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ideas and inspiration from area homes

a home with a


ALSO: Keep pests at bay

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features JUNE 2014




7 HOUSE WITH A VIEW Couple builds dream home on Lake Macbride

17 FROM ’70S TO FABULOUS Finlayson home required total re-do

26 LILY LOVE Solon exhibit celebrates Monet, lilies

30 HIGH-TECH TOILETS See what the future has in store

32 IF THESE WALLS COULD CRAWL Artists incorporate creepy-crawlies into decor



Tips for maintaining the upper hand with common pests

on the cover The Mark and Sharon Hollinrake added a round granite-topped table as an extension of their kitchen counter so Sharon could chat with family and friends while cooking. Tulips sit atop a lazy Susan engraved with their last name, making the table a pretty addition to the room.

on the cover ideas and inspiration from area homes

4om JUNE 20142013 4 ro AUGUST

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editor’s letter “Trishy, why do grills need to be outside?” I had a quick answer to this one, from our 12-year-old daughter: “Because you’re cooking with fire, and a fire inside your house would be dangerous.” But here’s where I had to stop and scratch my head: “But there’s fire on our stove and it’s in the house.” Hmmmm. Once again, I made no sense to a pre-teen girl — or to myself, for that matter, once I stopped to consider this catch-22. At least she said it politely, and not with that “O-M-G-you-don’t-know-anything” tone increasingly popular in our house. My husband and I are on a mission, of wavering degrees depending on the day, to teach the girls how to be more independent and responsible for their own welfare. And it starts in the kitchen. I realized the other day that while our 14-year-old had truly mastered guacamole, she didn’t know how to make soup from a can. So maybe our priorities are a bit out of whack, but the principles are the same: If you don’t learn how to cook, one day your sustenance might consist of bacon bit sandwiches and Dinty Moore Beef Stew — just ask your dad how that worked out.

ideas and inspiration from area homes

Editor TRICIA BROWN Contributing writers NORA HEATON ALY BROWN JUDY TERRY Photographers REGGIE MORROW DAVID SCRIVNER Designer AMANDA HOLLADAY To place an ad: 319-887-5436 To recommend a spectacular or unique home to be featured in Room, send an email to Content is the sole and exclusive property of the Iowa City PressCitezen and cannot be used without its written permission. © 2014 Iowa City Press-Citizen

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room AUGUST 2013

A house




he first thing you notice about Sharon and Mark Hollinrake’s home is the route that leads there.

The home is nestled in a tiny neighborhood on a small hill overlooking Lake Macbride near Solon. A trip to see the Hollinrakes affords a visitor the relaxation of a 10 minute scenic drive through the state park, winding slowly through the trees and curving around the lake. It feels like taking a small vacation before even coming upon the neighborhood, which is navigable by a single one-way street. ➤

Mark and Sharon Hollinrake designed their home on Lake Macbride with ample seating for entertaining. The couple participates in neighborhood progressive dinner parties, and served entrees to about 40 people their first year.

Driving along Cottage Reserve Road on a warm night, several of the residents will likely turn from their front porches, yards, or sidewalks to see who is going by — and whether they see a neighbor or a stranger, they will probably still smile and wave. For visitors to the Hollinrakes’ home, the walk from the street to the front door is the only time they will ever have to turn away from the lake. Once inside, you can catch a view of the water from practically anywhere. And that’s no accident. Sharon and Mark Hollinrake built this house two years ago to achieve exactly that – a home where daily life and household tasks include the natural beauty of the lake as a backdrop. The couple was living in Marion when they discovered Cottage Reserve Road by accident, driving through Lake Macbride State Park. Sharon immediately loved the neighborhood. “It had that ‘lake-y’ smell,” she said. “It gives off this old resort, old Okoboji feeling.”

Because Sharon and Mark love being outdoors, both their patio and balcony have a table and chairs to enjoy meals outside. They also enjoy sitting around the fire pit in the front yard with friends and neighbors.

