It sets the bar for anniversary gifts. As Lorie and Jeremy approached their 25th wedding anniversary, they decided to take a giant leap and build a new home to commemorate the occasion.
At the time, they lived in Kettering, but wanted a bit more space for working from home and they liked the idea of being closer to friends who live in Cincinnati. So, deciding to build, they selected a heavily wooded ten-acre lot in Morrow, which met their work and social lives in the middle.
Their “gift” was three years in the making, but immediately upon driving up to their Napa Modern Farmhouse style home, you know the result was worth the wait.
The deep brown sided 6,400-square-foot compound includes the main house, a three-car garage and an artist’s studio, and has an organic feel that makes it cohesive with its surroundings.
Then take a step around the back of the home, and it’s hard to imagine, as you take in the lush opulence of their back yard, that this is Lorie and Jeremy’s first summer here.
“This was all just dirt when we moved in,” Lorie says as she scans the 40-foot-wide by 140-foot-long section of land between their home and the thick expanse of woods beyond their back yard.
That statement is mind blowing considering the vibrant scene that you are taking in only had one growing season. Plus, according to Lorie, the original plantings were not especially large.
“Lorie has done an amazing job with these plants,” says Dwight Goodin, landscape designer with Siebenthaler’s.
A shaky start
Seeing the stunning results, it’s hard to believe that Goodin passed on the project twice before finally agreeing to take a look.
“This project came across my desk three times,” he says. “The builder contacted me first, then the man who was grading the property was next.”
There were a few challenges that set off alarm bells in the designer’s head. First, the distance was an issue. This location was out of Siebenthaler’s traditional work radius and would add time and expense to the job. Second, it was an ambitious undertaking. Did the company have the staffing and resources to commit to this project? And finally, Goodin wasn’t a fan of the existing landscape design, which had been created before he came on board.
But the pressure persisted. The grader contacted him again and begged him to take a look. “He dragged me here kicking and screaming,” Goodin says.
When he finally was coerced into travelling south for a visit, Goodin took one look at the site and immediately saw its potential, and knew despite his earlier misgivings, he had to accept the challenge.
On the same path
When Jeremy and Lorie shared their vision with Goodin, Lorie says, “We hit it off really well.” Lorie had collected photos illustrating the feel she was going for and shared them with Dwight. “It was clear she wanted a showstopper of a back yard” he says.
Goodin came up with the new master plan which included a pond with spillways as the centerpiece. One hundred and eighty yards of Siebenthaler’s rich, custom-made plant mix were added to the area to create mounded areas of interest and provide a fertile home for happy plants. Due to restricted access to the back yard, the soil was brought in one wheelbarrow full at a time to create the mounding.
“It was like filling a punch bowl with a teaspoon,” Goodin adds.
Water meets art
To create the water feature, Lorie reached out to Tony Niekamp owner of H2O Art and Stone. “I wanted it to look natural and knew Tony was who I needed to work with,” Lorie says. “He and his team just did a phenomenal job.”
Goodin agrees that Niekamp was the perfect person for the job and says when it came to design details for the pond, he needed to let Niekamp “do what he does best.” He adds, “You don’t tell an artist what to paint.”
Niekamp started working a week after Thanksgiving 2021 and finished the week of Christmas. “It was insane how fast Tony worked,” Goodin says.
Then in January, the Siebenthaler’s team was planting beds at the front of the home. With Lorie’s encouragement, spotted yellow and green Aucuba plants were included. The selection was a gamble, since these are marginally hardy plants, but the plants were backed with a warranty, so it seemed worth taking a chance. The plant became a favorite immediately and got scattered throughout the project. It not only survived the Ohio winter, it thrived. All of the plants are healthy and have seen tremendous growth.
Next the team turned their attention to planting the back yard in March. The area is mostly shady, so plant selection had to factor that in. There is no traditional grass anywhere on the property. Lorie has a penchant for perennials and wanted their grounds to be low maintenance. Goodin agreed and placed shrubs and plants so they would grow together and require little mulching.
When it came to specific plant selection Lorie and Goodin walked through the greenhouses together. “That was a blast,” she says.
Lorie happens to know a lot about plants. “My grandparents were farmers. My Dad loved plants and grew rhododendrons when he lived in Seattle, orchids when he lived in the San Francisco Bay area, and he had 150 rose bushes in Phoenix.”
“The project got more exciting as we got further into it,” Goodin says. “In the beginning, Lorie had a vision and I had a vision. About two thirds of the way through the project they were coming together.”
A primary goal was to create a space that offered year-round color. The heavily wooded lot posed both a challenge and an advantage. “Trying to get bold foliage in a shady setting is challenging,” Goodin says. Yet the trees themselves are a perfect backdrop. Jeremy and the youngest of the couple’s three children, their daughter Lainey, list some of the species seen out the studio’s windows—Sycamore, Sassafrass, Shag Bark Hickory, Sherry, Maple, Paw Paw, Buckeye, and Black Walnut.
There does happen to be one area on the property that gets a decent amount of sunshine. On the border of the stamped concrete patio, Lorie designed three large custom planters which Goodin says, “exceeded all expectations. What Lorie did with these is amazing.”
Inside looking out
The interior spaces in the home take full advantage of the backyard view with walls of windows in the kitchen, great room and primary bedroom suite. Lorie’s artistic touch is seen once again in the countertop-to-ceiling Rookwood Pottery backsplash. She worked with the artisans there to create the striking piece of art that Jeremy says, “manages to complement all four seasons as it draws the eye to the outdoors.”
Interior beams, built by Kessler, were made from hickory trees that were taken down on the property. The couple had them milled, planked, kiln dried and cut. Exterior soffits are constructed from this hickory as well.
Four season splendor
The family moved in during December of 2022. Lorie says even in the winter, the view is special. “Our property backs up to a quarry, so when we lose the leaves, it looks like there is a pond back there.”
No matter the season, the acres of trees, the wide variety of visiting birds, Japanese maples, dogwoods, rhododendrons, butterfly weed, and a babbling brook, will all work together year-round and throughout the years to serve as the ultimate anniversary keepsake.
Landscape design Dwight Goodin, Siebenthaler’s Water features Tony Niekamp, H2O Art and Stone Interior design Cathy Arnold, Red Bird Interiors Cabinetry Doug Wampler, R.E. Wampler & Son Custom Cabinetry & Furniture Stairs and railings Kessler Fireplace Dayton Fireplace Blinds Aerolux Countertops Cambria Bentley, from Midwest Quartz and Stone Lighting Premiere Lighting Windows Sun Windows, 84 Lumber Appliances Thermador, from Appliance Gallery Floors Texas White Ash luxury vinyl tile, ProSource Backsplash Rookwood, installed by Allstyles Building and Renovation Architect Kevin Bensman, Springhouse
Article by Karen Bradner | Photos by Greg Grupenhof
Article originally appeared in February 2024