America's Best Shops: Geise Shouse

Iowa Farm "Shouse"

Geise Shouse (Progressive Farmer image by Jim Patrico)

Dave Geise's friends tease him: That shiny new farm shop he recently built is not really a shop, they say, it's a "shouse." Or, maybe it's a "barndominium." Whatever they call the structure, Geise is proud of it. "It's a dream come true," he says of the 127-x-60 Morton building that seamlessly marries the utility of a shop with the comforts of a house.

On the shop side, Geise's "shouse" contains two service and storage bays for equipment, and a mezzanine for smaller storage. On the house side, it contains a kitchen, dining room, entertainment space, a corner office with big windows and -- maybe most importantly -- a wrap-around porch that offers awe-inspiring views of Iowa's rolling Loess Hills.

All of this sits about 100 yards from the Geise's four-bedroom house outside of Logan, Iowa.

Why build a "shouse" when you have a house so close? The 52-year-old Geise needed to accommodate the eventual remodeling of an old farmhouse, his farming operation and a growing off-farm business. He and wife, Ginger, decided to put three ventures under one roof while they contemplate a new or remodeled house.

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The Geises own two companies: Concrete Leveling Solutions and CLS Foundation Repair and Waterproofing, which together have 22 part-time and full-time employees. They rent some cropland to others, and Geise tends 25 to 30 cow/calf pairs and 40 acres of pasture. He also hays about 30 acres. In addition, with help from son Bo, he does conservation work including terracing, brush clearing and ditch cleaning. All of which means Geise has equipment -- both for the farm and for the concrete business -- that requires service, maintenance and storage.

MULTIPURPOSE BUILDING

Six years ago, when the couple moved to the farm, they acquired a 100-year-old house and a shop/storage building that was a mess. They wanted to replace both with something more modern and organized.

The shop had to come first. The more the couple discussed it, the more it made sense to be creative with new shop plans. If they included living and office space in the shop, they reasoned, they wouldn't have to live in the chaos and clutter that accompanies home remodeling. That might postpone remodeling for years, but "I'm fine with that," Ginger says.

What had started as a 64-x-60 storage building on the drawing board slowly grew over a five-year planning period to a 127-x-60 multipurpose space.

The new building is divided into three distinct zones. On the north is a 64-x-60 storage bay that was the centerpiece of the project. It has a 24-x-14 overhead door, an exterior access door and an interior access door to the 36-x-60 middle bay. An 8-x-9 overhead door allows easy movement of smaller equipment from one bay to the next.

LIVING AND OFFICE SPACE

Entry through the front door opens up 1,600 square feet of living and office space. On the left is an entertainment area with a flat-screen TV mounted high on the wall. In the center is the kitchen with a tall bar and seating for eight.

Beyond that is a large corner office with windows on the south and west sides. It's "command central" for Geise, with desk space under the windows and plenty of files.

The porch is the soul of the living space. It flows from the southeast corner of the building all around the south side. It has two large seating areas, gliders and a hot tub. It also has those gorgeous views of the roller coaster Loess Hills.

Ginger calls the porch "her favorite spot in the world" and says, "Some nights Dave will sit on the porch until 2 a.m. listening to music and looking at the stars."

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