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“We just tripped over this area,” Mark said, and pointed to a home across the street. “Sharon really liked that one. We probably walked through it five times.” The last time was in December 2009, when a “For Sale” sign appeared on an empty lot nearby. They bought it immediately and started designing. Mark and Sharon came into the task with some practice, having also designed their previous home. To build the home, the couple enlisted the help of Paul Brundell, owner of Allan Custom Homes in Cedar Rapids. Paul also is a personal friend and former neighbor. Even before the house was built, the Hollinrakes were eager to get on the lake. Fortunately, they didn't have to wait. They took their boat out on the water right away, visiting as often as they could during the day, returning to Marion in the evening. “We would say, ‘Think about how nice it’ll be to ➤

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“It had that ‘lake-y’ smell. It gives off this old resort, old Okoboji feeling.” SHARON HOLLINRAKE not have to drive back to Cedar Rapids,’” Mark said. “And to have a bathroom,” Sharon added, laughing. “I wanted Paul to build the bathroom first.” Mark, 58, retired from his job as an engineer at Henderson Manufacturing in Manchester two weeks after moving in. He worked out plans and logistics with Paul, since they shared what Mark calls “the engineer speak.” Sharon meticulously listed every item in the kitchen and pantry. Together, the couple detailed every aspect of their daily life and customized a space to suit each need.

Mark and Sharon designed their home, which was built by Paul Brundell of Allan Custom Homes in Cedar Rapids. The wall of windows offers a stunning view of the lake.

No detail was unaccounted for. The kitchen, especially, is a prime example of the focus on utility. They chose door levers instead of doorknobs so they could easily open doors between the garage and the kitchen with arms full of groceries. The pantry features tall, deep shelving for pots, pans, and larger appliances, but also includes small, shallow shelves to fit jars and cans efficiently and still keep the labels visible. There is designated space underneath the maple cabinets for the smoothie machine and related accessories, as the couple enjoys smoothies every day. Most of the kitchen appliances are installed along a granite-topped island, allowing the cook or kitchen-goer an unobstructed view of the outdoors. The windows are endless. The home has a designated sunroom, with impressive windows lining three walls. The sunroom’s glass door also leads to a roomy balcony that holds a table and chairs, where Mark and Sharon often host meals for family and friends. But the warmth and feel of the sunroom also characterizes the entire north side of the house, which is almost completely glass. The most impressive set of windows is most visible from the living room, where they extend floor-to-ceiling. The effect is amplified by the open layout of the house. The open space extends from the living room up to the roof, making the windows two stories high. The upper floor is lofted and overlooks the living room.

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This openness is perfect for entertaining guests and hosting family. Sharon and Mark have five daughters, ages ranging from 28 to 33, and one granddaughter, who is 5. Two of their daughters live out-of-state, and always have a place to stay when they visit. The other three daughters have stayed close to their hometown, Cedar Rapids. Sharon said she sees her kids after church some Sundays, and the family gathers every Wednesday night for dinner — which they enjoy outside when weather permits. Sharon, 57, describes herself as a “social person” and said she appreciates having the street between their house and the lake. She likes watching people walk, jog, and bike through the community, with the water just beyond. All this is part of Sharon’s daily view from her office on the upper level of the home. Sharon works from home as a presentence investigator for the Iowa Department of Corrections. Her workspace sits on the edge of the loft over the living room, facing the huge wall of windows. ➤

Lying in their bed, Sharon and Mark can see the lake through their bedroom window and also enjoy a fireplace just beyond the foot of the bed.

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Most of the kitchen appliances are on a granite-topped island facing the windows. The Hollinrakes designed their home so that most of their daily living allows them to face the lake.

The couple enjoys his and hers sinks in the master bath.

The upper level also includes the master suite. The bedroom has a fireplace, built mid-level into the brick wall, high enough to be visible from bed. Just beyond the bedroom door, the hallway has a small open window with wood shutters. When the shutters are open, Sharon said, she loves being able to lie in bed and see past the fireplace through this window toward the brick living room wall, with its stone pattern leading up from another fireplace in the living room. The master bathroom features a large bathtub along with an unusually designed shower. The floor of the shower has a raised stone pattern. Walking from the smooth ceramic tile of the bathroom floor onto this textured floor feels like walking from a patch of smooth sand on a beach onto the stones and shells along the shore. “At first, I thought it would be a little uncomfortable,” Mark said. “Now I don’t even notice it.” The bathroom connects to two walk-in closets. Sharon’s closet — which Mark pointed out is the bigger of the two — connects on the other side to the laundry room. Two guest bedrooms complete the upper level. One of these

