Dennis and Pat Sheley call their house on Old Jacksonville Road in New Berlin "just a country home."
They are right on a couple of counts - it's a stone's throw outside of Springfield, and that qualifies as "country." And it's definitely a home. It's warm, inviting, fun and livable, so that qualifies it as a home. It's the "just" that most people will have a problem with.
The several-thousand-square-foot stone home sprawls on 100 acres of land, which also includes a large shop and garage, a boathouse, a gazebo, a man-made 10-acre lake adjacent to a smaller pond, and a small horse barn that is under construction. The house has eight and a half baths, five bedrooms, an indoor saltwater swimming pool, sauna, workout room, home theater, a bar with a second kitchen and still manages to not be ostentatious or gaudy.
When the Sheleys had Richard Hall build the house they planned to retire and stay in, they decided it was worth the extra effort to get all those little features they had admired in other homes in the new house. It is those extra custom touches that make the house exceptional and Pat and Dennis Sheley's decorating common sense that make it a home.
The front of the home features an imposing front door and decorative stone insets to add color and appeal. The two-story front foyer floor is done in Chinese quartz. Nine countries are represented in the stone and wood in the house, explained Dennis Sheley.
Off to one side is Dennis Sheley's office - still a work in progress. Off to the other side is the formal dining room, highlighted by a large, hand-crafted wooden table. The rich, polished wood is a perfect counterpoint to the burnished cherry hardwood floors in the dining room and great room. The great room has an imposing stone fireplace and an equally imposing built-in entertainment center. "Pat did most of the decorating, but I picked the wood and the tile," Dennis Sheley said. Both helped choose where the house sits on the land.
"We wanted it where we still kept the rural country feel," Pat Sheley said. Dennis Sheley said the lake didn't start out as 10 acres.
"We did some dredging to just clean out the original lake and hit a spring, so we had to expand to include it, and then we hit a second spring. Leaving the spring and not putting it in would have eventually caused problems, so we expanded to include it," Dennis Sheley said.
There is a perfect view of the lake and the wooded area at the back of the property from a sitting room at the rear of the house. Decks crisscross against the back and the side of the house. French doors line the back of the house to allow for access to the decks as well as enhancing the viewing area with the many windows.
"There's some interesting winds out here," Pat Sheley said. "So we put up clear panels around the deck fence as a wind break." The heavy breezes have also created a problem with the gazebo, causing damage to the fan there and also damage to the fan by the outside fireplace.
The kitchen has custom cabinets, granite countertops, plenty of space for cooking and storage and stainless-steel appliances. There is an elevator off the kitchen. "For when we get old," Dennis Sheley said with a laugh. The interior of the elevator is done in a type of cherry that complements the hardwood floors.
The lower level has rooms for guests and visiting grandchildren. There are loft areas on both sides of the great room. The stairs to the upper level have unique hand-worked steel balusters.
Many of the home's rooms have triple crown molding throughout to create depth and warmth. The master suite is done in French provincial style with complimenting English accents. The master bath, large enough to have its own ZIP code, has a huge whirlpool tub, granite countertops, marble accents, a large walk-in shower and separate dressing areas.
"Pat's area is upstairs," Dennis Sheley said with a smile as he takes visitors to the lower level. "This is my area." The lower level is a walk-out onto a large patio area. There is a smoker out there that Dennis Sheley, an avid hunter, uses. Grills are on the deck and there is also an outdoor fireplace and plenty of chairs under cover of the deck for entertaining. A windowed room containing a hammock is Dennis Sheley's private retreat.
The lower level has a pool table and some of his NASCAR memorabilia, as well as a more than full bar and kitchen. "We wanted to be able to entertain down here, so we thought we might as well have a kitchen area," said Pat Sheley. The built-in wine cooler/cellar has neon lighting when the door is open and the bar area features a hot-dog rotisserie as well as an ice cream machine.
The large workout room and adjoining full bath and sauna are on the lower level as well as plenty of over-stuffed furniture for relaxing. Then there's the home theater. It has a dozen over-stuffed recliners with cup holders.
"We're sold out for the Daytona race," said Dennis Sheley with a laugh. "There's people waiting for seats." No matter if you can't find a seat, there is plenty of space to grab a pillow and lie in front of the large screen.
Pat Sheley calls it the Hershey theater because of the color of the chairs. The rest of the lower level is done in cinnamon and cherry colors.
Off the theater is the 18-by-38 foot pool. It is saltwater, which is more eco-friendly, and that's a big concern for the Sheleys. The lower level also contains the house "brain," a computerized climate-controlled area that also helps monitor the heating and cooling system, which is geothermal.
"There is 50,000 feet of tubes buried under the lake for the geothermal system," Dennis Sheley said.
Off to one side of the house is a pretty gazebo that matches the house and has a view of the lake and a pond off the side of the lake. It, as well as the boathouse and rest of the home, is wired for surround sound.
The boathouse matches the house. Off of the four-plus car garage is a driveway, a landscaped area with a stone wall containing the name of the estate, "The Broken P," and Sheley's shop.
There's still work to be done at the Sheley homestead, which is barely two years old. Landscaping and stone pathways are still being built and the couple is still deciding on what to put in the lawn area in the center of the circular drive.
Sheley house contributors:
* Contractor Richard Hall
* Central Illinois York Inc. - geothermal
* H & M Masonary
* Dana Pfeiffer/Pholishus - wall, ceiling treatments
* Richard Taylor - paint work
* Greg Chapman Stone
* Evergreen Landscape
* Global Marble
* Marx Fireplace and Lighting
* Harv's Woodcrafting - dining room table
* John Ruby Electric
* Jack Caldwell - built-ins
Story published Friday, December 5, 2008 ( Volume 3, Number 7 )