standing garage has a basement workshop, where Kevin has set up shop for welding and whatever other projects he comes up with in his down time.

However Kevin and Kara went about conjuring up the time, the home truly seems tailor-made.

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