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bedrooms contains an additional bed, sitting low to the ground, tiny enough for their granddaughter to fit perfectly when she comes to visit. The largest guest bedroom is on the main level. It’s a simple but pretty mother-in-law suite, with a glass door leading to the back patio. The adjoining bathroom also is accessible from a hallway across from the kitchen. Sharon and Mark said the next remodeling project will include splitting this larger bathroom in two smaller bathrooms. Sharon’s mother stayed with them for a few months shortly after they moved into the home, and Sharon said they realized a guest staying this suite would have more privacy if a smaller bathroom adjoined the bedroom. Others in the house would then be able to use the adjacent bathroom on the main level. The Hollinrakes’ home is completed by a finished basement, which includes two additional guest bedrooms. Mark’s computer desk is on this level. Now retired, Mark said he spends a large portion of his daytime hours at his desk. “People ask me what I do all day down here,” he said. “I really couldn’t tell you.”

Sharon’s office is on an upper level loft over the living room, facing the wall of windows.

The basement also houses a small exercise room with several fitness machines, all facing the water, which can be seen through a glass door leading from the basement to the front patio. Although the couple is extremely active, Sharon said the exercise room is used only as a last resort. They prefer being outside whenever possible. Sharon, who spent the month of May training for a half-marathon, runs outside every day. Mark plays golf ➤

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The living room provides a comfortable gathering place during family visits. Sharon and Mark have five grown daughters, several of whom still live in the area with their families. They host a family dinner every week, which often takes place on the balcony outside the living room.

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regularly at Saddleback Ridge Golf Course in Solon. They both enjoy cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and water sports and bicycling in the summer. The basement also holds the home’s third fireplace. Mark and Sharon spent evenings downstairs in the winter, watching TV in front of the fire. In the warmer months, they bring meals outside to enjoy at a small table on the patio. But they most prefer eating dinner together on the boat, surrounded by the cool waters of the lake. A throw pillow resting on a chair near the entryway perhaps says it best: “All you need is love and the lake.” The Hollinrakes’ active lifestyle, rustic décor, and appreciation for the park surrounding them echo this theme. The expansive windows looking toward Lake Macbride prove it, too: Mark and Sharon may have designed their house here, but their house is only part of their home. ■

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Jan and Mike Finlayson keep their living room clean and stylish, but also selected comfortable furniture to keep the room cozy. It’s important to them that guests feel able to relax when visiting.

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‘70s fabulous FROM TO



ourteen years ago, Mike and Jan Finlayson drove together through Iowa City neighborhood up a hill from Mormon Trek Boulevard, and spotted a “For Sale” sign.

When the Finlaysons purchased their home 14 years ago, they began renovations with a kitchen remodel. The biggest change was replacing a bulky peninsula with a sleek island.

There were plenty of reasons to keep driving. They weren’t looking to move from their east side home. Jan was six months pregnant with their first child. From the street, the house looked modest and unimpressive. Mike and Jan stopped anyway. And 14 years later, their home on Cae Drive is the only one their nowteenage daughter, Gabby, has ever known. After some initial remodeling and years and years of decorating, the house fits their family. It’s open and welcoming – standing anywhere on the main level, for instance, offers at least a partial view of several other rooms. It gives a feeling of connectivity without being cramped. But when they first moved in, Mike said, the interior needed some work. The house was built in 1978, and looked the part — it boasted loud orange carpet and plaid wallpaper. “It was very Brady Bunch-looking,” he said. ➤

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The family room lofted on the second level overlooks the living room on one side and the kitchen on the other.

A small table and chair near the window of the living room add a functional workspace that still feels comfortable. “In the 1970s, though, it would have been … ” Jan jumped in and finished the sentence with him … “ the house.” The pair does this often. When Mike and Jan speak of shared experiences, they seem to speak directly to one another, finishing each other’s sentences, sometimes even in unison. Their stories are a sequence of memories volleyed between them and the couple seems to intuit where the other’s thoughts are headed. The home echoes this harmony now, but it took some chaos to get there, starting immediately with a kitchen remodel.

The lofted family room is a frequent gathering place to play cards or board games. Thirteen-year-old Gabby’s bedroom is down the hall from this space, and is the only bedroom on this level.

