Home suite home
Every morning Dianne Churbock and Dolly Hileman get to enjoy a cup of coffee with a special man in their lives – their father.
By the time they arrive in the kitchen, Dianne’s husband, Tom, and his father-in-law have already discussed the weather and perhaps their plans for the day. Dianne and Dolly’s father, Tom Kinney, is an early riser, and the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee generally starts wafting through the air about 4 a.m. He has his breakfast, cleans up and put the dishes away before his son-in-law arrives about 5:30 a.m.
The Hollidaysburg family does not have far to travel to visit Kinney. For the Churbocks, it’s just a trip down the stairs of their two-story home and a few steps into Kinney’s private suite, where he spends his days reading the newspaper, watching “Bonanza” on his big screen TV or baby-sitting his sister-in-law’s dog.
His daughter, Dolly, lives next door. She stops by most mornings to say hello before leaving for work and maybe to share some news about Kinney’s three grandchildren or seven great-grandchildren.
Occasionally, the grandchildren knock on his door, too, often with great-grandchildren, ages 5 to 12, in tow.
“It’s not uncommon for them to pop in and see Pap,” Dolly said.
Kinney, who is 88, takes it all in stride.
He is comfortable in his private suite with its open living room/kitchen area, private bath and bedroom. He admits missing the home he and and his late wife, Pinky, shared in East Loop. However, he enjoys the freedom of being able to do what he wants, including tinkering with an old motorcycle that he used to take his daughters for rides on when they were kids.
Suites or flats for aging parents are becoming a trend, and builders are accommodating adult children’s wishes. Even Lennar Homes of Miami, a national home builder, is designing homes with suites and is calling them NextGen homes.
Instead of going that route, the Churbocks worked with Pat Baechle of Baechle and Associates Architects and Jim Brown of J.R. Brown Construction to add a seamless addition to their home.
Baechle said he suggested an L-shaped final outcome to allow more light into the home, provide more privacy, less street noise and a better meshing with the roofline.
The pitch of the roof on the addition, new shingles and all new siding on the stone and sided structure provide a continuity and harmonious flow when looking at the home’s exterior. Under the suite is a full basement for storage with plans to convert part of it into an entertainment center.
The interior of the apartment is designed with seniors in mind. Dianne said someday it will become a living quarters for her and her husband, Tom.
Brown constructed accommodating features in the bathroom, such as a vanity and commode that are higher than the standard and support for grab bars. The shower area was enlarged for accessibility and a separate tub offers an alternate choice for bathing. The home’s hallways also are wide enough for a wheelchair if necessary.
Like other families who desire to be close to their parents, the Churbocks wanted a place where Dianne’s mother, who was living at the time, and father would be safe while maintaining their independence.
“We wanted (the suite) to be built on one level with everything convenient for them,” Dianne said.
“Both Mom and Dad fell (while still living at their homestead),” Dolly said.
Tom Kinney broke his hip about 3 years ago, requiring about six months of care in a nursing facility.
But despite the health issues, the Kinneys did not want to leave the home they had hand built in East Loop. The suite was ready by the summer of 2012, but they did not move until January 2013.
Dianne said they did not want to push her parents, but their new home was there when they were ready.
Although Dianne and Dolly’s mother only got to live there for about four months, their father is able to enjoy his retirement years with family nearby.
For them, his move to Hollidaysburg has enriched their lives. Kinney, who retired from being a clerk at Freedom Supply in East Freedom at age 84, has more than eight decades of stories and experiences to share with his loved ones.
“Life is about experiences and relationships,” said Tom Churbock, adding that he enjoys hearing Kinney talk about his life.
He said when they visited his father-in-law at his East Loop home, their conversations were limited because they devoted time to helping the senior couple out.
“We would do the chores and spend a little time in conversation,” Tom Churbock said. “Now, we’ve replaced the chores with quality time.”
After dinner, the Churbocks migrate to Kinney’s suite where he usually has a story to share.
“We get to share Dad’s history,” Dianne said.
Dolly noted that their parents were hard-working people.
“We learn about what our parents went through. Our conversations allow us to slow down and appreciate them more,” Dianne said.