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A labor of love

Published: Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 10:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 11:47 a.m. CDT
(CNA photo by SARAH BROWN)
With the help of Sterling and Lisa Jons and Jason, Jared and Chloe Hagle, Jack Sickels was able to bring his wife's vision of a fairy house to life.

When Jack Sickels of Creston set out to build his wife a backyard retreat, it was a true labor of love.

After visiting a Renaissance festival in Minnesota, Sickels’ wife Reta told him, “Someday I’d like to have a fairy house for me and the grandkids to play in.”

Once he retired from UPS after 34 years, Jack began work on his wife’s dream project. He started October 2012 and added finishing touches this month.

It takes a village

The 14 by 16 by 16 foot structure was framed by Creston residents Sterling and Lisa Jons, sided by son-in-law Jason, Jason’s brother Jared and Sickels’ granddaughter Chloe Hagle.

The interior, which features an office space, living room and loft-style bedroom, is completely lined with tongue and groove car siding, reminiscent of a tree house. However, each board is sanded with three coats of varnish for a more modern and finished look. Cabinetry and a countertop from American Home Design Center were added to complete the look.

A staircase, which leads from the entrance up to the sleep area, is made from raw logs Sickels sanded himself. Each carpeted step is made from half of a log — flat side up.

Sickels and his wife worked together to come up with a design.

“Jack wanted to make it whimsical,” said Reta. “But, I see it and he does it.”

To add an element of colorful light and whimsy, Jack purchased a stained glass window from the Fontanelle Methodist Church, which he reframed, resoddered and hung infront of a window inside the fairy house. Furniture throughout the house is a mix of vintage and new. A rusted, full-size, antique brass frame the Sickels’ rescued was refinished and is now coupled with a white, vintage chenile bedspread. A crate was pulled apart, sanded, stained and converted into a side table. A doll house, chest full of dress-up clothes and armoir full of toys also welcomes young guests.

While touring a fairy village at a Renaissance festival, Reta fell in love with the playful structures made of wood, stone, straw and sod. The Sickels’ fairy house is designed to have a similar ambiance, complete with modern amenities such as a smoke detector, cooling and heating unit and alarm system.

Making memories

Reta said her plan is to use the fairy house as a scrapbooking studio, playhouse for her 10 grandchildren and just a place to “close out the world.”

After 50 years of marriage, Reta said the fairy house is the most loving gift her husband has ever gifted her.

“Some men buy their wives jewelry or flowers — he built me a fairy house,” said Reta. “It’s a magical place you can go to ...Everybody needs a magical place.”

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