Life in the U.S. Air Force can be an adventure: seeing new places, moving around, meeting new people. However, it also can increase a longing for a forever home.
Rob and Jenn Hansel met in 2010 at a concert they attended with mutual friends at Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill, and they married two years later. Before meeting Jenn, Rob had trained at the Air Force Academy. After pilot training for the F-16 in Mississippi, he served in Germany, Las Vegas, Iraq and Phoenix.
“My favorite place I was stationed was Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. … I got to see much more of the world by being there,” Rob said.
“The unpredictability of Air Force life definitely made us yearn for a stable forever home where our kids could grow up without having to change schools and friends every few years,” Jenn said.
Jenn did not grow up in a military family, but her family moved to five different states before she graduated high school. “I yearned for a stable and continuous upbringing for my kids,” she said.
After settling in Scottsdale, the couple purchased what they felt would be their forever home. Jenn worked as a labor and delivery nurse, and they were content living in Scottsdale. However, after having two boys, they realized their neighborhood didn’t have many families.
“We had to leave the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating,” Jenn said.
On Halloween of 2018, they decided to look at a house in DC Ranch near their friends’ home. In a prime location, the gated community was a dream. As for the house, it wasn’t love at first sight. The couple wasn’t happy with the amount of work that it would take to make it feel like their own.
That evening, friends encouraged them to stay and experience the neighborhood. “There were parties at every house and a potluck in the park,” Jenn said. “It was almost a competition to see who had the best decorations.”
Jenn was hooked. They waited to see what else would come on the market.
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After the holidays, the DC Ranch home was still for sale. After viewing the approximately 3,000-square-foot home with fresh eyes, they began to see the potential.
They purchased the four-bedroom, four-bath house in January and began renovations with contractor Dan Miccolis of D.R. Miccolis LLC.
First on the agenda: Remove the black slate floors and yellow walls. They installed gray wood tile throughout the home and painted the walls Dunn Edwards Whisper Gray. Patterned black and white tile floors gave the laundry room extra personality. They replaced the traditional light fixtures with more modern black fixtures, including Edison bulbs and glass.
“I’d say my style is probably a modern/transitional farmhouse vibe,” Jenn said. “You won’t see many colors at my house.”
Jenn’s monochromatic color scheme is far from boring. The relaxing palette is pleasing to the eye.
The most difficult part of the renovation came when they had to move into the house earlier than expected in April.
“Our house sold really quickly, and the original countertops never came in,” she said.
They doubled the size of the center island, so hunting for a new slab proved difficult. No countertops meant no sink or stove. They finally found a beautiful marbled slab of white quartz that fit the space perfectly.
The white shaker cabinets with black handles created a clean, cohesive look together with the elongated subway tile backsplash. Jenn accented the space above the stove with a herringbone pattern, complete with a pot filler.
What once was a formal living room was transformed into a comfortable, stylish sitting room that greets guests when they walk through the front door. It is pleasing to the eye, and family friendly.
A butler pantry leads to the kitchen and houses a wine refrigerator, microwave and coffee station.
Their two sons, ages 2 and 4, have their own wing, with a playroom separating the two bedrooms. The monochromatic design of the playroom fits well with the rest of the house, and it is the boys’ favorite space.
The master bedroom is situated on the opposite side, creating the sought-after split floor plan.
The renovations are not complete, as they have plans for updates to the master bathroom and backyard.
Jenn’s advice to her pre-renovation self: to factor an interior designer into the budget to help with the myriad of choices that overwhelmed her while trying to parent two young boys.
Now that they’re settled, however, Rob and Jenn believe they’re in their forever home.
“We spend our evenings with the neighbors in the park,” Jenn said. “I know any of the other moms would help me out in a heartbeat if anything ever came up.”
They also love being within biking distance to shops and restaurants. Rob, who is in the Reserves and an F-16 instructor at Luke Air Force Base, has been flying the F-16 for 15 years. He also flies for a major shipping company, so he has to be away a lot.
“I do feel like our neighborhood is like a squadron. ... It has been a game-changer having that community around the boys and I, so we don’t feel so isolated when he is gone,” Jenn said.
“The location and the kid-friendly neighborhood is what appealed to me most before buying the house,” Rob said.
As for their favorite part of the house, Rob and Jenn both love the kitchen and the open floor plan.
“I love the playroom between the two boys’ rooms and the four-car garage,” Jenn said.
The couple can see their boys growing up and riding bikes around the neighborhood. It is a picture, perhaps, of an America of old; for Jenn and Rob, it was the perfect reason to purchase their home.
Know of a unique home in metro Phoenix that is not on the market that should be featured? Email [email protected].
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