Modern Marvel

Greenwood couple’s home bursts with
contemporary art and style

By Jon Shoulders

»LuAnne and John Benson’s Greenwood home is much more than just a comfortable dwelling that they built to enjoy their retirement years. It stands as a physical manifestation of the hobbies, passions and aesthetic preferences they have cultivated throughout their lives.

After deciding to downsize from an eight-acre property off Morgantown Road where they spent 18 years, the Bensons opted for a one-level floor plan with a basement for storage. They added a number of unique features, such as a fireplace with no mantel and a floating hearth, a remote-controlled motorized screen for the back porch, a drop-down ceiling in the living room and discerningly placed artwork — much of which was crafted by LuAnne, who continues to pursue a post-retirement passion for painting. John formulated the home’s basic layout, which includes a three-car garage, three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. LuAnne pored over stacks of magazines for design and decoration ideas, after which the Bensons hired Rick Campbell, a Greenwood-based residential and commercial builder, to bring their combined vision to fruition.

Campbell says the six-month building process held many enjoyable challenges. “In Johnson County we don’t do very many contemporary homes at all,” he says. “A lot of my clients use somewhat typical, traditional styling, and even though I kind of jump out of the box a lot on my own, this was even more different than that and has a very contemporary style. They came up with most of the design ideas on their own, and I needed a lot of direction to fulfill their wants and desires.”

Bright, colorful accents throughout the entirety of the 2,800-square-foot home, awash in an abundance of natural light and set against a backdrop of predominantly white-toned walls, shutters, flooring and appliances, are in large part the result of LuAnne’s desire for a lively, cheerful ambience. “I’m from New England and everything is dark there,” she says, adding that she and John moved into the home in December 2014. “All the historic buildings are very dark, and that always bothered me. We wanted to surround ourselves with glass and light and exposed windows, and see nature. Also, my favorite color is orange, and it’s fun to have all that bright, fun orange around.”

Porcelain flooring and built-in shelving with minimal detail lend the home’s central living area an ultra sleek and modern feel — a theme that is also taken up in the kitchen through Corian countertops, Italian laminate cabinets and a glass backsplash. “Quartz and granite are just too busy for us for counters, and we wanted a real smooth and clean look,” LuAnne says. “It’s easy to clean, too. We did it first at our condo in Florida, and we loved it so much we did it at the home as well.” The Bensons hired J.D. Dick, a consultant with Cabinetry Ideas design studio in Indianapolis, to design the kitchen layout.

Campbell says the home’s windows presented difficulties in the building stages, but the challenges were worth the result. “John did not want trim around the windows, which is different,” he says. “Normally we case the windows, so it took a lot of work from the drywaller to get that really clean, contemporary look. Also, the ceiling in the great room is probably the most unusual ceiling I’ve ever done. That was a challenge because we didn’t have it drawn up, so we had to design it on site, and then we were able to tuck lighting in behind it.”

One of the home’s three bedrooms serves as a fully equipped art studio in which LuAnne tends to various paintings-in-progress. The space serves as an artistic haven both for LuAnne and, often, the couple’s grandchildren, Aga, 17, Kyler, 12, Kali, 10, and Kenley, 5. “Kids are so busy these days with their iPads and things, but when my grandkids visit and get in there they sometimes sit for almost an hour doing art stuff with me,” LuAnne says. “They love going in there, and that’s been a really neat way to spend quality time with them.”

An artist in his own right, John’s canvases are the home’s front and back yards, where he spends time landscaping during warm months, occasionally breaking for rounds of golf with friends. LuAnne stays busy as a choir participant at Mount Pleasant Christian Church and a member of Greenwood’s Southside Art League.

John, a Lafayette native and Purdue University graduate, met LuAnne, a native of New Hampshire who attended Indiana Business College, in 1980 in Boston while both were working for the Balfour Co., a jewelry and publishing business. A year later they settled in Indiana and spent the next 30 years running the J.D. Benson Co., a private distribution firm that specialized in fraternity and sorority jewelry as well as recognition products for corporate businesses, until officially retiring in 2012.

Aside from spending time hosting friends or presiding over impromptu art lessons for the grandkids, the Bensons, who will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this year, typically trek down to their custom-built condo on Longboat Key in Florida at least once a year — often with their children, Courtney and Justin, and the grandkids.

“We also love inclusive trips to Jamaica and try to go there for anniversaries,” LuAnne says. “There’s just something about it that’s special, and we love the people there. Then we get to come back to Greenwood where the people are so great. I don’t want to go anywhere else. It’s just a perfect fit for us.”