Leon and Dorothy McCullough are not novice Lake home builders. Their first home here at the Lake of the Ozarks was
completed in 2005 but, although theyl iked the house, they saw a lot across the cove that was larger with more shoreline.
The second home, with almost 9,000 square feet, took two years to build.
The couple hadn’t planned to move from that extraordinary home,but when a buyer appeared with an attractive offer, they accepted. So three years ago, they sold the house and started planning another magnificent Lake home.
They were without a house for about two years while securing property and starting the design process. Their two prior houses
were very traditional. But, “If we’re going to build,” Dorothy said,“let’s do something different.”
The design was done by the Thomas Construction team. Dorothy and Leon’s input was paramount in deciding the final design, which she likes to call transitional. The McCulloughs have a longstanding association with Thomas Construction. “We have built three houses for Leon and Dorothy, and we would love to build 20 more,” said one of the partners, Dan Lind, after completing the second house in 2016. “They are truly a joy to work with.”
This new home is night-and-day different from their last Lake home. The 8,000-plus-square-foot structure sits perfectly on two
lots totaling nearly two acres that form a point. The lot is framed by a black aluminum fence featuring an electric gate. The fence keeps the grandchildren in the yard and allows space for Zack, their flatcoated retriever, to run.
“Thomas Construction is famous for placing the house perfectly on the lot,” Leon says. “We have a wonderful view of the
Lake in every room.
The 8-foot-tall mahogany front door features an arched transom also trimmed in mahogany. Similar planking forms the ceiling of the portico, which is supported by four stone pillars. The main body of the house is flanked by double-car garages boasting red cedar doors, tile floors and granite countertops. The home’s exterior is constructed of natural stone and stucco. The intricate roofline is made up of 24-gauge matte black metal with standing seams. Under the roofing material is an ice- and waterproofing membrane.
The couple’s second home had a vibe of Old World elegance. It featured turrets, dark inlaid wood, coffered ceilings and walls painted burgundy and gold. The new house is sleek and modern, with 20-foot windows offering breathtaking views of the Lake. “I’m all about the big windows,” Dorothy says. “I love the views we have at this house.” All of the windows are equipped with motorized shades that can be operated remotely.
The foyer shows off walnut floors and a white lacquered barrel ceiling. The ceiling was originally stained wood, but Dorothy likes the clean look of white and how it brightens the space. On the wall beside the front door is a hand-carved Tulip Wood Chinese screen that the couple found in Palm Desert, California.
From the foyer, a hallway leads to the master suite. The hallway also has a white glossy barrel ceiling and features an elevator big enough to accommodate four. The master bedroom is done in calming shades of blue, white and taupe. There is a comfy sitting area in the room, and a huge sliding glass door directly in front of the king-sized bed, which opens onto the upper deck. One
fascinating feature in the bedroom is a convex mirror that reflects the outside in an interesting manner.
The master bath features a marble shower with a sliding glass barn door, double vanities with polished chrome fixtures and a water closet. A large walk-in closet here leads into the laundry room. Also just off the foyer is the living room, with an open-floor design featuring a huge bank of windows that brings the outdoors inside. The room is done in shades of blue and taupe. A gas fireplace graces one of the natural stone walls, television above.
An open-design formal dining room is between the living room and the kitchen. The large, beautiful table is lined with 10 leather club chairs. When they aren’t entertaining, Dorothy uses the table to work on jigsaw puzzles during dreary, rainy weather.The magnificent kitchen is done in white and silver. A huge Cambria island cut at angles affords more seating. The taupe leather club chairs have been placed in front of and at the sides of the island, which has a double, under-mounted sink.
The Dacor appliances include a six-burner gas stove, double convection ovens and a Sub-Zero refrigerator with two freezer drawers. There are several lighted upper glass-front cabinets showcasing display pieces. The kitchen is highlighted by a built-in Miele coffeemaker that can make a variety of beverages, and a stacked wine refrigerator capable of holding 200 bottles of wine.
