balancing act

Charm meets function throughout the Pipers’ custom home
By Jon Shoulders // Photography by Angela Jackson

When designing and building their two-level Bargersville house, Melanie and Tim Piper didn’t let themselves get boxed into a particular aesthetic category or stylistic genre. Instead, they let their family lifestyle dictate their design decisions, with one overarching factor: comfort.

“We wanted the house to feel warm and inviting for any people coming in,” Melanie says. “We wanted it to feel like it had always been here and made sense. With being on a lake, it’s a little bit cottage lake house style, but there are modern touches, too. We have a large family, so it was important that the home has that comfortable and inviting feel for family and friends.”

The Pipers purchased a lot in the new Aberdeen subdivision in Bargersville in June 2019 and embarked on a design and building process for the 5,500-square-foot house with the architecture and construction team at Duke Homes, which finished in February.

“We used to live out in the country in Mooresville, and when we were thinking about building, we thought about staying in that kind of setting,” Melanie says. “But we heard about Aberdeen, and I knew how nice it would be to have good neighbors and be social,” she says. “We love it here.”

To kick off the design phase, the Pipers presented their basic interior and exterior ideas to the Duke Homes staff, which includes owner Mike Duke, manager Kevin Hamilton and architectural designer Regina Salas.

Plus, the Pipers have an internal connection: Melanie drew on several years of experience as an interior designer for the five-bedroom, five-bathroom home.

“We used the Houzz app and Pinterest a lot for ideas for the house and landscaping, and met with Mike and Regina several times to share what we liked and wanted to do,” Melanie says. “It was very simple, and Duke Homes did exactly what we had envisioned. We had all of the materials in mind, and Mike’s people went with it.”

Hamilton says the Duke Homes staff was excited to team with the Pipers for the design and construction of the home, which was the first to be completed in the Aberdeen subdivision.

“With clients like Tim and Melanie who have a vision, our job as custom builders is to guide them along and offer input when part of a plan has to be adjusted for the home to remain functional,” says Hamilton, who served as project manager for the Piper home. “We made a couple little tweaks, but for the most part they had a plan for their colors, cabinet choices and those kinds of decisions. They worked very well with Regina to make it happen.”

The couple’s vision included an open floor plan with a master suite on the main level, and three bedrooms as well as a spacious living area downstairs where their sons, Josh and Luke, tend to hang out.

“After the architect’s initial design there were some little changes we made, like heights of doorways and things like that,” Tim says. A sleek fireplace in the main living area, along with modern light fixtures, black window trim and metal stair railings, complement white built-in shelving and hardwood flooring. The result is a balanced aesthetic where no particular style overpowers any other.

“The black interior windows have been a hot thing in the last couple of years, and we love that,” Melanie adds. “The house is definitely a mixed style. There are traditional bookcases with contemporary handles and a rustic mantel with the modern fireplace.”

Abundant natural lighting floods into the central living space, screened-in porch and kitchen, which features stainless steel appliances and man-made quartz counters.

The home’s lower level is equipped with a pool table, three televisions for maximum viewing options, an extra laundry room and plenty of Ohio State University sports memorabilia; Tim lived in the Buckeye State for several years and developed an affinity for the school’s athletic programs.

“My mom lives here with us, so we’re usually up on the main floor with her, and the boys are downstairs with their games and stuff,” Tim says.

One of the couple’s favorite features is a small room off the kitchen on the main level, with cabinetry and an extra refrigerator, where the family can leave coats, bags and shoes.

“We love it in there. We can put our stuff in there, and it keeps things clean in the rest of the house, especially since we have an open concept,” Tim says. “If it gets really dirty in that little room, we can just shut the door to it if we have people over.”

Comfort and sensible design choices also pervade the master suite, whose walk-in closet features a washer and dryer.

“Instead of putting our clothes away in baskets, we just have a laundry room right in the closet,” Tim says. “We had it separate before, but we asked ourselves, ‘Why?’ It’s awesome. By doing a big closet, we don’t have to have drawers, and it makes the bedroom seem so much bigger.”

With summer upon us, the Piper family is excited to take advantage, for the first time, of the home’s backyard amenities, which include a pool and pool house as well as a sunken hot tub.

“The sunset view is something we’ve really enjoyed since moving in,” Melanie adds. “We think the pool area will be great for family and having company.”

Melanie grew up in Decatur Township and met Tim 31 years ago when her brother, who worked with Tim at the time, made an introduction. After a stint in Mooresville, the couple moved to Johnson County 22 years ago.

Melanie ran her own interior design and decorating company until 2008, at which point she took over operations for a fundraising company for the next 11 years while continuing to take on interior decorating jobs on a part-time basis. Tim, a New York native, runs Piper Logistics, a warehouse and transportation company, with three of his brothers, Greg, Rob and Joe. The company began in Greg’s garage in 1994 and is now headquartered on Hillside Avenue in Indianapolis along with three satellite locations on Indy’s east side.

The couple’s reason for staying on the southside of Indy through the years reflects their home design approach: They feel the Johnson County community offers warmth and comfort.

“The sense of community here is big,” Melanie says. “Even though it’s a big school corporation, you still have that community intimacy, which is great. Both of our boys played sports, and that was a great avenue for us to develop long-term friendships. It’s been fun to see the southside grow over the years.”