Duce's Wild: Making your home a monument to your ideals

Published: Thursday, Aug. 30 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

In the end, more than 1,500 people traveled miles to see our semirural home. Our builder encouraged us to host the tour alongside other contractors and suppliers because we were so involved in the process. We also wanted to encourage voting so our builder could win the People’s Choice award for the second year in a row.

We learned this week that our home was 10 votes away from the coveted honor behind a mansion that cost four times more with all the finest decorations and amenities.

The slim margin of the public’s preferences surprised us all, but here are a few other interesting aspects of building our family abode that we’ll always remember:

• Positive feedback

Our builder couldn’t believe the absence of criticism from attendees. Last year, he endured vocal critics galore of his million-dollar home that ironically won the first- place prize. We treasured visitors’ compliments of smart living, peaceful feelings and beauty that had as much to do with the natural surroundings as the art pieces that included borrowed bronze sculptures, original landscape paintings by Jon Bowcutt and Katheryn Buxton, as well as LDS art of the First Vision, temples and latter-day prophets.

• Busy as a beehive

Our builder couldn’t believe the landscaping was completed almost overnight. Our secret came in the form of home teachers and a counselor in the bishopric with the hidden talent and prior experience of installing intricate sprinkler systems on golf courses before he moved to Montana. We also had generous friends helping us clean windows, lending flowering pots and clearing away the final bits of construction dust.

• Parental support

I’m not sure Mormons have the corner on the market of generous parents, but we could not have built our home without their support. From sweeping sawdust every evening to planting bushes and trees, our parents in different ways offered energy that was not age-appropriate. We hope to say thank you in the future by offering assisted living under our roof whenever they are ready for that transition in life.

• Strengthened marriage

We were warned of the toll home building takes on a marriage, but we ironically found more strength because of it. Unfortunately, this year was marred by other stressful tragedies, but it was the hard work of finishing our home that brought us together when we’d rather give up on everything.

Now that the dust has settled, literally, we are more grateful than ever for the process as well as the end result. Our home is more than a structure of sticks and stones, but a monument of a Mormon family who had faith to make it happen.

Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Thursdays on desnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com

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