When it was time to talk kitchen countertops, Dana reached a hurdleshe'd always wanted soapstone. "I first learned about it on This Old House," she says, confessing that she's seen every TV episode. "Tommy (Silva) used soapstone in his house and says it's great." Her problem was that while the material is popular in the Northeast, it isn't in the Midwest. "The granite guys here said it would stain, and the contractors didn't know where to find it."

Dana persevered, even finding a nearby Mexican restaurant that had a soapstone bar. "The bartender said they serve hundreds of people there a night. All they need to do is oil it when it gets gray." It wasn't long before the soapstone for Dana's countertops and fireplace surround was being delivered.

One of the most important aspects of Hannan's home design was the custom built-in cabinetry, desks, and shelving. The "cubbies," as Doug calls them, were a necessity for the couple, who admit that they disagreed frequently over Dana's Americana collections covering every horizontal surface. "I call it C.O.D.crap on display," says Doug. "I got tired of moving three things to make a sandwich."

Architect Hannan played mediator, creating plenty of open shelves and deep window ledges to hold Dana's treasures. While the blueprints reflect built-ins throughout the house, the couple knew they wouldn't be able to afford to put them in all at once. So Hannan suggested that he design them all anyway, and that Doug and Dana install them as their budget allows. Still on the wish list are built-in dressers in the master bedroom, the desk in Doug's upstairs office, and desks in the children's bedrooms.

Hannan also saved valuable space by building the second-floor rooms right into the roof, giving them that old-house attic feeling with lots of slopes and angles in the ceilings. "It's a way of recovering otherwise dead space," he says, noting that the children's playrooms and Doug's office are tucked into dormers. Nine months after tearing down their old house, the family moved into their new home. Having settled in for a while now, they wonder how they ever lived without a mudroom, a pantry, all the shelving, and the open kitchen. In fact, they're currently making plans to bring in their contractor to complete Hannan's design for a finished basement, which will include a family room, a kitchenette, a craft room, and a guest suitefor another 1,000 square feet of living space. "We're using every bit of this house," says Doug.

And the neighbors? "The feedback has been nothing but positive," he says. "They approve." And they're very happy not to have to sit on folding chairs in the driveway anymore.
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