Bruntletts build new country home


The large country porch was just one of the features that attracted Gloria and Kevin Bruntlett to the home plans they used. The modified ranch house has a full, finished basement that walks out to a future patio. Because of the wet weather last fall, building took longer than the couple planned. They ended up living with Gloria's son during five months of construction.

Finished basement
The finished basement features a gas fireplace surrounded by cabinets that were designed to house Kevin's collection of miniature Harley Davidsons. The basement's serving and sitting areas were planned by Kevin to be his "guy space."

Bar area
Kevin and Gloria often entertain 50 or more family members for holiday get-togethers. Along with Kevin's bar area shown above, a second kitchen was added to the basement to provide extra space when they entertain.

Dining room
The formal dining room was planned around a large antique collection that Gloria inherited from her mother. The space was originally designed to be open to the kitchen and living area, but a wall was added between the dining room and a breakfast nook to anchor the antique buffet. The dining room also features a pass-through where Gloria designed a show box and shelf over the doorway to house small antiques.

By Bonnie Jo Hanson
For a long time, Gloria Bruntlett knew that she wanted to build and live in a new house before she died. After living in an old farmhouse for years, she wanted convenience: a master bedroom and laundry on the main floor, room for entertaining, for her mother's antiques, and space for her husband, Kevin, to call his own.

When it actually came time to build, construction of their modified rambler with full basement started sooner than they thought but faced delays from Mother Nature.

Gloria and Kevin already owned the perfect property for their new house, a building site just across the road from their old house. It sits high on 17 acres of land on that side of the road.

To their surprise, when they put the house on the market in July 2002, the house sold in one day, making them homeless sooner than they expected and accelerating their building plans.

Originally, the house was supposed to be a simple ranch, but when Gloria saw a house plan for a modified ranch with a large front porch, she knew immediately this was the house she wanted to build.

Construction started in August 2002, and the Bruntletts were hopeful then that the house would be done in a month or two. Due to delays caused by the wet weather, though, Gloria and Kevin did not get to move into their new home until New Year's Day 2003.

Since they had already sold their farmhouse, they lived with Gloria's son for five months. (Gloria's and Kevin's son actually works for the contractor who built their new house.)

Their new house sits on a lot overlooking the country road in Union Grove Township. A white, covered porch runs the length of the steel-sided beige house, which sits on a hill and has a walkout basement.

Gloria did not want just a rectangular rambler, so she added five "knock-outs." One is a bay window in the breakfast nook and another is a bay window in the master bedroom. Another is a sitting area in the spare bedroom and two are in the basement.

While adding corners increased the price of the house, Gloria thinks the knock-outs add a nice touch and they splurged to include them.

Since in their old farmhouse, the bedrooms were all upstairs and the laundry room was in the basement, having both on the main floor was important for the Bruntletts.

The two-car garage leads into the laundry room, which is something that Gloria tired of lugging laundry baskets up and down stairs really, really wanted.

The compact laundry room with a new front-loading washer and dryer connects with the kitchen, which features a large oak pantry which Gloria designed with the help of their cabinetmaker. Each of the shelves in the pantry pull out for easy access and an appliance garage keeps the toaster and blender out of sight but still within reach. An L-shaped island houses the kitchen sink with a faucet that detaches to become a sprayer and gives the family extra seating for meals.

The kitchen, the living room, and the breakfast nook have high vaulted ceilings and are connected in a U-shape around the formal dining room. Golden oak laminate flooring covers the kitchen, living room, and dining room and blends with the cabinets and the pantry. Gloria wanted to carpet the living room to visually separate it from the kitchen and dining room, but she was not sure where the carpet should end in the large open room. Instead she decided to use the laminate flooring in the living room and anchor the sitting area with a large area rug.

The original plan for the house featured an open kitchen and dining area, but the couple chose to enclose part of the dining room so Gloria's antique buffet could sit along a wall and this created the breakfast nook.

Also on the main floor are a bedroom for the couple's grandchildren, an office, and a small bathroom. While Kevin couldn't think of anything in the house that he would change, Gloria said the only thing she would do differently is to make one of the upstairs bedrooms larger, even if it meant giving up the office.

Throughout the home, oak spindles matching the home's cabinetry are used as corner guards (instead of typical plastic corner guards). Well-placed windows allow most of the rooms to be bathed in sunlight.

Because Gloria has numerous antiques from her mother, she wanted built-in display areas throughout the house, including an oak shelf over the wide entrance to the dining room and a ledge that extends from the living room into the landing for the stairway that leads to the finished basement.

The original plan didn't include a finished basement, something the Bruntletts knew they wanted so Kevin could have a space of his own. Most of the basement is a single room designed for entertaining, complete with a wet bar, an eating counter, a small sink, and a mini refrigerator. A stereo in the basement is wired to speakers in every room of the house. The basement family room is lit with recessed lighting while lamps and other built-in lights provide lighting for specific tasks.

The focal point of the basement family room is a massive oak display case built in a knock-out and around a gas fireplace. Kevin collects Harley Davidson motorcycle models, and he wanted a display area for his collection. The case is lighted and includes enclosed cabinets that keep games and linens for the basement out of sight.

Kevin said he owes the design of the wet bar and the display case to the cabinetmaker. While he had an idea what he wanted, it wasn't until the cabinetmaker began planning the features that Kevin's vision began to take shape.

Flooring may look like vinyl tile with a marble pattern but is actually a wood product with the warmth and feel of cork flooring. The rest of the family room the basement is carpeted and houses a recliner, other man-friendly furniture, and large screen TV. All of the electronics in the room can be operated by remote control, including the gas fireplace. "I can control everything in the house and never have to leave this chair," said Kevin while sitting in his recliner.

Entertaining is important to the Bruntletts because they frequently host 50 or more family members for holiday get-togethers. To make entertaining easier, Gloria had a second kitchen built in the basement. This room has a full-size sink and stove and will eventually have a refrigerator. A table provides overflow seating for large events while also being perfect for small gatherings and for game or card playing.

The basement kitchen can also be used by any overnight guests that have the privilege of staying in the basement bedroom, which Gloria calls her antique room. This room is decorated completely with antiques and has an antique rocker in a sitting area.

Having ample storage is important to Gloria, especially since their old farmhouse had next to none. Closets abound in their new home, including a large walk-in with shelves closet in the master bedroom and a 12-foot closet in the basement which is also shelved.

Now that everything has been moved in and arranged, Gloria wants to get a feel for her new home before planning window treatments and any finishing touches.

The couple plans to build a patio off the walkout basement this summer. There is still much to do outside, said Kevin. Besides the walk-out patio, the couple still wants to add a deck outside the living room, which has a sliding glass door. And, as soon as weather permits, Kevin hopes to start moving dirt so he can plant their lawn.

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