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Love of Country

Midwest Living, September/October 2012

Farm house with timber frame interiorA new timber frame home in Ohio blends a couple’s affection for barn-style design, primitive antiques and laid-back country living.

As if made to fit, a salvaged wood sign reading 1949 hangs between two thick white oak posts in Deb and Ed Dick’s soaring great-room. “That’s the year of our birth,” Deb says of one of her favorite antique finds. “It just happens to fit perfectly in that walkway.”

Perfect matches are a dominant theme throughout the couple’s timber frame home in Kenton, Ohio, 65 miles northwest of Columbus. The three-story white barn sits on a lush meadow that was once a sheep farm. Clever construction serves the couple’s needs for wheelchair accessibility within the barn-style design. White walls and unfinished beams form a natural canvas for a collection of folk art and 18th- and 19th- century antiques. And the owners themselves, who’ve known each other since seventh grade and dated since high school, have that made-for-each-other glow as they affectionately share stories about their childhood together, Ed’s adventures in the 1970s as a crew chief with the Blue Angels (the Navy’s exhibition flight team) and recent moments playing with the grand-kids in their dream home.

Hosting family gatherings is easy in the open layout, which, more importantly, fosters Deb’s independence. After complications of a blood clot left her in a wheelchair, she required a home with universal design. Architect Kent Thompson and Riverbend Timber Framing in Blissfield, Michigan, helped meld the aesthetics of a century-old barn with functionality. “I didn’t want to sacrifice style for accessibility,” Deb says.

Country Style Timber FrameRustic wood tones mix with white walls and trim and mostly neutral furnishings. Touches of muted reds, oranges, browns and blues blend with the soft backdrop. “I knew I wanted it to be light and bright and neutral,” Deb says. Large windows cover almost every wall. “We oriented the house to the south to take advantage of natural light,” Kent says. Flooring of reclaimed barn beams adds farmhouse character. The great-room’s focal point, a double-sided fireplace, extends to the 30-foot ceiling, separating the dining and living areas yet leaving wide walkways.

A collection of primitive antiques– bird and dog sculptures, woven baskets, quilts and even a dress form wearing an apron–fills this house like a museum (but one that encourages touching). “I buy things that make me smile and feel happy when I look at them,” Deb says. She and Ed frequent antique shows such as the Heartland Antique Show and Pure and Simple Show, both in Indiana. The couple’s passion for collecting outgrew their home, so they sell some finds at Jeffrey’s Antique Gallery in Findlay.

The displays of antiques and the barnlike architecture blend with thoughtful universal design elements. Wide doorways and big, open rooms accommodate Deb’s chair. An elevator, with vertical siding, goes between all three floors. Designing a fully accessible kitchen was the biggest challenge, but clever modifications allow Deb to use the prep areas and appliances. In fact, many of the design decisions make cooking easier for everyone. Appliances, such as dishwasher drawers and a side-opening wall oven, are easy to reach. “Even if I wasn’t in a wheelchair, the kitchen would be perfect,” Deb says.

White Shaker-style cabinets and a secondary island with a wood countertop repeat colors and materials used in the adjoining great-room. “This simple design works well with the barn styling of the home,” says kitchen designer Phyllis Craver. The kitchen wouldn’t be complete without a few antiques: pig bread boards displayed next to the cooktop and a wooden sheep statue standing guard near a side door.

“I didn’t want my house to look like anyone else’s house,” Deb says. “I wanted it to look like me.” It’s a perfect match.

To view a complete photo gallery of this amazing timber frame home visit, Kenton, Ohio Residence.

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