Half-court home court
The gym can be a hassle. Parking usually isn’t great, lines form for equipment, and there always seems to be unattended children running around. Looking to shoot hoops? Forget about it. If a gym has a basketball court, it’s seemingly always occupied either by league play, pick-up games or packed during an open gym.
Alas, what if you had your own basketball court and gym?
When Laurie Schake and her family were working on plans for their new West Des Moines home, she knew there would be room for a basketball.
“My husband always wanted a basketball court,” Schake says. “I would say that was mandatory when we were finding a lot for the house.”
When they moved from their house in Clive to their newly built West Des Moines home in 2003, his half-court wish was granted. The move was exciting for many reasons, but designing their new house from the ground up was the biggest one.
Having gone from a spec house where everything was predetermined for them, they enjoyed being able to create what they wanted, especially different architecture. They also reveled in finding a lot with more privacy. Their previous house was located on a corner, leaving it exposed and with a backyard backed up into several of their neighbor’s yards. A non-corner lot lush with trees gives them the privacy they previously craved.
“If I had to do it over again, I would have done it when my kids were younger,” Schake says of the basketball court.
With her three kids on the verge of entering high school when they moved, they became heavily involved in activities and had less time to spend in the gym. Now in their 20s, the kids take full advantage of the court whenever they’re home on break or vacation.
Having lived in their home nearly 15 years, one might think the novelty of an indoor basketball court would have worn off, but that is not the case. Schake thinks the court sees more use now then ever.
“My husband works out in the gym every day, and I use the treadmill and watch TV in there,” she says.
The couple has been and continues to stay active. The gym also has an exercise bike, pingpong table, dartboard, putting green, free weights and a myriad of other sports gear. Yoga is a common activity for Schake, but her personal favorite gym activity is paddle tennis.
“It’s a little bit like handball and a little bit like tennis. It’s what old people do when they can’t do a full-court, tennis-like play,” she laughs.
When it’s not being used for athletics, her family uses it for parties. Her son once used it for a pre-prom dinner and hosted 60 kids. Dance parties are also known to break out from time to time. Last fall they had a Halloween party, and her husband took time to make the gym extra spooky with blaring music, strobe lights and a fog machine.
“Nobody stepped foot in there; he was so bummed,” she says.
With a 25-foot by 30-foot court and 24-foot-high ceilings, the gym is surprisingly well hidden. The main door to the gym is accessed through a secret door in their basement, blended into the woodwork of their walls and sans door handle.
“The builder we had, that was kind of his trademark, so we were just trying to figure out a place to incorporate that,” she explains. “But we also wanted it to feel like a home and not like there’s a gym.”
Interestingly, Laurie and her family aren’t the only ones in her neighborhood with an indoor basketball court. A handful of her neighbors also have them, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else making better use of it.
While their court continues to get a lot of use, with three kids grown up and out of the house, downsizing has been a topic of conversation.
“We talk about it but haven’t come to any firm conclusions,” she says.
Until then the couple remains happy with their home and relishes in being steps away from a workout. Because here, there is never a line for the treadmill. ♦