Girl power

Homes: Girl power

Girl power

About 51 million Americans are living in a home with at least two adult generations, according to AARP. Among them are Judy Mitchell, daughter Val and granddaughter Zoey, who are enjoying their custom-built home in Monticello.

Story: Christine Walsh

Photos: Rick Danzl

About 51 million Americans are living in a home with at least two adult generations, according to AARP. Among them are Judy Mitchell, daughter Val and granddaughter Zoey, who are enjoying their custom-built home in Monticello.

“We took several house plans and lots of ideas from home shows and we kind of put everything together,” Judy said.

Originally from Farmer City, Judy raised her kids in Monticello. After they were all out of the house, she moved to Champaign.

Daughter Val Mitchell had a daughter of her own, Zoey, now 5, and owned an empty lot in Monticello’s Jefferson Grove subdivision.

“I always wanted to raise my kids here; it’s a nice town,” Val said.

Judy sold her Champaign house, intending to move down the street from Val.

“And we thought, ‘That’s kind of silly,’” Val said.

So instead, Judy and Val collaborated to plan the perfect home for all of them. The process went relatively smoothly.

“Val and I have pretty much the same taste,” Judy said. “It didn’t take us too long.”

The feminine influence of the three generations is evident as you walk throughout the home.

“It’s very girly,” Val said.

Judy describes the home’s style as “eclectic.”

“It’s kind of a mixture,” Val said. “It’s modern but kind of has touches of country. We have a lot of personal touches and built-ins.”

One of the home’s unique features is the granite pieces on the fireplace. Judy and Val brought in Chuck and Marie Damler of Natural Valley Recycled Granite in Indianapolis to piece the granite scraps by hand over two and a half days, putting them up at a local hotel and opening a tab for them at a local restaurant to sweeten the pot.

Judy and Val furnished the home mainly with what they already owned from their previous households. They did buy barstools and recover some dining room chairs, however.

“We didn’t have to really buy too much,” she said.

Judy had her things in storage after her house sold. When they finally moved into their new house, “it was kind of like Christmas,” Judy said, as she discovered items she had forgotten that she had.

Judy is retired from human resources.

“She is now the landscaper,” Val joked.

Val is a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Carle. Val’s job requires 24-hour shifts, so the living arrangement works out well with Judy watching Zoey while Val’s at work.

Val spent almost 10 years in the Air Force and seven in the Reserves and bought much of her furniture when she was stationed in England and Korea.

The home has some interestingly quirky touches like a mail slot between the office and an entry bench area meticulously organized with stylish cubbies.

“The one difference between Val and me is I’m a neat freak, and Val’s not so much,” Judy said.

Val said living together has helped them find a nice balance in that area.

The office is located right next to the kitchen rather than near the front door, as it is in some home layouts.

“It works great; you feel like you’re a part of things,” Judy said. “Zoey will sit at her desk and color.”

The basement has some features borrowed from various home shows Judy and Val attended. One is a “playhouse” for Zoey in an otherwise unutilized space under the stairs. Another is a walk-in wine cellar with a window between it and a bar.

One wall was cut out into a theater room, a last-minute addition. It has blackout curtains and a closet that neatly hides away projector equipment and a variety of media. Judy requested extra insulation in the room’s ceiling, which is directly below her bedroom so that her grandchildren can watch movies late into the night without disturbing her.

Judy’s son, who works in the construction industry, did the work on the basement bathroom, which has a beachy theme. A whimsical set of snowman shower hooks were put on the curtains when they first moved in and were trying to locate everything and have stayed there because everyone likes them so much.

Judy has her own sewing room in the basement, where she can immerse herself in her hobby of quilting.

“She’s got her space, and I’ve got mine,” Val said. “We don’t get in each other’s way too much.”

The family does enjoy spending time together, too. Judy and Val like cooking meals together in the kitchen, for instance.

Zoey’s bedroom is a little girl’s pink princess paradise highlighted by a bunkbed that’s a hit for sleepovers. Judy and Val hung the wallpaper themselves in that room and in the laundry room, a task Judy hadn’t done in years.

“It comes back to you, sort of like riding a bike,” Judy said.

Val admits that a lot of the touches in Zoey’s bedroom are things she dreamed of having when she was a little girl.

“I wanted her to have a window seat,” Val said, gesturing to a cozy upholstered nook with a serene view of the sprawling back yard and lake.

Val’s bedroom is a big-girl’s dream, with a sumptuously appointed bed and a spacious walk-in closet complete with a rotating shoe rack, lighted by a crystal chandelier. Most of the home’s lighting came from Tepper Electric, and the rest was bought online.

There is a sitting area with large windows on all sides except one, which originally was going to face out onto the roof. Instead, Val asked that another fireplace be put there.

Also on the upper floor is a toy-lined loft area where Zoey can play and see her mother and grandmother downstairs, while they keep an eye on her from below.

Val’s favorite part of the house is the great room, while Judy’s is the fireplace. Judy also likes the large granite kitchen island with lots of prep space.

“And I love the screened porch,” Judy said.

Val is pleased with how all of the ideas in the floor plan has come to fruition.

“We have family and friends over; it’s nice for entertaining,” she said.

When people ask her if there were anything she would change, Judy responds that she probably would have made her bedroom a little bigger.

As the family looks out from behind their home, the only neighbors they see are in the distance, on the other side of the lake.

“That’s what I love – the privacy,” Val said. “And you can’t beat the view.”

Judy has an area where she has planted some daffodils and impatiens and hung a hammock for when she wants to take a break.

“It’s my own little oasis,” Judy said.

Val would still like to add a swimming pool and a fire pit behind the house at some point. Judy would like to plant some more trees.

“There’s nicer homes around I’m sure, but we just love this one,” Judy said.

The family plans to stay in the home for a long time. In fact, Judy and Val have talked about taking out the main floor bar to make room for an elevator if Judy ever has mobility problems.

“We have a perfect set-up for when I get old,” Judy joked.