Creating independence

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Couple builds new home with goal of accessibility for son


Kara and Brien Heinemann said they have seen a spectacular difference in the independence of their son since the completion of their new home in rural Glenville. 

Email newsletter signup

Before the home was built, the family lived in a split level home in Hayward. They had been in that house before finding out their son, Breckyn, now 4, has cerebral palsy.

The house had carpet and was difficult for him to get around in.

To help accommodate his needs, she said they decided to build a home mostly on one level with hardwood floors that would be easier for him to maneuver through with his chair or walker.

Kara Heinemann said they also always wanted to be in the country, as she and her husband both grew up like that, so they purchased property southeast of Glenville in November 2017 and quickly began work to tear down a barn and machine shed that had been there. Construction on the new 5,600-square-foot house began in July 2018, and they moved into the space in January.

Andy Houg Construction was the general contractor for the new home, and Broadway Home Design did a majority of the interior, including the cabinets, flooring and countertops throughout the house, they said. Other local companies, including Johnson Heating & Cooling, Kelley Plumbing, Freeborn Lumber, Lake Mills Lumber, P&L Excavating, Budget Blinds and Inspirations by Pat played a part.

Kara Heinemann, who works as the church administrator at First Lutheran Church, said being able to design their own home was fun and rewarding.

“The best part is watching it all come together,” she said. “The hardest part was making decisions — and there is a lot of them. When you make your selection, you hope that it all comes together how you envision it. You’re choosing your flooring, countertops, paint, cabinets and etc. by looking at small samples.”

She said they wanted an open concept and designed the home with Breckyn’s independence in mind. They wanted to make sure everything in the home would be accessible for him.

“Creating a home that he can get around in and that offers him so much independence is a great feeling and such a relief,” she said.

The entire house is handicap accessible, and there is a zero-entry shower. There is also a heated three-car garage for when they are getting him in and out of the house, and a small elevator that can transport him between the main and lower levels.

“He can now jump in the elevator and go downstairs in his chair (which is 200-plus pounds),” she said. “He is able to run around the house in his walker with no carpet, having his own bathroom that’s all handicap accessible, and with the house all zero-entry he can go anywhere in the house or outside with his walker. One of the moments that brought me to tears is when we brought Breckyn’s walker inside for the first time, and he was able to run around the house and not have to have our help getting across the carpet. That’s when I knew we did things right.”

Another of the family’s priorities was to create a gym and playroom for Breckyn, where he could do his therapy and exercises each day. His mother said he has already gotten great use out of the space.

The main level features the master bedroom and master bath, along with two other bedrooms and two full bathrooms. It also features a mudroom, laundry room, entryway, a living room and kitchen and dining areas.

The lower level features two more bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, an office, a playroom, a bar area and a family room.

The home has hickory hardwood floors throughout, and the cabinets are the same as all the other woodwork in the house — called Rustic Knotty Alder.

Brien Heinemann, a heavy equipment operator at Ulland Bros., said they opted for the dark woodwork and cabinetry because “dark is always in.”

He said it also had more of a country feel to them to have the dark woodwork, and it created a warm, rustic look.

“The house is more of a rustic farmhouse type,” Kara Heinemann said. “That’s our style.”

Beams from the old barn were placed as mantels on the fireplaces on both levels, and the rest of the fireplaces are made of stone with a glaze over the top.

Wood is also incorporated into a pallet hood over the stove, and a pallet wall in a small portion of the master bathroom.

Kara Heinemann said her favorite parts of the house are the kitchen and the fireplace. She said the family loves to entertain, so the space is perfect for that. She is also excited to have a big yard and have their own space without close neighbors.

Brien Heinemann said he enjoys the covered porches. Work was still being completed on a covered deck off the master bedroom in early April, and a covered porch is in the front of the house. There is also a large deck that is not covered off the back side of the house. 

Kara Heinemann said decorating the house was her favorite part about the process. She noted decorating and designing have always been a passion of hers, so it was enjoyable to find farmhouse items with a modern feel.

“There are so many decisions to be made, which can get really tricky, but in the end you are designing your house just how you want it and that is so cool to see,” she said.