"We bought this house on the spur of the moment. We were not looking to move," explains Debbie Cook, thinking back seven years when she unexpectedly moved with her husband, Don Cook, and daughter Cassidy, now 13, while her other daughter was in college. "We moved in two weeks," says Cook. With only 14 days till Thanksgiving, it was a busy time of year. Daughter Kristi, now 24, was coming home during her first year at Tulane University and naturally thought she would be visiting her house in Lake Forest where they'd lived for the past 12 years. On the night the Cooks picked her up from the airport, her dad drove them toward Anchorage.
Kristi said, "Dad, where are you going?" Her dad kept the secret even longer, "I just want to show you this house with all these lights." Continuing with the previous owner's tradition, the Cooks had decorated the house with thousands of Christmas lights . As he pulled into the driveway, Kristi began screaming, "What are you doing?" That's when Don Cook broke the news, "Welcome to your new house." "She about died - she had no idea," says Debbie Cook.
The previous owner was a girlfriend of Cook's and told her the house had been on the market for more than a year, and they had lowered the price by $100,000. That sparked enough interest for Cook to convince her husband Don to go look at the house. "We walked through the house, and I said, 'Don, do you like it?' He said, 'Well it's okay, Debbie, but do you have to have it?'" Cook nodded, so her husband looked at the real estate agent and said, "Write it up." "That's how he does things," says Cook.
If that wasn't exciting enough, only one month after moving in, the Cooks gave a party for 150 people. "I look back on it and I think, 'My gosh, how did I do that?'" says Cook. Interior designer Don Harris was a huge help hanging all the pictures in the house, and Silver Spoon catered the event. "You know," says Cook about the caterers, "when you have them you don't do anything."
Only six months prior to moving, Debbie and Don Cook, who is owner of Renaissance Development, had put in a pool at their Lake Forest house. Over the years they had added on a family room and a laundry/computer room, and they basically ran out of room to add on. "I felt kind of stifled," says Cook, explaining that creating new areas for their home was "kind of our pastime."
Buying the house in Anchorage gave the Cooks new opportunities for creative projects. Debbie liked the location of the new house, and Don liked the acreage that came with it along with the magnificent landscaping. "All these big trees he loves," says Cook. "My husband always said, 'I don't want to plant trees that will take forever to grow. I'll be dead by the time I get shade.'"
Since moving into their home, the couple has glassed-in the porch off the master bedroom, adding bookshelves, a corner cabinet for the TV, and added on a six-foot bay window. They also added an electric entry gate at the front of the house, built a pool and pool house, added a pergola off the back of the house, and rebuilt all the railing on the deck.
Don Cook was particularly interested in having the home completely rewired with speakers in every room hooked to the stereo system and all the lights inside and out wired to a computer system. It took months for Super Home Systems to complete the work. As for future projects, plans are already in the works for adding on a six-car garage ("my husband has always wanted to collect old cars,") and a conservatory.