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This undertaking started with a refrigerator, Jan said. When the

refrigerator that came with the house stopped working, they set out to find a suitable replacement. Within months, they’d replaced most everything in the room. They did away with a bulky peninsula that bisected the kitchen and dining room, and installed an island that opened up the space. They topped the counter with quartz. “That counter is 14 years old, and quartz is the hottest countertop on the market right now,” Jan said. And Jan would know — she has worked in interior design for 24 years. Now 45, she co-owns the Luxe Zone in Coralville, where she consults with clients seeking direction with major remodeling projects or simple tips to spruce up a room. She said she frequently draws from her own experience to relate to customers’ needs. ➤

Mike and Jan have similar taste in design, but different interests. Art books and volumes of classic literature are placed throughout the home, and a large bookshelf in the basement includes books on music and politics.

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Because Mike and Jan both grew up in homes where the living room was “off limits,” it was important to them to select comfortable furniture where guests can feel at home.

Mike, 47, remembers their remodeling experience as hectic. “I remember her washing dishes in the bathroom sink, and the microwave being in the living room,” he said. “It was kind of like living in a dorm room.” At the time, their daughter was a newborn. “I think I thrive a little bit on chaos,” Jan said, smiling.

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Both agree the remodeling was worth it. Jan now calls the kitchen “the heartbeat of the house,” and said she was glad it was finished before Gabby could remember it. Gabby, now 13, is a seventh grader at Northwest Junior High. When she ventured downstairs for a snack, she spotted her parents and smiled as she continued on down the hallway toward the kitchen. When she was ready to head back upstairs,

she instead took a few steps into the living room to give her dad a quick hug, which he smiled and returned.

has three levels for family members to choose from. It naturally creates what Mike calls “little escape pods.”

The openness of the home easily allows for such moments and seems to allow this closeknit family to draw each other even closer. Still, the family recognizes the importance of having personal space.

Gabby’s bedroom is the only one upstairs, and the family calls this “Gabby’s wing.” The upstairs level also features a small family room that is centered between the kitchen and living room.

The house allows for a separateness — particularly because it

The family room overlooks the kitchen on one side, and the living room on the other. It gives

the feeling of being nestled in an extraordinarily elegant treehouse. A few chairs are gathered around a small TV, with small games and DVDs stacked on a bookshelf against the wall. Throughout the house, there hardly seems to be any physical transition. It’s easy to forget you’re passing through a doorway. Many of the furnishings and artwork convey similar themes. From the entryway into the living room, for instance, two

paintings with bold, red brushstrokes hang on the wall — one near the entryway, the other farther into the living room, drawing the eye in. The paintings are a souvenir from a trip to Rio de Janeiro. Jan estimates the two pieces together cost about $80. Much of their art is local or has a personal connection to someone in the family. For instance, the living room also holds a pho- ➤

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Jan and Mike bought two of their paintings from an artist on the street during a trip to Brazil. Being able to interact with the artist and negotiate price provides a lasting memory.

A large wine cabinet in the living room is one of the couple’s most prized pieces. It was made by Baker Furniture and purchased at The Mansion in Iowa City, where Jan worked as a designer for most of her career.

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Although the house is on a corner lot, it feels surprisingly private and quiet. The balcony, patio, and gathering of chairs in the back yard feel distanced from the street and are framed by trees.

tograph by Danforth Johnson, a roommate of Mike’s from college. It’s an image of Washington Street in Iowa City, with the Englert Theatre in the foreground. The parallel lines of the street run into the distance, seemingly continuous.

“I remember her washing dishes in the bathroom sink, and the microwave being in the living room. It was kind of like living in a dorm room.”

A large photograph of the Mississippi River hangs above the kitchen table, which Mike said reminds him of growing up in Bettendorf, near the river.

above the headboard in the master bedroom. It’s titled “The Ballad of the Red Shoes,” by Iowa artist Beth Bird, and it was previously featured at the Dubuque Museum of Art. It’s a sweet, romantic picture of a women extending her arm out to a man, who kisses her hand.

