Building a Dream
A Bit at a Time, for a Lifetime
Written by Chrysa Smith | Photography by Aliza Baran
If you’re going to dream, dream big. That seems to have been the philosophy of Delavan
Township homeowners, Mark and Becky Baker. A few years ago, they turned almost two dozen acres into immeasurable, treasured family moments on a property that continues to offer fun times and precious memories. For this couple, there’s truly no place like home. “We have no intention of building again,” say the Bakers. And there’s really no reason to. Their 7,500 square foot home has just about everything a family with three growing boys
(ages 9, 12, and 13) could want or need. The wants were diverse. Becky grew up in both the
country and city, and has a love for animals. Their dream home had to be a place where she
could nurture that desire. And Mark? Well, he’s a sports guy, with three sports-loving boys who take full advantage of all the fun features of this homestead. And everything, yes everything, was taken into consideration when they set out to build their forever home.
“We had the land years before building the house,” Mark says. The land was agriculturally
zoned, so there was no problem for Becky’s establishment of ‘Bakers’ Acres’—the hobby
farm that feeds her soul. “I started with chickens,” Becky says, “Then I added rabbits,
four mini donkeys, a flock of chickens, a collection of cats, and two working farm dogs—
Maremma Sheepdogs, which are the guardians of the property, keeping outdoor watch both day and night. With an Italian heritage protecting livestock, these two ensure that the farm and its creatures are kept safe and in working order.
You might say Mark loves playing—golf, basketball, pickleball, tennis, volleyball, and
there are on-site courts both outdoors and in the barn that accommodate it all.
Mark’s business, selling electronics to gas stations, keeps him busy both in and out of the
home. As Becky winds up and down with her morning and evening tending to her animals,
Mark enjoys the gym/game room and theater in their walk-out basement. It was created by
grading and moving dirt to accommodate a gentle slope in the front of the house that looks
out on a stocked pond with a zero-depth entry beach and fountain, which then slopes back
toward their property toward the direction of the lake.
For years, the Bakers had attended the Parade of Homes events, where various builder homes are on display. They collected ideas for what they wanted when it came time to build and they chose builder, John Favreau of Evergreen Designs in Janesville, to execute. He said, “The Bakers came to a Parade Home of ours in 2012, and Mark said we would build a house for him in three years.” Evergreen has been working with them ever since. Both
Favreau and Glynn agree: the Bakers are a young, fun family. It was a pleasure to work with them on this time intensive and detail-oriented project.
According to Interior Designer Kathleen Glynn, “Theirs is an updated farmhouse feel, “They have a nice open-concept kitchen, so when we picked out finishes, we kept several things in mind—the three boys, family nights, how the home would be used on holidays, if they would get pets, and how the average day would run.” The kitchen cabinetry is cream with a light brown glaze that gives it a rustic look. The island is dark gray, which ties in with the stonework from throughout the kitchen. The breakfast nook holds a rounded
banquette built to fit the curvature of the house. It seats 10 to 12 people and serves as the main dining table.
A beautiful stone wood-burning fireplace anchors the wall of the family room, which ties in with the stone used in the kitchen and on the exterior of the home
and in the landscaping. “In the primary bedroom suite, I wanted to create a refuge/sanctuary that was calm and relaxing,” Kathleen adds. A lovely bay window and gas
fireplace add to the coziness. Becky describes the interior’s timeless design: “The house
flows effortlessly. I wanted it to be beautiful, but also livable. We have three boys so it’s a fine line of elegance with functionality that feels like a family home, and not a
house where you feel you couldn’t run and play and live life.”
The exterior is composed of the same natural-colored stone as the interior, set off by vibrant blue smart siding. Becky says, “It’s all custom, with six bedrooms, a study, four full bathrooms and two half baths, plus the common living areas and basement. On the main level, a three season room out back provides great views of the property and slight protection from the elements. In the entry, there is a custom-made curved staircase with cherry handrails. In fact, most of the interior doors are cherry, while the flooring is hickory. Mark says that various unique built-ins are Amish-made. The electronics, on the other hand, are state-of-the-art. Everything is automated,” adds Mark, “Everything from lights to shades to TVs, speakers, air conditioning and heating, is controlled through a phone.”
From the sound of it, you might think that the property is in a remote location, being set on 23 private acres. But Mark says, “Delavan is a smaller town. One of the appealing things is that services are within three to four miles. On the property, there’s the country feel but the convenience of being in town. Our kid’s friends are within bike-riding distance.”
The property was originally purchased from an older woman. According to Becky, “She had offers to make the land into a development, but said no. When she learned a young couple wanted to raise a family there, she wanted us to have it.” It was farmed, making it a perfect fit for Becky, and had plenty of room to play, suiting Mark as well. There is an orchard out back as well, where apple, pear, cherry, and peach trees grow. And deep within the home, a root cellar, where they’ll be able to store their fruit. We’ve saved the most unique feature of the home for last—an adult-sized, enclosed slide that takes the family and their guests from upstairs to down in a hurry. No kid or guest can resist it. Through the years, the Bakers have added more features to their property as their kids’ interests have grown and changed. In addition to the sport courts and putting green, the kids enjoy riding four wheelers and camping on the wooded lot. The common space aspect of the home makes it a great place for the kids to be with their friends and come together for family time at the end of the day.
Becky says, “It’s fun to see dreams develop and come into reality. If Mark wants something done, he gets it accomplished. He dreams, and dreams big.” The Bakers are living the dream, thanks to a seller who chose this special family to nurture this cherished homestead.