Home: Best of both worlds in New Albany

Jillian Span Hofbauer

A couple finds seclusion amid a bustling New Albany community.

Finding a good school match for their young son was a priority for a former Grove City couple who decided to downsize after their older daughter moved away.

"Our life was in Grove City, so I knew if we were going to move I'd want to move to a really good community," says Rosie Verst. She and her husband, Rob, set their sights on building a modern ranch home in the New Albany-Plain Local School District. In a community where deed restrictions vary from one neighborhood to the next, the couple began searching for property where their ideal structure would be welcomed.

Rob, a general manager for the Columbus region of Messer Construction Co., a commercial building company, was looking for a lot with space and a degree of seclusion. Rosie, who grew up on a farm in southwest Ohio, envisioned living near neighbors with the convenience of a nearby town. The couple turned to real estate agent Ron Kendle to help them find the right building lot.

"He had this property come up for sale and said, 'It's a little of what you both want,' " recalls Rosie. The 2-acre property was enticing. It was surrounded by woods, set well off the main road and included a comfortable amount of isolation. But it also was next to a subdivision, with easy access to the community and school system that the homeowners desired.

The Versts quickly purchased the property, but had to wait nearly a year to begin construction of their new home while their Grove City home sat on the market. "We got to the point where nobody was buying it, and one night we were sitting at the dinner table and I said, 'Well, I guess we're just going to have to put both up for sale and pray about it, and wherever God wants us to be, that's where we'll end up,' " Rosie says.

A week later, Kendle called with good news-a buyer had put an offer on their Grove City home. The Versts were New Albany bound.

Building Their Dream Home

In collaboration with architect Mark Ours of Mode Architects, the Versts began designing their new home in the fall of 2013. Seeking a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath layout and an open floor plan, the couple wanted the house to feel connected to its natural surroundings with clear views of the outdoors. They purchased an additional two acres of land adjacent to the existing property, giving them a total of four acres.

"Intentionally, we have no interior walls in the great room and kitchen area," says Rob of the sprawling main living space. "[We] wanted the area to be open and appear that the entire house was supported off of massive columns."

This sense of openness draws the eyes toward large windows along the rear of the home that look out to the pond and covered portico-a favorite feature of the homeowners accessible from the kitchen and master bedroom-and a view of incredible wildlife, adds Rosie.

When it came to the construction process, Rob's background in the commercial building industry was an asset. As the general contractor and builder, he managed the construction and subcontracted specialty trades like electrical work and HVAC installation.

"Because he's a builder, he likes things more modern and new," says Rosie. "And I grew up on a farm, so I like country and rustic and old and antique. So this house was a very good mix of both our tastes."

The exterior facade is brick and stone, fitting with a farmhouse-style, while the front entry's tall columns and iron door lend a more modern feel. Indoors, walls and ceilings are finished in Venetian plaster with custom wood trim, appealing to Rob's modern construction sensibilities. Hand-hewn hickory hardwood flooring, a stone kitchen island and ceiling-high fireplace appeal to Rosie's tastes.

To help narrow decisions on tiles and cabinets, the couple hired designer Chris King of Manifesto Inc. "I said, 'These are the things I like, the colors I like, and just bring me three models of what you have.' And he did a fantastic job," Rosie says. "It seemed like he just knew my taste and style and pulled it together." A team of family members helped decorate the space.

While the family now feels happy and settled in their 4,000-square-foot abode, the couple admits that the building process was not without its challenges. Constructing the brick and stone exterior during an especially cold winter meant more equipment and higher costs, and because the property is located within an association, they had to meet certain building requirements.

"We knew we wanted brick and a ranch," says Rosie, but the association required that the house be two stories or look like two stories. Choosing the option to make the home appear to be a two story, false dormers were added and the roof height was increased.

The residence is still a work in progress, admits Rosie, adding that a 4,000-square-foot unfinished basement provides potential for increased living space. Landscaping and light poles lining the driveway have gradually been added over time. But the couple is pleased to be living in a safe, active community, with a great school system where Ben will be starting second grade in the fall. "We are blessed," says Rosie.