Although Jan works in design and Mike in banking, they said their household includes a role reversal — Jan does most of their finances, and Mike can often be found moving artwork to different rooms, seeking the perfect place. Some pieces, though, seem to have “found a home” and stayed there, Mike said. He gestured toward a painting hung center

“It definitely belongs there,” he said. One of their favorite larger pieces is an elegant marbletopped wine cabinet from Baker Furniture. It was purchased from The Mansion in Iowa City, where Jan worked for most of her

designing career before starting The Luxe Zone. Most of their larger furniture is simple and classic, accented by artwork of varying styles and media. The smaller pieces leave a little more room for whimsy. “Mike doesn’t necessarily care for this,” Jan said, tracing with her finger the leopard-print lining inside a table lamp in the master bedroom. But peering inside the lampshade, Mike shrugged and said, “Oh, that? I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it was there.

But the fat horse, on the other hand, and the koi fish …” “Oh yes, the koi fish …” Jan trailed off, laughing. The “fat horse” is a stark white, almost spherical statue that perches happily on its tiny legs on the ledge of the gas fireplace. Nearby, a ceramic koi fish lays on the living room table, openmouthed. The white and gold scales of its belly present a sharp contrast with the deep brown of the table. With these touches of quaintness, it’s easy to identify where there is a backstory to be heard. The house is chock full of memories. Circling a room with Jan and Mike feels like speed-reading a short story collection, but still, no one piece feels overpowering and no story drowns out the others. It’s easy to spot one triumph ➤

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The media room downstairs is an ideal place for family and friends to relax. With a TV, a pool table, and comfortable leather couches to enjoy conversation, the room is the perfect setting for a small party.

their home surely provides in entertaining, perfectly balancing elegance and comfort. A sofa and a few comfy armchairs are gathered in the center of the room, facing inward. A few steps beyond is a gas fireplace. Both Mike and Jan come from households where the living room was “off-limits,” Mike said, so it’s important that their living room feels inviting and warm. “When people come over, we’ll see them naturally put their feet up on the table, which I don’t mind,” Jan said. “I think it’s one of the biggest compliments when someone feels that relaxed.” They also like people to feel comfortable dropping by to visit. The family has an unspoken rule: If the living room light and outside lights are on, neighbors and friends can feel free to stop for a visit. Another popular room for entertaining is the media room in the

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basement, which they jokingly refer to as the “man cave.” With its black leather couches gathered around a TV and a pristine pool table along the far wall, this room provides a calm, cool spot to relax. The couches sit adjacent, and settled comfortably in the corner between them is the home’s most historic piece — a rustic chest that Jan’s greatgrandfather brought to the U.S. when he emigrated from Austria. Even when the room is empty, one can easily imagine it filled with friends shooting pool, watching movies, or paging through art books and magazines in front of the wood-burning fireplace. The basement is what really sold them on the house, Jan said. The walls already were adorned with a smart wainscot detail and build-ins that provided ample shelving from floor to ceiling. The family uses these shelves to hold photographs from Mike and

Jan’s childhoods. Among the photos is a framed set of Gabby as a little girl, cuddling a prized stuffed animal named Monk. While much of the home displays the history of their family and marriage, the basement décor pays tribute to a history that is shared throughout Iowa and American culture. A large print of the Beatles hangs on the far wall; a small and unframed photograph of Ronald and Nancy Reagan waving to a crowd leans up against classic literature and modern political titles stacked on the shelf; and a wooden stool with the Hawkeye logo bears the signature of Steve Alford, Iowa’s former men’s basketball coach, penned in 1999. Another wall is lined with framed records. Jan and Mike switch out these rec-

ords from time to time, but usually hold artful album covers from the 1960s and 1970s. Even without Jan and Mike nearby to explain the story behind their belongings, it’s clear these items have accumulated over time, piece by piece, and each is dear. “If I never bought another single thing, I’d be happy,” Jan said. The result is a home that feels complete, but doesn’t have to be. One gets the sense that it has felt this way for a long time, while the family continued to bring in new artwork or mementos from their travels. It’s a refreshing type of completeness — one that can continue to evolve. ■

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llily i

love o

WATER LILIES THRIVE IN ART, EASTERN IOWA By Judy Terry ✦ Photos by David Scrivner


e urged his friends to come visit. “Please come Tuesday. The irises will be perfect.”

Yet his first love was water lilies, and he painted them again and again on his estate in Giverny, France.

Off to a corner, his palette and well-used brushes sit on a stool as though he had just stepped back for a moment, perhaps to admire not just his painting, but also the gardens he had grown. He created the gardens and then found inspiration from them.