Behind the kitchen is the butler’s pantry with a bar sink, clearglass-door refrigerator and open storage shelves. Next to the kitchen-dining room area is the welcoming hearth room. This cozy family area features a stone fireplace, built-in shelves displaying antique Chinese warrior figurines and a television. “This is where we spend most of our time,” Dorothy says.
The last room on the Lakeside upper level is Leon’s office. “He got the corner office with a view,” Dorothy says. Graduated oblong windows bring in the view of the Lake and are a nice architectural touch. Leon’s antique French minimalist desk is in juxtaposition to the ornate hand-carved antique Italian hutch he had retrofitted to the space.
There are two covered patios for outdoor dining — one upper and one lower. The upper deck boasts a pizza oven in addition to an oversized grill, and a table with seating for six. The lower patio has a grill, a built-in cooler and an under-counter refrigerator, all framed in natural stone. There also is a large screen television and seating area.
The McCulloughs can be defined as eclectic. “We like the unusual, playful and funny… something different,” Dorothy says.
One example is a 5-foot cast-iron bench fashioned of lilies-of-the valley that was once gold, now silver. Perched on the edge — as if
ready to pounce — is an enormous black bronze cat. On the floor below the cat are two tiny mice — the objects of his attention.
There are other touches of whimsy throughout the house and grounds. The powder room has pieces of the signature black-and-white Courtly check by MacKenzie–Childs. There also are outdoor sculptures by the same artist.
The stairs to the lower floor of the McCullough home open into another gathering space. One focal point is the large bar featuring a leather-finish granite top, which has a soft sheen that’s not as shiny as polished granite. Leather granite is textured, which is great for hiding water spots and fingerprints. The bar also has a raw, or chiseled, edge giving the space a rustic appearance. An under-counter refrigerator, plenty of storage and several open display cabinets finish off the space.
The pool room features an unusual spectator bench, which is a modern-day take on a shoe shine bench; it stands bar height, can
easily seat three people and has a matching foot bench. The pool table is a take on “mid-century meets modern,” with hairpin
legs and a sleek-sided top. Behind the pool room is a wine cellar, highlighted by a beautiful, hand-carved Italian bureau that was retrofitted for the space.
This lower level has four bedrooms, each with its own bath. A second master suite is situated at the end of the house. It features
a bedroom facing out toward the Lake; an en suite bathroom with a shower with a built-in bench as well an oval tub set at an angle
surrounded by marble-finish porcelain wainscoting.
Another, which is Dorothy’s favorite, is the bunk room featuring four custom built-in beds with matching ladders. The third includes a sitting room with a fireplace and television. The last of the four has two queen-size beds.
Also on the lower level is a second laundry room and a pool bathroom that can be accessed from the outside.
Outside, the free-form pool is somewhat kidney shaped with a hot tub at one end, and flanked by two natural stone-lined ponds.
Waterfalls at both sides of the pool pour into the ponds. Two bronze geese stand nearby, spitting water into the pond. The McCulloughs’ children raised concerns about the safety of the pool with so many young children playing in the area, so a fence was installed. Also on the grounds is a Bocce Ball court.
Five years ago, the McCulloughs moved from Oskaloosa, Iowa, to Des Moines, where Leon runs several companies that produce fire hydrants and other water works products. They come to the Lake every two to three weeks year-round. But the couple has started staying for longer periods of time as Leon is easing into retirement at the end of March.
Their two daughters, Meagan and Morgen, husbands Aaron and Tom, and four grandchildren ages six months to 5 years love coming to the Lake. The family likes to hang out by the pool, go boating on calm days and play golf. Their favorite restaurants are the Blue Heron and Baxter’s.
Although the McCulloughs moved into this home about a year ago, Dorothy says she is still tweaking some of the rooms. She wants
to find more whimsy, as well as construct a splash pad water feature in front of the house, not only for its aesthetic value, but as a
place for the grandkids to play. The McCulloughs’ attention to detail and uniqueness of the home’s amenities truly make this house
one of a kind. •