ANDERSON, Ind. —
When Donnie and Kris Holland feasted their eyes on a 30-foot by 60-foot barn, they were sold on the property. Sure, it came with five acres and a beautiful house, but the barn was everything Donnie had hoped for in a personal hideaway.
“It had a full workshop and I saw the potential for a man cave,” said Donnie, retired from building maintenance at GM. “Now a section of the first floor has a pool table, flat-screened TV and a complete kitchen.”
He went right to work completing his vision. Even in the workshop, the walls hadn’t been completely insulated and finished. Adding drywall and a bathroom, he has created a cozy spot for work or play. In addition to pool, friends can play chess, darts or even the beautiful organ in the corner.
More often than hosting adult guests, however, the Hollands usher in their grandchildren. Eight boys and one girl make life a whirlwind of activity. To provide even more play space, Donnie created a loft on one side of the barn and finished eight small rooms. With an eye on making them seem like a little village, he used different brick-like paneling around the outside of each door.
“We were going to let them sleep up there when they spent the night,” said Kris. “But at the last minute we decided it was unsafe for them. With only one staircase up there, I was worried about a fire. But it’s still fun for them to go up and hang out.”
Mowing the go-cart track
In the garage section of the barn are parked several vehicles for the kids to ride around the 5-acre property. Previously farmland, the ground is very flat and had few trees — until the Hollands began planting.
“We have planted over 600 trees and bushes since we bought this place in 2003,” said Donnie. “It was so open we could see Cross Street out the back. I love trees, the oxygen they give and it does eliminate a lot of mowing.”
While Donnie doesn’t mow the entire property, he does have a large circle mowed in the center with broad north-south and east-west lines linking it to the edges. He also mows a wide strip around the perimeter, which acts as a perfect go-cart track.
Fruit trees and raspberry bushes provide tasty treats, while the evergreens have already supplied some extended family members with Christmas trees.
Improvements didn’t stop at the yard and barn. Donnie continued to use the skills he learned on the job and through his ownership of apartments to alter the home. Transforming a screened-in porch into a large insulated sunroom created a space large enough to seat the entire family during holidays.
In an effort to make the living room homier and more comfortable, he replaced white carpet with hardwood floors so that the kids didn’t have to worry about tracking in dirt.
“I love it that my grandkids love to come here,” said Kris. “They call this the fun place and also the peaceful place.”
Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an email to email@example.com.