Resort living at home
Escaping to a resort is a luxury that might be done once or twice a year, but for homeowners Debbie and Rich Kusleika it’s part of their daily lives. Eighteen years ago they purchased a lot in what would eventually become Bennington Lake. Five years later they built a 4,400 sq. ft. three bedroom custom ranch home filled with amenities and unique details that would appeal to anyone looking for lakefront living.
The Omaha natives aren’t novice builders. In fact, they’ve built several homes in the past. When they heard of a new lake development going up in Bennington, they purchased a lot when the area was still farmland. They chose a location tucked in the southwest corner of the would-be lake that provided an expansive view of the water to the north. The Kusleika’s finally built their home in 2002, and it was one of the first 10 homes built in the area.
They said Bennington Lake is unlike other lakefront developments. “It’s a great design and not crowded or noisy,” Rich said. “It’s very clean, free of mud, and the water level is consistent so you can easily boat, fish, and ski on it.” A 3.8-mile walking trail surrounds the lake, and Debbie said the area is a hub for wild life, including eight resident bald eagles. “It’s beautiful, serene, and calming to have a cup of coffee outside in the morning and watch the birds on the lake,” she said.
Rich has been in construction his whole life and Debbie has a talent for creativity, so the couple has always worked well together. Debbie drew the basics of the home on a legal pad and then worked with an independent designer for several months perfecting the plan. Many of the home’s unique aspects were inspired by ideas they saw in homes when they traveled. Debbie’s favorite is the sunken bar off the kitchen. “I wanted to be at eye level with my guests so it’s easier to talk to them,” she said. The kitchen island is also lower so that guests can sit in comfortable chairs rather than on bar stools.
Travertine tile covers most of the main floor and replaces wood base boards for a cleaner look. A glass railing lines the staircase, providing a sturdy but elegant look to the great room. The same glass railing surrounds each of the lake-facing patios, one off the kitchen and another off the master bedroom. Large glass picture windows provide stunning views of the lake in every room of the house, including the basement rec room and bedrooms.
To achieve the open look and feel on the main floor, Rich had 18 steel beams installed to support the house rather than using walls that would break up the flow. In all four heated garages he also included floor drains, hot and cold water, and ample built-in storage. The lower level covered stone patio has a natural gas fire pit and hot tub surrounded by mature landscaping.
Debbie and Rich said the area is a good fit for anyone who enjoys lake living or for a family with kids. Bennington is a growing community with a number of new schools recently built with more expected to open soon. The couple has lived there for 13 years and are ready to downsize and build their next home. “We don’t have kids at home anymore, and we want something smaller,” Debbie said. “But we truly love this house and will probably build something similar because we’ve enjoyed it so much.”