HOLSTEIN, Iowa | Eric Hanson occasionally steps outside to his back yard and hits an 8- or a 9-iron 150 yards to the No. 8 green at the Holstein Country Club.
He's got his father-in-law to thank.
"Christina's dad, Marc Kjar, leveled a spot in our back yard," Hanson said. "It's our tee box."
Aaron Nedved, superintendent at the course, added to the fun by placing an old ball washer and its connected trash container to the site. Christina Kjar-Hanson, the landscaper of the family, plants flowers in the wastebasket to let golfers know it's not there for trash.
The true No. 8 tee box is located on the course, of course, 100 yards or so west, but still barely a short chip from the back yard that services this 4-year-old home the couple had built on Benning Drive, a street that's helped Holstein realize an uptick in new home construction since it rose from a field of corn only a handful of years ago.
"There are two homes being built right now," said Hanson, a Holstein native who returned home 11 ago years to work for the community's largest employer, the homegrown VT Industries. "Another three homes will start in the spring. There's a lot of activity here."
Holstein City Clerk Kay Hanson disclosed that of 39 lots in Phase 1 of the East Ridge Subdivision located east of the golf course, 22 have sold. Another 14 lots can be developed in a second phase, a cul de sac as Benning Drive extends north in the future, growing ever closer to Russ Kraai Field on the southeast edge of the Ridge View High School complex.
"Much of the building has taken place here in the past couple of years," said Christina Kjar-Hanson, a native of nearby Ida Grove, Iowa, and a photographer for 15 years.
She recently purchased and worked with H&H Builders of Kingsley, Iowa, to remodel the old McGuire Auction Co. site on Main Street for her office and photography studio, Christina Kjar Photography. Choosing H&H Builders, she said, was a pretty easy selection, since that was the firm she and Eric chose as general contractor for their 3-bedroom home four years ago.
"My dad (Marc Kjar) dug the basement and H&H Builders did everything else," Christina said, noting how the construction process began in March 2014 and was completed for their move-in just six months later.
Previously, the couple had lived in Eric's home on Main Street, the home in which he was raised, since they wed on June 29, 2013. They sold that home to Eric's brother, Gavin Hanson, and moved east to the golf course.
"I do like to golf," Eric said. "On the weekends in the summer, that's what I do."
"We liked the location," Christina added. "Plus, we wanted to build something new."
The spacious home with its open concept boasts 2,400 square feet of living space on the main floor. The basement, which will be finished in a matter of months, has just about that much space.
The main floor is comprised of three bedrooms, an office and 2.5 baths. The great room, which opens to expansive windows on the west side of the home, allows easy viewing of the golf course and patio, where the couple loves to spend time eight to nine months of the year.
"Our outdoor space in the back has a covered patio with a couch and table," Christina said. "Eric has a smoker and he loves to cook."
The kitchen has a two-tiered island/bar that runs 12 feet from end to end. Its lighter colored top, which comes from VT, naturally, matches that found throughout the house, adding to the airiness.
"We love the natural light," Christina said.
Wood cabinets, a railing and wood components on the front of the home have a Craftsman bent.
"We love the wood and the white subway tile between cabinets and counter tops," Christina said, adding that the most-used place in the home, thus far, is the kitchen/great room area.
The couple selected laminate wood flooring throughout the living area, save for the three bedrooms, which have carpet. "We wanted something nice and durable," she said of their flooring option.
The master bedroom, situated with yet another view of the golf course, has the space the couple likens to a motel suite. Amish furniture, custom made, comes from Matt Furniture in Spencer, Iowa.
"We picked the wood, the color and designing, then it was built and delivered," said Christina, motioning toward the bed and its matching night-stands and dressers.
A Jacuzzi soaker (no jets), shower and double vanity highlight the master bathroom, which, like the other bathrooms, has dura-ceramic flooring. The master bathroom also features a walk-in closet.
The home ideas came together through a couple of floor-plans. While Christina searched on-line for components she sought, Eric had floor plans crossing his desk at VT almost daily.
"We copied-and-pasted from two different plans and presented it to H&H Builders," said Christina, who noted that H&H Builders also constructed current residences for her parents and Eric's parents. "The process went so smoothly. It really went well."
In a matter of months, the plans and construction fell into place, ultimately landing this couple in a place they hadn't considered years before. "I never thought I'd live in Ida County," said Christina, who lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for five years after her days at the University of Northern Iowa.
Initially, she came back to work with Don Knop of Knop Photography in Ida Grove, then branched out to Storm Lake, Iowa, for three years. She ended up moving to Holstein, where many of her friends resided.
Eric, who matriculated to Iowa State University following his graduation from Galva-Holstein High School, had worked and resided in Hills, Minnesota, for a few years and then at Citibank before moving back to Holstein for the job at VT Industries.
And while the couple met at a Halloween party in Holstein in 2006, Christina said Eric was at her 21st birthday party in Cedar Falls a few years before that. "He was at my party and I didn't know it," she said with a laugh.
The couple said they enjoy everything about life in Holstein, including their employment opportunities and the chance to work on behalf of the community with a number of young professionals.
"Lots of people have come back to Holstein in the past decade, to work, or to farm, or to start businesses and families," she said. "Holstein has a lot going for it."
And what it doesn't have, Eric said, can easily be found in nearby cities such as Sioux City, Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux Falls, the Twin Cities and the Iowa Great Lakes. Other sites such as Storm Lake, Denison and Ida Grove are all within a 30- to 45-minute drive.