How collaboration between homeowner, architect, interior designer and builder created the perfect place for a young family to thrive.
Photos by David Duncan Livingston.
Interior Design by Wendy Glaister Interiors.
Architecture by Joe Smith, API Architects.
When I met the Rebiero's, I was working for Dawna's parents, Wendel and Heide Trinkler, on a major remodel of their home. Heide asked me to take a glance at the plans her daughter and son in law, Jon were thinking of building.
They had a darling family of four at the time and were ready to invest in building their forever home. Until that time, they'd been living in a two bedroom cottage on a Trinkler family ranch that had been in the family for generations. At this point, there had been a baby in Dawna and Jon's room for many years: first Gianna, then Genevieve for 10 months, and by the time they'd broken ground on their new home, darling baby Joseph.
The opportunity had finally come to build their home on property the couple had purchased together two years prior. The architect, Joe Smith at API Architects, had been selected because he'd come highly recommended by a number of friends. They'd met with several drafts people and architects and felt that he listened and understood what they wanted to build and create.
"Designing the house, I wanted space for all of the kids stuff...I wanted to put things away. In the little house, it was everywhere and stacked all over. I wanted the kids to have their own space as they grew up. It had to be welcoming to everyone and accommodate holidays in the future and special gatherings with friends. I wanted it to be easy for everyone to enjoy."
At first, Dawna worked on selections and planning for the home on her own, but quickly found she was starting to feel overwhelmed. "I would have hired you from beginning, Wendy, but I was afraid of how much it would cost to have a designer. But then I realized that there were so many details to cover and I didn't want to make mistakes on our forever home. After our first meeting, I knew I could trust you and that you would help me get through it. You saved my sanity."
Genevieve, the Rebiero's middle child, has Down Syndrome, and requires some extra supervision and protection because of her naturally curious nature. "We installed high locks on all the doors and an extra high fence in the backyard.....she has no fear. Her closet, the pantry and the laundry all lock as well because she loves to unload closets and cupboards."
Young families need surfaces that are durable, so we used quartz countertops throughout and Luxury Vinyl Plank that passed "The Farmer Test," which is a step outside in work boots, and a walk over the various flooring options to choose the one that shows the least footprints. Crypton performance fabrics covers all of the upholstery.
Now that the family has been in their home for two years, Dawna and Jon have grown to appreciate special features planned and built into the home. "I am so glad we have the mudroom. And the layout is so open so I can be with the kids and see what's happening.
Our island is something the kids and I really enjoy. They get up there on that big island and get involved in the cooking and baking which is also great for Genevieve because it helps her with fine motor skills, counting and patience! And the island hideout impresses children and adults alike when they come to visit for the first time.
The windows to the backyard allow me to keep track of everyone, even when they're outside and I'm in the kitchen. The office is great too (which has seating for both mommy and a child). All that stuff stays in there: markers, arts and crafts, etc. They can get creative in there with me but it doesn't go all over."
This spring, the backyard was completed and the family is looking forward to a great season with friends to enjoy the welcoming home they've created together. Eventually, they'd like to host fundraisers and events to gather and get to know each other in the TBODS community - the organization Dawna and Jon first connected to when they started searching for answers about how to best parent Geneveive. "It's hard to connect with everyone's busy lives so this is important to us." The
mission of TBODS ( a 501c3) is to enhance the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. They promote awareness, understanding and acceptance of Down syndrome in California's Central Valley, connect families,
and empower advocates, and
their children's achievements and bright futures together.
The Rebieros' went to first buddy walk when Genevieve was almost one in Mickey's Grove in Lodi. "You show up and feel a sense of relief. All of these people get it and understand and are trying to navigate this whole new world." That was five years ago.
The following year, Dawna got involved, accepted a seat on the board and went to all the events: Kite day, picnic day, the Buddy Walk, etc. "It allows kids the opportunity to play and talk together, and the parents to form lasting relationships." TBODS provides informational meetings as well. Once a month there are experts who present on services in the area, speech therapies, feeding issues, even puberty. "Talking with parents who have older children is so helpful and reassuring because you see things are going to be ok. I have people I can turn to when I have questions or feel unsure or want to know how to navigate something."
Every year TBODS sends families to their annual convention. Dawna has attended four times. "It's an amazing experience. You're surrounded by thousands of people who come to one place to learn as much as they can to provide their kids with everything they deserve and the opportunities they need to be successful and make a positive impact on society."
When I asked Dawna how the home Joe and I designed and Rui Esteves (her contractor) built has changed her family's life, she said, "Our house has given us a real sense of being home. It's our home. We created this and built it the way we wanted it to be for our family and our needs. It's provided some peace to the extent you can have that with three young kids. I am happy to come home, I enjoy being home. Now I can take a breath."
By Wendy Glaister, Allied ASID
For more information about the great work that TBODS The Brighterside Of Down Syndrome does in our community, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Smith at API Architects may be contacted at (209)577-4661 or email@example.com