To celebrate spring and art and the impressionist painter Claude Monet, Toni Russo and the Solon Public Library recreated his painting, The Water Lilies, in a glass showcase.

The flowers, of course, are artificial, but the colors, the arrangement, the imagination pay tribute to Russo as well as the artist. Her enthusiasm for her project escaped the window to the walls and counter beside it, giving one a study of many of Monet’s other paintings and personal history.

Weeping willow branches hang from above, irises in every shade of violet grow along the edges of the pond and, on the famous Japanese bridge, wisteria twists over its curves. Underneath, growing in the water, perfect yellow lilies bloom.

The water lily, also called Nymphaea, has been creating an exotic aura for thousands of years. There’s a mystery about them as first you only see large leaves floating on the surface of a pond and then, almost magically, a bloom appears.

Replicas of his lily paintings are suspended on the purple background, along with a large picture of the artist, whose role as the founder of impressionism brought shock to the art world.

But any home garden, whether you have a pond or not, can have water lilies. A simple tub on your deck will do. They grow from pots planted beneath the water surface and send up stems and leaves and then the star ➤

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shaped blossom opens and just seem to float. There are daytime bloomers that blossom in the morning and close at sunset. Generally they last for three to four days before they sink. This is a good beginner plant as it is hardy and dependable. Colors are many, except for blue and purple. Tropical lilies have exotic colors but are a little more temperamental. They like 70-degree water and, no matter how deep your pond, they need to be rescued well before winter threatens. If you plant lilies, use a heavy soil because fluffy potting soil will float right out of the container. If you plant using garden soil, it may need enrichment and aquatic fertilizers are available to push into the soil before you plant. The exhibit at the Solon Public Library is no longer available for viewing, unfortunately, as each season brings a different look to the showcase. Monet’s gardens have been restored in France, but if you are a water lily fan, there’s something in Amana that is just as spectacular. Lily Lake, located between Amana and Middle Amana, is a 170-acre lake covered with lilies that bloom mid-July to mid-August. Lawrence Rettig, who wrote, “Gardening the Amana Way,” says in his book that the

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entire surface “is decked out with the stunning beauty of lotus lilies. When they are in bloom, the intoxicating fragrance of these ivory-colored chalices wafts to shore on the wings of midsummer breezes.” He says that around the early 1900s, the lilies were first mentioned in print, and that the lake, being only 2 to 3 feet deep with oozing muck, is ideal for this American lotus species to grow and spread. By 1920, visitors came in droves from far and wide to see this unusual phenomenon, generally disrupting the way of Amana life. Yet, thankfully, the Elders decided to tolerate it since it only lasted a few weeks. No one seems to know for sure where these lilies came from, but Rettig’s best guess is they were planted by the Meskwaki Tribe that lived nearby. He writes, “American Indian tribes treated their native Lotus as a sacred plant with mystical powers and the Comanche, Dakota, Huron, Meskwaki, Ojibwa, Omaha, and Potawatomi used various parts of the Lotus plant as a source of supplemental food.”

The Solon Public Library's recent Claude Monet celebrated his famous painting, “The Water Lilies.”

No longer needed for food, the lilies on this lake continue to grow and perfume the area. It is an amazing sight as the lilies are so dense one cannot see the water. If you have not seen this lake — and even if you have — it’s worth marking your calendar and giving yourself a special mid-summer treat. ■

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ith computerized cars, refrigerators, thermostats and even entire automated “smart homes,” it was only a matter of time before nature’s call caught up. The next wave of toilets shows the future will be comfortable, automated and sleek, with commodes more closely resembling appliances than fixtures. Today’s toilets boast features including warmed seats, lids that automatically lift and close, deodorizing spritzers and self-cleaning mechanisms. The days of scrubbing on your hands and knees are over, thanks to wall-mounted toilets such as the Kohler Veil (which costs about $1,100).

