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Open concept of Quintana's new house keeps family of five connected
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Open concept of Quintana's new house keeps family of five connected

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A hefty coffee table separates a pair of sofas that create a comfy conversation space in the great room. Natural light streams through a wall of east-facing windows into the great room. There’s access to the patio and Eddie’s grill through the door near the dining table.

The Quintanas appreciate their space in southeast Kearney home.

KEARNEY — Flanked by flags of the U.S. military, there’s a tidy home gym in a corner of Kirstina and Eddie Quintana’s garage.

Like the family portraits decorating the couple’s new home in southeast Kearney, the gym reminds Kirstina and Eddie it was athletics that brought them together.

To be more specific, it was Kirstina’s success as a mixed martial arts competitor that led her to Eddie. Kirstina wanted lessons from an experienced boxer, and Eddie was her man.

She said she was strong in other phases of mixed martial arts, but “I wanted to be a better boxer, so I asked Eddie for his help.”

In Kearney, the name Quintana means boxing, and with Eddie’s direction, Kirstina won championships in two weight classes.

These days 

While the proximity to 11th Street allows them to get just about anywhere in Kearney in just minutes, the location is important to their children: Sabree, 13; Abran, 10; and Morgan, 8.

Abran and Morgan attend Bryant Elementary School, and wanted to remain in that school after moving into their new home. The new address in southeast Kearney puts Sabree in the Sunrise Middle School attendance area, so all of the kids are happy about their schools.

And, like their parents, they also are pleased to have their own rooms. While Todd, Ed and Gene of McElhinny Construction were busy building the new home, the five Quintanas lived with Eddie’s mother, Mae Quintana.

The time at her place meant plenty of delicious cooking, but the trade-off was having all five of the Quintana family members sharing a single room.

Eddie said the close quarters were worth it because of his mother’s hospitality, and it kept the Quintanas out of the way as construction on their new home unfolded.

Eddie said he and Kirstina had planned to buy a home, but the purchase fell through. After talking with Gene McElhinny, they decided a new build was the way to go.

The couple said timing became a bit ticklish because of the coronavirus surge.

“Note to self,” said Kirstina, “Never build a new home during a pandemic.”

They said construction was going well, but the delivery of light fixtures was late. Gene McElhinny advised Kirstina and Eddie to go shopping again, and they selected new fixtures and canceled their previous order.

Acquiring different fixtures was a temporary challenge, but the couple is happy with the result. They also are relieved that McElhinny completed their home before the pandemic-induced spike in lumber prices.

“The happiest day was when Gene told us we could move in,” Kirstina said.

The Quintanas have some exterior work to finish on their lawn. The back needs some fill to raise low spots, and both front and back lawns will be sodded and some decorative flowers will be added.

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Although some exterior work remains, the house is an eye-catcher with its jet black stonework and trim. After sundown, can lights in the eves accent the exterior.

The heated garage is large enough for three cars, Eddie’s Harley-Davidson and the home gym with weights, exercise equipment and punching bags.

Guests approach the main entrance on a wide sidewalk and get a full view of the great room that’s the center of many family activities. The living room has a comfy conversation area with facing sofas. There’s a table in the dining area and more seats around the kitchen’s island. There are plenty of food preparation spots on the island and on the counter tops on either side of an impressive gas range.

Eddie and Kirstina enjoy cooking. Thirteen-year-old Sabree said she likes to “hop in” and help in the kitchen, especially baking.

No matter who is cooking, the open concept layout helps keep the family connected and guests entertained.

Access to the Quintanas’ covered patio is through an attractive glass door by the kitchen. The door and wall of east-facing windows allow light to stream in and gives Eddie, the grill chef, a view of the action, regardless if he’s indoors or outside.

Garage access is through the laundry room/pantry.

Opposite the kitchen, on the other side of the great room is the master suite. Kirstina and Eddie’s quarters have an antique queen bed, tandem sinks on the vanity, a walk-in shower and a generous walk-in closet. The children’s bedrooms also have lots of closet space.

Kirstina chose “Agreeable Gray” for the wall colors throughout the house. Gray wood plank flooring runs throughout the main floor, while thick pile tan carpet keeps things comfortable in the basement family room and children’s bedrooms.

Limiting the wall colors and flooring allowed Kirstina to unleash pops of color to enhance visual interest.

The Quintanas chose a standard forced-air heating and cooling system, but they went with a tankless water heater system that saves energy while delivering hot water almost instantly. They finished the space below the front stoop to serve as a storm shelter.

Kirstina, who was an arms instructor in the U.S. Navy, has her gun safe in the storm shelter.

Eddie is the superintendent of the block department at Kearney Crete and Block. Kirstina operates a photography business, Kirstina E Photography. She’s thinking about setting up a room so she can sort her customers’ photos at home. Eddie is planning to complete the concrete patio this summer.

Both said building a new home was exciting and satisfying, and they were in good hands with the McElhinnys.

“I think the whole thing was fun,” Eddie said.

The children are happy with the new home.

Morgan, 8, likes how her blue body pillow stands out in her room. Sabree, 13, said, “I like the kitchen. I like to hop in and help out.”

Abran, 10, said, “I like everything the same.”

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