The Herald Bulletin

January 4, 2014

Favorite homes from 2013

From tree houses, to tile, to cabinets, featured homes shine

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

---- — Walking into area homes every week to feature a family and their unique style is nothing short of delightful. Some residents spend a great deal of money on their homes while others achieve unbelievable results with little cash and a lot of imagination. Here are some favorites from the past year:

Award for the Most Fabulous Kitchen Cabinets: Curt and Jahnae Erpenbach

I have seen a lot of truly incredible kitchens this year, including fantastic backsplashes, superior tile work, gorgeous countertops, well-designed layouts and stunning lighting. However, this pick was an easy one to make. Cabinets that actually curve through the corners and around the island are about as impressive as they can get.

Fashioned inside the home, these cabinets are chic and modern, which fits the rest of the spacious great room perfectly. Granite countertops from India top them for a fantastic finish and perfect contrast in color. The kitchen is simply a showcase.

“This big room is one of the reasons we bought the home,” said Curt. “It’s great for entertaining. The home is very unique and the builder didn’t cut any corners.”

Award for Amazing Bathroom Transformation: Bill and Cindy Byer

Truthfully, I want to give several awards to this couple. Not only have they done fantastic work on their house, Cindy has done the bulk of it with her own two hands — including the tile work in this bathroom, which is extensive.

Pink and mauve tile and fixtures reigned supreme before Cindy decided the retro 70s look was no longer welcome. Not fond of the appearance of a shower curtain or door that obscures the view of stylish tile, she reconfigured the space so she could do without either.

Retiling the floor, shower and bathtub area is only part of her work. Unpictured is the lovely area around the double-sink vanity across the room.

Award for Most Interesting Conversation Piece: Michael and Kenya Long

Conversation pieces can take many forms — antiques, oddities, a signed wall of the house from the early 1900s, framed layers of wallpaper (as a testimony of what has been removed) and even strange hidey-holes.

Michael and Kenya Long have an entire wall. Not a wall up in the attic or one in the basement. This is the wall that separates the living room from the family room and cannot be missed.

Originally a log cabin built 200 years ago and moved from Mounds Park, the home has wood beams that lie behind much of the drywall. Left as a hallmark to history and a testimony to visitors are the uncovered beams that take center stage and add unusual character to the home.

Award for Exterior with the Most Character – Christopher and Marissa Mamazza

Not only am I taken with the historical flair of this home in downtown Anderson, but the Mamazzas were drawn to the house for the same reason. Christopher has been pouring his time and energy into renovating the interior to create the perfect atmosphere for his family.

“I just love the charm of the exterior,” he said. “It has so much character and architectural detail.”

Commissioned by Charles Harvey and Edna Tanner Rawlings in 1910, the home is a standout among the regal houses that line the historic street. During construction work, the family discovered travel books from 1911 and 1912. They also enjoyed a visit from the original owner’s grandson, who was a fount of information.

“I love history, so when he stopped by, it was like hitting the lottery,” added Christopher.

Award for Outstanding Landscaping – Mike and Kathy Harlan

The most unusual how-we-got-here story also resulted in the most extraordinary landscaping. Mike and Kathy Harlan bought their property because he wanted to build walls. But not just any walls — the perfect walls.

He and a friend, Dick Wolfgang, personally moved 4,250 blocks, each weighing 90 pounds, to create an oasis leading down to Kilbuck Lake.

“I wanted the challenge of building the wall,” said Mike. “I thought it would be good stress relief. Some people fish – I work.”

Award for Spectacular Tree House – Rob and Lana Ranahan

Rob and Lana Ranahan renovated a dilapidated home into one with a luxury kitchen, bathroom and living area. While these were expertly crafted by Rob himself, my attention was really stolen by the tree house — simply because I have seen nothing comparable.

Living in a camper during the first month of renovations may not be a parent’s dream, but Matthew, 11, and Tyler, 9, treated it as an adventure. Rob built them a two-story tree house so they can continue to “rough it” any time they like. Such detail work is evident in the structure that it is sure to be the site of many club meetings.

I am looking forward to meeting many more readers in 2014 so please don’t hesitate to contact me to recommend a home – even if it is your own. E-mail