John Winzeler isn't sure if it was him or his wife, Eunice, who came up with the idea. There was an incident in their lives about four years ago that left John thinking that he might go to Toledo and buy a BMW to drive around.
"One of us said, 'Why don't we build a house instead?'" John said, and the planning began.
John says he had little input in the project. It was Eunice and their two daughters who got to work on the design that incorporates plenty of open space and lots of windows. Lange Custom Builders of Archbold was hired to build the structure and for Eunice, it was a thrill to watch her drawings move from paper to the real thing. In 2009 the Winzelers moved in.
Their new home was built next to the house where they had lived the past 40 years, just down the road from the Zone School where John served as principal for many years. With the new home in place, John disassembled the old home board by board. Some of that old house is now built into the new.
The home features hickory flooring and cherry cabinets in the kitchen and living room. There's oak woodwork throughout the home and plenty of closet space.
An open design connects the kitchen, living room and sun room. There are two bathrooms, a large laundry room, an office and a cloak room on the main floor. Upstairs, with separate heating and cooling systems, are two bedrooms and a bathroom. Most rooms in the house feature a two-tone painting scheme, sometimes subtle and sometimes stark.
A full basement includes a wood-burning fireplace and two entrance stairways: one from the main floor and one from the garage. Some basement rooms include recycled cedar siding and wood paneling from the Winzelers' old house. There are also two classroom doors and banisters from the former Zone School.
Two of the windowless bathrooms include solar tube lighting—a system that collects more light than a skylight.
"It's really surprising how much light they bring in," John said.
The exterior walls look very much like wood, but it's actually cement board siding. The Winzelers didn't want vinyl or metal, and they expect fewer maintenance needs than with wood siding.
There's one word John uses to describe his art collection—eclectic—and that diverse interest is evident from the moment a visitor enters the front door. There's art everywhere. It's a house, but it's also a gallery.
There are collections of soapstone, ivory, bronze and wood carvings from their travels. There are paintings, prints and stitchery from both far-away artists and from local ones including Ann Schang, Bev Biddix and Barb Bruggeman.
"It's kind of a bargain basement collection," John said. He's always picking up interesting items from estate sales and his son, Kim, occasionally brings in quality art from visits to Goodwill stores.
John says he's always impressed with the time people put into creating a piece, particularly wood carvings which he has dabbled in himself.
"I can't walk past things like that," he said.
Now that the Winzelers have been in their new home for three and a half years, they occasionally are asked how they might have done things differently and what they want to change.
Eunice's answer is always the same: "Not a thing."