Edge editor’s custom home brings two families together
When Jack Shotbolt drove through West Omaha neighborhoods, he scoured the streets for the home he wasn’t sure existed. He sought a place that could bring he and fiancée Jennifer Matthes’ families together, a place where their five kids could have their own space while still coming together as one family.
Then he saw it: A newly-framed house with a layout that could be tweaked to meet the family’s needs. Three bedrooms upstairs, a master on the main, and the potential for two bedrooms in the basement meant that everyone would have a little bit of privacy, but the open layout and multiple living room areas left plenty of spaces for togetherness. Shotbolt had previously felt reluctant to custom-build a home – with five kids between them, their families’ schedules were packed enough without an extra project. But finding an existing home that met their needs was tough. This house, in the early stages of construction, spoke to him. In the yard was a sign for John Caniglia Homes. “The layout, the potential and the builder” convinced Shotbolt to call the next day to see the blueprints.
Together with Cory Caniglia, the couple worked to tweak the design of the house, originally intended as a spec home. They added a second bedroom and bathroom to the basement; swapped a linen closet for a secondary laundry room on the second floor; and re-envisioned interior finishes. They selected a color palate of warm neutrals, including chocolate browns, rust and sand, reflected in natural stone and abundant woodwork inside and out.
Caniglia listened to the couple’s ideas, incorporating them into the building process to give them the home they envisioned. The ability to collaborate on the building process is what allows the company to build homes people continue to love, he said. “If we allow them to put their ideas into their home, it gives them a sense of uniqueness or pride that they can call their own,” he said.
Customized finishes include floating cedar beams in the kitchen, knotty alder cabinets throughout the home, a homework/office loft with built-in desks, custom-built wrought iron handrails, and distressed walnut shutters (a project Jack took on himself). The couple drew from design websites and the Street of Dreams to select materials and patterns. Inspired by “a modern twist on French country,” they selected materials and décor with rustic warmth. Every room offers unique accents. In the kitchen, oversized wrought-iron pendant chandeliers hang between the floating beams. The intricate backsplash was painstakingly replicated from a pattern spotted on a website. In the master bathroom, the floor tile incorporates a pebble border, another example of how small details add visual interest to the home.
The covered back porch extends the living space outdoors. In the backyard, a 25-by-30 foot basketball court is a kid favorite. There’s room for a trampoline, too.
Being so hands-on in the design process upped the ante on the home. Both Shotbolt and Matthes were anxious to see how their ideas would play out. When the house was finally ready, Shotbolt was stunned to see their vision come to life. “Everything we took a chance on ended up better than we thought it would,” he said.
Thanks to Caniglia’s energy-efficient building techniques, the family also enjoys significant energy savings. Highly efficient insulation, a high-performing geothermal heating and cooling system and energy-efficient windows keep the home comfortable year-round. The money saved in reduced energy bills will cover the cost of the initial investment in five or six years. In fact, the home is so efficient that it received a rating of 37 on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index, the industry standard by which a home’s energy efficiency is calculated. A typical new home scores an average of 100; the lower the score, the better.
“Thirty-seven is extremely low and unusual,” said Jesse Krivolavek of American Energy Advisors, the company that assessed the home’s energy efficiency. “We test about 1,000 homes regionally per year, and very few make it under 40.”
Tax credits, increased awareness and a desire to reduce environmental footprint are driving more homeowners locally and nationally to consider energy efficiency in their homes, Krivolavek notes. Moreover, energy efficient homes are more comfortable and durable, and they have better air quality that fosters better health. “All of these can impact the value of the home,” he said.
These and other customizations have created a home tailored perfectly for this large family. In the kitchen, a large, round table seats all seven family members – a place for everyone to come together before splitting off for separate activities. On a typical evening, after eating a meal together, Shotbolt and Matthes might spend time by the linear fireplace, while the girls do artwork in the loft, and the boys play video games with friends in the basement. It’s a home that meets all of their needs.
“It was so much of us,” Matthes said of the custom-build process. “It made it that much more personal and meaningful.”
About the HERS Index
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index measures a home’s energy efficiency. Jesse Krivolavek of American Energy Advisors explains that the index works like a golf score: The average home is a HERS 100, and each point higher or lower represents a percentage point of energy usage differential. The lower the score, the better.
For example, a house with a HERS 50 rating uses 50 percent less energy than the average home. Tax credits on energy-efficient systems, increased awareness and a consumer desire to save money and reduce their environmental impact is driving use of the HERS index. “Sometime in the near future, HERS ratings on homes will be as common as MPG stickers on cars,” Krivolavek said.
Some of the variables included in an energy rating are:
• All exterior walls (both above and below grade)
• Floors over unconditioned spaces (like garages or cellars)
• Ceilings and roofs
• Attics, foundations and crawlspaces
• Appliances and lighting
• Windows and doors, vents and ductwork
• HVAC systems, water heating system and thermostat
• Less energy use and lower operating costs
• Reduced environmental impact
• Improved comfort
• Better health through improved indoor air quality
• Increased home value