It’s easy to drive right by the entrance to Meredith and Ajay Goel’s Centerville home. In fact, this writer did. Except for a narrow opening between long stretches of trees, overgrown bushes and honeysuckle, the only sign indicating a home might be there is a bright, newly poured section of concrete.
But once you make the U-turn into this drive and find your way back to the entrance, everything opens up.
The 500-foot-long drive first introduces you to the side of the home then casually curves around to connect with a circular drive. The path eventually leads to a grand porte-cochère welcoming you to the front entry of this California Modern Farmhouse style home. Its crisp white exterior, paired with a matte black metal roof makes a bold statement as it stands in the middle of a grass covered section of what feels like a secluded 11-acre lot.
Watching for signs
“A friend of mine, who knew Meredith and I were looking for property, was driving by and saw a teeny for sale sign on the street,” Ajay says. “He sent me the information and I looked it up on Google Earth. I couldn’t believe this huge section of land was available in a prime area of Centerville.”
Months earlier, the couple relocated from Meredith’s hometown of Milwaukee, back to where Ajay grew up so they could be near his family, which includes parents and a brother who live in the area.
Once the parcel was purchased, it was time to select who would handle the construction. “We interviewed a bunch of builders,” Ajay says. Their decision was influenced by the husband/wife team approach of Dan and Erika DeVol, owners of DeVol Custom Builders. “When we built our home in Milwaukee, our builders were husband and wife and it was a good experience. So that aspect resonated.”
But what really brought the decision home was a tour of another DeVol built home. “Even though it wasn’t the particular style we wanted, we could instantly see the detail and quality craftsmanship,” Meredith says.
“It’s the level of care we put into the littlest of details that separates us from a lot of other builders,” says Dan DeVol. “And this house was fun for us. It allowed us to do a lot of unique things that we would not typically see in this area.”
Been there, done that
With that decision made, Meredith got busy with the planning. “Since I had already been through the process of building a house,” she says, “I knew what I needed to do.”
Before meeting with architect Shawn Duncan, Meredith—who has a passion for design, but is trained as a nurse— says she studied “about a million” floor plans and compiled a binder of photos showing features she wanted.
“Meredith showed up very prepared,” DeVol says. “She was a gem of a client.”
Large and plentiful windows were a major factor in creating the big, open feel the couple wanted. And it’s this abundance of windows that hits you immediately as you pass through the ten-foot-tall copper covered pivoting doors into the home’s front entry. Glass panels on the west-facing wall of the great room slide out of the way to create a 26-foot-wide expansive open-air view of the courtyard and its center pool.
“I wanted a courtyard space where the kids could play and I could see them as I was working inside the house,” Meredith says.
The orientation of this wall of windows—and in fact the entire home—was deliberate for another reason. “I’ve always loved watching thunderstorms,” Meredith says. “When I was young my grandma and I would sleep on my parents’ screened-in porch and watch and listen to storms passing through.” So, the wide-open western vantage point is a hit, as is the metal roof which adds dramatic sound effects as the rain pours down.
The great room’s vaulted and beamed ceilings—reaching 21 feet at their highest point—are accentuated by a series of 10 square windows that only add to the open, airy feel. Bridging the space between the living area and kitchen is an informal dining area with a showstopping 14-foot-long herringbone patterned dining table, custom built for the couple by Cincinnati-based Terry Herrmann Design. That pattern also appears nearby on cabinetry panels designed for the kitchen’s Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer doors. The kitchen waterfall island and backsplash are covered in white Cambria quartz with soft grey veining running through it.
It’s this soft white and grey color scheme running throughout this home—along with windows and the sheer size of the rooms—that greatly contributes to the home’s ability to make you want to exhale upon entering. There is a definite calm and cool vibe going on here.
The couple are parents to four children ranging in age from 20 months to 16 years. Rooms are peppered throughout the home that keep them engaged and active when weather keeps them indoors. The lower level of the home includes a home theater with comfy seating for a crowd. Nearby is a playroom with shelving filled with colorful picture books, and a ladder, loft and slide for the younger children.
Upstairs in the exercise room, long panels of silk hang from the 14-foot peak in this room’s ceiling. Bella, the teenager in the home, was captivated after watching aerial acrobats perform at Cirque de Soleil. While living in Milwaukee she took classes and learned skills. Today she works solo but takes advantage of the quiet and the view as she twists and turns toward the ceiling. Bella is also a passionate tennis player, playing on her high school’s team and she often plays doubles with Ajay.
Ajay works from his office in the southern wing of the home near the primary bedroom. With clients in different time zones, his work often keeps him busy until four or five in the morning. After work his preferred space for winding down is on the great room’s couch. The mounting mechanism for the 100-inch-wide television is motorized and lowers in front of the linear fireplace to help avoid neck strain.
In fact, many of this home’s electronics were designed and built by Ajay. Educated as a computer scientist and with no real experience in this area, the homeowner admits he learned along the way. “There were times when I felt like I bit off a bit more than I could chew,” he says, but the lower-level theater, the whole home automation, a sound system which includes 30 ceiling speakers, and even the motorized shades on the windows, indicate otherwise.
It pays to plan
The whole process took about 2-1/2 years from design to completion. During this phase, the family lived in another home about a mile away. The move-in date was in December of 2022 and while kids would have to wait until warmer days to splash around in the courtyard’s pool, there was plenty to do indoors.
“We planned this home so that our kids could run around inside when it is too cold to be outside,” Meredith says.
That careful planning resonates throughout this home. Every detail was chosen with a purpose in mind. Tile floors are heated. Windows are UV coated. Stair railings were built to keep young children safe. A laundry room includes a bath area and doggy door for the family’s Labradoodle Momo. And from atop the metal roof, lightning rods protect the home and its contents when storms sweep across the property, while safely behind her great room’s wall of windows, Meredith watches the show.
Architect Shawn Duncan Associates, LLC Builder Daniel DeVol Custom Builder, Inc. Interior designer Jaclyn Westbeld, Daniel DeVol Custom Builder, Inc. Landscape designer Rick Lamble, Atelier Vals Landscape installation Rob Fowler, Lawn Innovations Outdoor lighting Josh Johnston, Archalite Pool Tim Buechel, Mid-American Pools Lighting Ferguson, Restoration Hardware Flooring Bob Madden Carpet & Tile Windows and doors Fleetwood Window shades PowerShades Paint Benjamin Moore Steam Front door Castlewood Fireplace Dayton Fireplace Cabinetry Farrington Woods Kitchen sinks Kohler Kitchen faucets Moen Appliances Miele dishwasher, Wolf cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Viking ovens, all from Appliance Gallery Bathroom countertop Cambria Bathroom sink, tub, faucets Kohler Steam shower Kohler with DTV from Ferguson Custom 14-foot herringbone dining table Terry Herrmann Design
Article by Karen Bradner | Photos by Kelly Ann Photography
Article originally appeared in July 2023