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Gary Demanett, branch manager of Plumb Supply Co. in Iowa City, said the Veil is one of the sleekest models available, with a concealed tank and a steelframe carrier that supports a hovering bowl. “They’re a neat little item, just the styling of it,” Demanett said. “For cleaning purposes, it’s great.” The Veil also comes with a dualflush actuator, letting you choose between a 0.8-gallon flush for light waste and 1.6-gallon for bulk waste, conserving water and cash. Need more bells and whistles in your washroom? Donnie Karr, a licensed master plumber with Affordable Plumbing & Remodeling in Cedar Rapids, said Georgia-based manufacturer Toto is creating

“some of the best designs and products out there.”

with the Washlet S350 ($1,000 to $2,000) replaceable seat.

At the top of the line is the Neorest 750H ($2,000), a combination remote controlled toilet and bidet. This futuristic throne offers an unparalleled bathroom experience.

Simply install the Washlet onto your existing model to turn your toilet into a bidet, with front and rear warm water washing, with adjustable temperature and pressure controls, heated seat, pre-misting bowl, remote control, automatic air deodorizer and open and close lid, warm air drier and user memory.

The Neorest offers an ultra-high efficiency siphon jet flushing system, stain-resistant ceramic glazed bowl, eletrolyzed water, a “comfort spray” bidet with adjustable volume and temperature, adjustable heated seat, programmable energy saving system, air-purifier, night light, and automated flush and open and close lid. Not ready to commit to a toilet with more tech than your phone? Upgrade your old model

“We’ve been pretty much using the same type of toilets for 100 years,” Karr said. “We’re just starting to introduce this technology, even with faucets. In another few years, we’re going to need laptops to work on your faucets. Our computers are going to be able to talk to your products so we’ll know when things are going bad before you do.” ■

This photo (above) provided by TOTO shows a Washlet S350 high tech toilet. The company began marketing the Washlet in Japan in 1980. Now 74 percent of Japanese households have toilets of the high-tech persuasion, making them more common there than home computers. AP

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creepy crawlies THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


any would agree with naturalist David Attenborough that nature “is the greatest source of visual beauty.” And that includes the creepy crawlies: From snakes’ skins to the intricate physiology of the smallest bug, we can’t help but be impressed by the beauty of creatures that buzz, flit and slither.

In this photo provided by, "3 Snakes," by Christopher Marley incorporates elements of nature into contemporary art pieces.

Artists and designers have long used insects, reptiles and other

This photo provided by shows "Limited Aesthetica Prism," by artist Christopher Marley, who turns elements of nature into contemporary art pieces. Marley arranges masses of insects, like these butterflies, to create a dramatic kaleidoscope.

In this photo provided by Insect Lab, inspired by science fiction and science fact, customizes preserved insect specimens, such as this staghorn beetle, with antique watch parts and mechanical components. small animals as inspiration. Let’s grab our nets and catch a few of the most intriguing recent examples: In his “Pheromone” series, artist and designer Christopher Marley of Salem, Oregon, marries his passion for crisp design with a fascination for insects, sea organisms and birds by arranging them simply yet artfully on plain backgrounds in shadow boxes. A

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stripey mountain kingsnake seems poised to meander north of the frame in which he resides. A prion urchin looks like a tiny alien spacecraft, sprung from the confines of the ocean floor. Dozens of beetles are arranged like the iridescent squadron of an entomological army. Butterflies form kaleidoscopic prisms. The displays are an arresting mix of science and art. The specimens, which died of natural or incidental causes, come from museums, breeders and zoos around the world, Marley says. “Sharing the thrill of discovery is one of the most driving aspects of my work,” he says. ( )

In this photo provided by, New York-based artist George Voutsa’s illustrated images create dynamic wallpapers. Snakes slither in several directions, while a symmetry brings the imagery into a more decorative format. AP

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New York artist George Venson creates birds, snakes and octopuses in vibrant, painterly hues, and then arranges the images on wallpaper. He wants the walls to “come alive,” and there’s a sense of movement in each design. Snakes slither through backgrounds of ink, acid green or ruby. ( ) In Osborne & Little’s exotic Komodo wallpaper collection, holographic foil lizards skitter across a black, silver or gold background. ( ) Los Angeles designer Paul Marra’s Snake Lantern forges two sinuous creatures into the form of a steel and brass pendant lantern. ( )

Sculptor Mike Libby once found a dead beetle and got to thinking about how it had moved. He began dissecting and experimenting — at the same time taking apart an old wristwatch, and using those pieces — until he’d come up with the first of an ongoing collection of fantastical steampunk arachnids, bees and other creepy crawlies. He uses

real insect carcasses and bits from watches, vintage typewriters and old sewing machines to fashion carapaces, wings, antennae and pincers for his mechanical menagerie. ( ) As Aristotle put it: “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” ■

