Kim and Linda Thompson weren’t exactly in the market for a new home, but when they walked through an unfinished McKenzie model one rainy afternoon, all that changed.
Avid travelers, entertainers, and empty nesters, they’d become accustomed to the conveniences of life on the northside, but were ready to downsize from their Geist home. And they found exactly that in McKenzie’s Jackson’s Grant neighborhood.
How did you come to the decision to build a new home?
Kim: It was a lark in a way. We hadn’t set out to build a new home, but there was a home being built in our addition at Geist which we looked at seriously. It didn’t work out for us, but we soon found ourselves driving all over the northside looking at model homes.
Why did you choose a home in Jackson’s Grant?
Kim: It was a nasty day, so Linda stayed in the car and I quickly walked through the McKenzie model—the construction crew let me in despite it being unfinished. I came right back out and told Linda she needed to come look at it.
Linda: We loved the home immediately. It wasn’t even finished yet, but close enough to fall in love. The neighborhood, the style of the homes, and the green spaces they planned for—we loved it all.
Kim: And the convenience—being just off of Meridian. It’s convenient to Carmel, downtown, even the airport. We really liked the floorplan and called the McKenzie sales rep, Marcia Adams, that day as we drove away.
What was it like to work with McKenzie?
Linda: We had an excellent experience. I know a lot of people don’t say that after building a home, but we had a great deal of confidence in McKenzie from the get go. Oddly enough we’d sold our house and had to move out shortly after signing the contract with McKenzie. We actually moved to Denver (where our kids live) while our house was being built. Most people thought we were crazy for that, but we had so much confidence in McKenzie. They were great about maintaining regular contact with us through email, text, even FaceTime. We came back the last few weeks while the final finishes were going in and it really worked out very well.
Kim: Anytime you build a home there are going to be hiccups, and it’s more a matter of how your builder reacts to those hiccups. McKenzie did a great job reacting positively.
Linda: They’re very customer focused and it’s clear from their staff they want you to be happy and they’re willing to go the extra mile to make you happy. Even after we moved in, they’ve been extremely responsive when we notice something that needs a correction. Nothing unusual, but they’re so responsive when we contact them. Even their subcontractors were great, respectful, and professional.
Did you use any of their additional services such as McKenzie’s in-house interior designers?
Linda: We were assigned an interior designer, Kate Stahley, to help with selections and we worked with her extensively throughout the process. We’re so particular about every detail and have high expectations, but they were exceptionally patient with us. I could not be more pleased with the way our home turned out. Kate really understood our style and had a lot of vision.
Kim: One thing we learned to appreciate is that the designer brings you to different suppliers so you can sit down with that supplier and spend as much time as you need looking at all of the samples and catalogs. You get a wide range of choices. And, generally, we were sitting down with the owner or manager of those suppliers. We really felt taken care of.
What specific goals did you have in mind when you began the building process?
Kim: We were looking for a little more open space, the kitchen and great room combined, something that flows well and allows us to all be together when the whole family is home—with plenty of room to lounge and relax without having to separate in different rooms. We wanted a large bar/island because we entertain often and that’s been so helpful. That was probably the primary thing. Just a month after we moved in, we had a party for 65 people and the space handled it well.
Linda: In all of the McKenzie floor plans, they really make great use of light. They’re all configured to maximize the natural light coming in. Every room has an abundance of windows and our lot really maximizes the views from each room. We really like that about all the McKenzie designs.
What advice would you give to other empty nesters looking to build a home?
Kim: We downsized a little over 1000sf and we completely ditched the basement. It’s a matter of deciding what your lifestyle is and going with that, but keep in mind you are going to have children come home. Find a floor plan that allows you to separate away from the noise and be off by yourself.
Linda: When you think about empty nesters, you imagine just the two of you, but it’s not the case. You always have children or grandchildren coming over. Be aware of how you use your space. Storage is a huge issue. Especially when you downsize. That’s another thing we really liked about McKenzie designs. Lots of very accessible and nice storage areas.
Kim: To empty nesters who have a home with a large lot, I’d recommend getting away from larger yards. The lots in Jackson’s Grant are smaller, but adequate and a landscaping company will tend to it if desired. Don’t be afraid to take a small piece of property.
Linda: Look more for communities with nice green spaces included. So, you can get outside and be around nature without having to maintain it.
How would you describe your place—is it an entertaining hub or more of a private sanctuary for two?
Kim: We do quite a bit of entertaining for large and small groups. We also feel very comfortable here, just the two of us. In addition to the large open great room and kitchen, we have a very nice library off to a separate part of the house. It’s a great cozy sitting room. The master bedroom is similarly off to itself, so people can be in the great room or kitchen and not disturb people in the master bedroom.
Linda: Our kids and family live out of town, so we have overnight company around the holidays and the guest rooms are laid out well to give everyone their own space. McKenzie maximizes the space and avoids choppy layouts. It gave us the space we needed where we needed it.
How long do you see yourself living in this home?
Kim: You never know, but our plans are to be here for the duration.
Linda: Probably until they carry us out. We felt like this house would meet our needs for the next 20 years or so as we age. Life keeps changing, but we feel like this will carry us for quite a long time through those changes.
Kim: We like to travel and this home allows us to do that without having to worry about the home and the yard. It’s maintained for us and the home itself is low maintenance.
Linda: A lot of it is just really being aware of your own lifestyle and needs, how you use space and how you want to spend your time and resources. A bonus, the neighbors we’ve met so far seem to have many common interests and backgrounds. It’s a nice neighborhood of people to live among.