Home & Garden

A home builder's home

As homebuilders themselves, Paul and Ann Scallon created a dramatic design for their new Cedar Rapids home. Built into t
As homebuilders themselves, Paul and Ann Scallon created a dramatic design for their new Cedar Rapids home. Built into the hillside, the home’s front exterior features rustic beams, ironwork and expansive boulder landscaping. Photos courtesy Scallon Custom Homes

For many people, building a new home comes with a steep learning curve, educating yourself about endless home systems and features.

But when Paul and Ann Scallon built their new Cedar Rapids home, they had a distinct advantage. Paul has been building homes for more than 25 years. And Ann has worked sideby- side with him, helping homeowners with everything from the building process to design choices and interior finishes.

And this wasn’t the first time they had built a new home for themselves — it was the fifth. Moving every few years, the family had lived in their last home for six years. “Building again for ourselves was something we were both definitely ready for,” Ann said.

The lot is in a beautiful, wooded area but came with a variety of obstacles.

“It was an absolute hill,” Ann said. “We knew it was going to be extremely challenging, but it was the ideal lot for us because we had the vision. Paul could see its potential. The house was a perfect fit for the lot.”

Preparing the lot involved removing hundreds of loads of dirt and basically carving into the hillside so the home could feature a walk-out lower level.

Instead of building ordinary retaining walls, the Scallons incorporated boulders in the front and backyard, including a two-tiered retaining wall in the back that blends beautifully with the surrounding woods.

Together, the couple customized the house plans to make best use of the lot, incorporating a slight rustic flair with beams inside the house and striking beam accents on the front of the home. The Scallons were able to include even small features, like the wrought iron railing on a high window they had thought about for years.


“I give Paul so much credit,” Ann said, referring to the “whole look” of the front of the house. “We knew we wanted to do exterior beams, but it’s a very high-pitched, multilevel front which needs to be perfect in the design, which in our opinion, it turned out to be. Paul completely designed all of it, and I think it’s absolutely beautiful.”


As you walk through the front door of the expansive, 5,574-square-foot home, you enter a striking, open foyer.

“It was a main feature for me,” Ann said. “I wanted to have double doors and a foyer table and a very open space that’s very welcoming.”

The foyer leads to a gourmet kitchen and a great room, with its wall of windows that looks out on the covered deck and the backyard.

The kitchen features white cabinetry and a wealth of crown molding — “We put crown molding around everything,” Ann said. Double wall ovens are surrounded by pale-hued stone. White quartz countertops complete the look and extend over to the custom-designed butler’s pantry.

The kitchen island is expansive, with a reversed tray ceiling over it to visually anchor the space.

“It’s good-sized,” Ann said. “We really wanted an island big enough to seat at least five or six people.”


With 10- and 12-foot ceilings throughout and a variety of high-end finishes, the home has a showstopper vibe.

The formal dining room, for example, has intersecting beams on the ceiling that form an X, designed by both Ann and Paul.

Black interior doors add to the interior’s sleek elegance.

After years of helping other homeowners choose finishes for their new homes, Ann said she and

Paul had no trouble picking finishes for their new home.

She encourages others to take their time and trust the professionals for advice when it comes to picking fixtures and finishes.

“You should ask yourself, ‘Can I walk in and love it 10 times a day?’ That’s something to really think about,” she said. “I always look to things that


aren’t necessarily super trendy but will stand the test of time as well as choosing what you personally love.”


There’s a lot to love in the master bedroom, too, with its gas fireplace, his-and-her closets and beautiful view of the backyard.

The master bathroom is an amazingly large, yet intimate space, complete with heated flooring.

“It’s a different design than we’ve ever done,” Ann said.

Separate vanities are on either side of the room, with a walkway leading to a gorgeous, self-standing tub with a stone wall surround. Floating shelves and a chandelier above the tub add to the spa-like feel.

Two of the home’s four other bedrooms are brightly painted, just the way their kids wanted.


A winding open staircase leads down to the 2,800-square-foot finished lower level.

The family spends a lot of time together in the home’s lower level. In addition to a TV seating area, there’s room for a pool table and a ping-pong table. The wet bar area features black cabinetry and stone columns. An oversized exercise room is nearby.

A half set of interior steps leads up and out to the outdoor patio.

“Sometimes, a lot can be questionable whether it can be a walk-out or not,” Ann said. “This design forces the walkout, having the steps go up and out to the patio. We love it. It’s so worth it to have that big open space. And it gives a little more drama downstairs with the railing and stairway leading up

and outside.”

This type of walk-out set-up almost brings the outdoors inside. “We’ve been down here so many times and come nose to nose through the glass with deer and turkeys,” Ann said.


Ann said one of her favorite spots in the house is the covered deck area outside.

“It’s a private, secluded lot, really tucked in here,” she said. “So it feels like we’re out in the country even though we’re in town.”

The deck features composite decking and a tempered glass railing.

“Instead of a traditional railing, we wanted tempered glass to have a clear view to the outdoors,” Ann said. “With the boulders and all of the landscaping, it really is a beautiful view.”


A concrete gas fireplace in the middle of the deck completes the look. The vaulted roof over the covered deck is stained cedar, complete with arches and big beams.

Looking back on their building experience, Ann admits the build was more involved than any other they have ever done for themselves.

“Paul said it was the most challenging house he’s ever built, the lot, the house, everything,” she said. “But it’s all been worth it. He really deserves all of the credit having the vision and the experience to take the most difficult lot and make it all greater than I ever could have dreamed of!”

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.