In this photo provided by Insect Lab, inspired by science fiction and science fact, customizes preserved insect specimens, such as this dragonfly, with antique watch parts and mechanical components. AP

This photo provided by shows George Voutsa’s hand drawn butterflies that flit with across a vibrant background in a wallpaper that’s part of a series that includes also octopi, birds and flowers. As he says, "The walls come alive.” AP

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JAPANESE BEETLE: The Japanese Beetle is considered one of the most devastating”pests in Iowa. The beetle comes out in July to feed on a number of plants, including ornamentals, fruit trees, rose bushes and linden trees. For ornamental plants, a systemic insecticide is recommended. For edible plants, such as vegetables and fruit trees, spray a safe topical insecticide, such as neem oil or spinosad.




THEY’RE EVERYWHERE! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE! You may see your backyard as a prime spot to relax during the summer, but you’re not alone. Backyard pests can wreak havoc on your landscaping, eat your hard-earned vegetable patch, and even keep you indoors. From aphids to animals to yellow jackets, Matt Moessener, a nursery employee at Pleasant Valley Garden Center in Iowa City, discusses how you can eradicate backyard pests and reclaim your space.

» EMERALD ASH BORER: No cases of Emerald Ash Borer have been confirmed in Johnson County, but the devastating green beetle native to Asia is spreading to surrounding counties, including Cedar. Affected trees should be treated with a systemic insecticide, which makes its way into the root system and makes the plant inedible.

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» APHIDS: Tiny but mighty, Moessener said aphids release an all-out assault on your garden, eating everything from annuals, perennials, vegetables and ornamental plants. “They cluster and feed on the plant, which distorts the growth of the plant and curls the leaves,” he said. The best way to attack aphids is with a topical spray, including pyrethrin, a natural insecticide produced by some chrysanthemum species.

» YELLOW JACKETS: Yow! Moessener said hapless gardeners can be surprised by yellow jackets when they bump their burrowed nests while doing yardwork. “If you notice a bunch of yellow jackets congregated in one spot or holes in your yard the size of the girth of a pencil, spray an insecticide,” he said.

MOSQUITOES: Is your backyard swarming with a cloud of mosquitoes? Take back your space by spraying a pyrethroid insecticide on your lawn and insect repellant on your skin. Moessener said mosquitoes breed in standing water, so stop the circle of life by emptying containers, including buckets and bird baths. ➤

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HOW TO PREVENT PESTS They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t wait until your yard is overrun by Mother Nature. Fred Meyer, director of Backyard Abundance, shares his top four tips to prevent pests. Diversity: Don’t plant roma tomatoes next to romas. By planting several different plants or different cultivars together — such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower — bugs who like to munch on one plant won’t decimate your whole crop. Look for pest-resistant varieties as well.

» CRITTERS: While they might look cute, critters such as deer and rabbits can wreak havoc on your vegetable patch. Moessener said rabbits cause more damage during the winter months while food is scarce, but they still will chow down on vegetables, perennials and annuals in the spring. Moessener said wire fencing will prevent animals from treating your yard like a buffet, and spreading coyote urine or Milorganite organic fertilizer will keep deer at bay. ■

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Separation: Planting the same variety of a plant? Keep ’em separated. Break out of the traditional row garden layout, which serves as a pest buffet, and plant in small groups around your yard. This increases the distance pests need to travel to get to the next plant — and decreases the likelihood a predator will nab them. Confusion: Interplant highly fragrant plants, such as chives, basil, yarrow, hyssop or mint, around your garden to confuse pests. Aromatic herbs will overwhelm the smell of your fruit trees, confusing deer or rabbits. Healthy Soil: Just as we nourish our bodies with the bounty of our gardens, we must nourish our soil. If a plant does get attacked, it will be more likely to bounce back more quickly when planted in healthy soil. Spread compost over any type of soil — even clay or sand — or steep compost in water for a “compost tea” to make a more potent solution.

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Profile for Iowa City Press-Citizen

room Magazine, June Issue  

"A Home with a View"

room Magazine, June Issue  

"A Home with a View"