Solid Foundations: Crusader Homes builds with a sense of family and community

2013-07-07T13:30:00Z 2013-07-10T17:32:05Z Solid Foundations: Crusader Homes builds with a sense of family and communityMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
July 07, 2013 1:30 pm  • 

Home is where you are loved, where you are comfortable, where you can rest and re-energize. Beyond that, our sense of place – that feeling of being “at home” - is so much more than the individual dwellings we inhabit.

It’s about having a connection with the people who live around you. It’s about neighborhood and community.

Personal experience shapes our definitions of home and community. Everyone’s will be different. However, geographic boundaries - and the people who live within them - define a neighborhood.

In Hawthorne, you’ll find families out and about enjoying the peaceful backdrop of their growing new neighborhood with rolling hills, tree-lined streets and extra-wide sidewalks for leisurely strolls. These families, who share the unique experience of being relative “newcomers” to the neighborhood, are also vested in the larger community of Valparaiso.

Conveniently located near Highway 49 virtually at the midpoint between Valparaiso’s vibrant downtown (south) and access to Interstate 80/94 (north), Hawthorne features an impressive array of beautiful American Craftsman-style homes, adding to its appeal as an ideal setting for raising a family. Just ask Matt and Lovelyn Palm, the parents of nine children between the ages of 11 and 10 months.

While earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Valparaiso University, Matt had already decided he wanted to call Valparaiso home. He first met Lovelyn during a football game at Purdue University, where she was working toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Their first child, Chloe, was born in 2003. The following year Matt completed his Master’s degree in Business Administration and Management at VU.

“I worked for a local builder from 2001 to 2007,” he said. “Our second daughter Anika was born in 2005, and our third daughter, Ellie, was born in 2006. That’s when we decided to build our first model in Hawthorne and Crusader Homes was established.”

Today, the family of 11 is living in the company’s third Hawthorne model. Matt and Lovelyn are proud to say that they have built nearly a dozen custom homes in the neighborhood, plus several more on various home sites throughout the community, including Executive Park, where Crusader Homes is the exclusive builder of homes more appropriate for younger buyers and empty nesters looking to downsize.

“We look forward to building a new model every couple of years,” said Lovelyn, who retired from nursing to devote her full attention to the family and Matt’s business. “It’s important to keep everything fresh and new from the construction standpoint, and people love to buy builders homes. They get a lot of extras for a great price.”

“We’re a home-based business, so people knock on the door all the time,” Matt added. “The kids are used to it. Everyone we’ve built for in Hawthorne knows the family, and we’re always happy to see them – whether it’s a social or business-related visit. It’s never been a problem for us. For new clients, we do prefer to set an appointment, just so we can ensure that there will be plenty of time to tour the model and answer all their questions.”

In stark contrast to the experience of working for a builder during the housing boom, Matt and Lovelyn nurtured Crusader Homes through the lean bust years. Along with growing their client base, the Palm family expanded as well. Bianca, their fourth daughter, was born in 2009, and Clayton, a baby boy from Africa, was adopted that same year making them the Palm’s first set of “twins.” Two more sons, Nico, now the oldest child, and Jude, Ellie’s “twin,” were adopted from Uganda in October of 2011. Biological twins, Emmy and Evie, are now 11 months.

“We’ve been on a number of mission trips – on our own, through Calvary Church and Kids Alive International, and with our adoptions,” Matt said. “We’ve been to Uganda, where we assisted with the installation of a clean water well, as well as Kenya, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic where we provided construction services and visited children in orphanages. Lovelyn can also provide medical assistance and has gone more than I have. For example, she’s been to Uganda seven times, and I’ve been there twice.”

Along with their current home/model, which is a true showplace for the quality craftsmanship, unique design features and distinctive style Matt and Lovelyn bring to the finished product, Crusader Homes also has an available 2-story Arts and Crafts style home with 3,500 total-sq-ft, five bedrooms, three and a half baths and a three-plus car garage on a wooded lot with a screen porch and partially-finished raised daylight basement located at 2200 Nottingham Drive nearly complete in Hawthorne and priced at $430,000.

“Whenever we build a spec home, we customize it like we were going to live there,” Matt explained. “A lot of thought goes into the design. Lovelyn is all about organization, so you’ll find quite a few handy built-ins including the oversized walk-in kitchen pantry, lockers in the mudroom and bookshelves on the second floor landing. In this particular home, we really focused on a unique style inside and out, starting with a rich, dark color palette. There’s walnut finished hand-scraped birch hardwood flooring throughout the main floor with a beautiful custom-distressed rustic mantle (gas-fired wood burning fireplace) and bar top in the open great room/kitchen area. Plus, the custom kitchen cabinets are topped off with quartz counters and complimentary glass backsplash. There’s a barrel ceiling and window seat in the largest kids’ bedroom with a great custom paint effect on the walls. This home is loaded with fabulous details, right down to the wiring for a flat screen TV in the screen porch.”

There’s also a nearly 1,600-sq-ft 2-story with three bedrooms and two and a half baths available in Executive Park (just across Burlington Beach Road from Hawthorne) at 4108 Crown Drive and priced at $230,000.

To learn more contact Matt and Lovelyn Palm of Crusader Homes at 219.405.8018 or You can also stop by either of the available Crusader Homes during their open house tomorrow from 1-3 p.m.

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