2006 Homes Of The Year

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living roomHomes Of The Year: Less Than $300,000

Hog Heaven

This Harley-loving professional has found the perfect place to call home when she's not on the road.

Mary Baker isn't your typical buyer. Most people in search of a home tour the house, discuss pros and cons and contemplate the major purchase. Not Mary. All she needed was a peek through the windows and a walk around the outside before she knew this was the house she had to have. The day after Mary took her self-guided tour, builder Travis Miller put the home up for sale. That same day, Mary took the home off the market. "I was just driving through this subdivision, and I knew," Mary says. "I said, 'Oh, I'm going to buy this house.'"

Mary's is the only house on our Homes of the Year list that isn't custom-built, but she's not complaining. "I couldn't have drawn it better," Mary says. "The only change I made was to stainless-steel appliances."

The three-bedroom house is just enough space for Mary and her 23-year-old daughter, who is a member of the U.S. Army. As a recruiter for a mortgage company, Mary spends quite a bit of time traveling, and when she's not traveling for business, she's traveling for fun. A self-taught Harley Davidson motorcycle rider, Mary is a member of the Ozark Mountain Hogs and has put 6,000 miles on her bike the past year. When she's not riding, she likes to entertain, which makes the open spaces and the large kitchen island in her home key. The oak floors and the oak kitchen cabinets are complemented by black iron fixtures, which are exactly what she would have chosen, if she were in on the building process, Mary says. The 14-foot ceilings in the common areas also help make this 2,000 square-foot home feel open. The two-way slate fireplace can be seen in the kitchen and similarly in the living room. In this main area, windows that are nearly floor-to-ceiling are framed in white crown molding that coordinates with the white hearth of the fireplace.

Arched walk-throughs as well as cathedral ceilings in the secondary bedrooms are just a few of the extra details that add personality to the home. Miller says these features were well worth the extra money it took to execute them.  The master bedroom has a step-up tray ceiling, and the master bath has a corner Jacuzzi bathtub and pewter fixtures.

Up the iron baluster stairway is a 250-square-foot bonus room that acts as a TV room for Mary and her daughter. Various shades of beige coat the walls throughout the home to help pull it all together.

The exterior of the home is a combination of brick, cultured stone and cedar. The stable-style garage doors, Miller says, have been a one of people's favorite features, which he executed by adding pieces of cedar to its front.
Mary was drawn to the house for its large backyard and deck.

The plan of the house has been such a success for Miller that he is currently in the process of building two similar versions in southwest Springfield.

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