Dale Schawe's home really is his castle.
His nearly 7,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home in Emerald Bay Estates in northwest Wichita features two turrets, a gargoyle, a dungeon, secret compartments and hideaways, a mini-moat and even a rat or two.
“Every castle needs a rat,” said Schawe (pronounced Shaw-vay) as he pointed out the fake rat that sits just inside the entry of the home, next to the massive wooden front door.
A few years ago, Schawe started drawing up plans for his dream home, one that would feature the elements of a castle, since “everybody loves castles,” and showcase the variety of décor and architectural items he's been collecting for years that look right at home in a castle-themed home – like an antique cathedral door he had set on a base as a décor item, and a dragon sculpture that sits under a sofa table.
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“My mom and I, since I was about 10 years old, would go to the Parade of Homes and I finally was fortunate enough to build one myself,” said the retired commercial electrician and former owner of Atlas Electric. Twice a year, the Wichita Area Builders Associations holds its Parade of Homes, showcasing area model homes.
Schawe moved into his castle in 2017, not far from the model home he'd purchased in Emerald Bay Estates in 2008 and where he spent hours determining the layout and features of his dream home, which sits on the sandy shoreline of the 66-acre lake used by residents for water sports.
“I designed it and gave the scaled drawing to Craig Sharp and they tweaked it,” he said.
He researched castles on the internet and toured Hearst Castle, the California home of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.
Considering Schawe's background as an electrician, it probably doesn't come as a surprise that the lighting design, done by Kansas Lighting, is one of Schawe's favorite features of the home.
Many of the lighting features – from the exterior lights to the atmospheric lights in the turret ceiling above the foyer to cove and cabinet lighting in the kitchen to the basement bar lighting – have preset, programmable options to provide lighting in various options. There's red and green for the Christmas holidays, blue and red for patriotic holidays and red and yellow for the Kansas City Chiefs, for example.
The exterior lighting capabilities of the home – linear track lighting in the front and spot lighting in the back – are even a favorite of his neighbors. “At night people will be boating and they'll call and say 'turn on the lights,'” said Schawe.
To get to the front door, visitors to Schawe's home – which is among those featured in Saturday's Junior League of Wichita kitchen tours – cross a sort of moat, a small water feature that flows beneath what looks like a wooden inset into the sidewalk. A gargoyle sits atop a shelf in a small cove next to the front door.
During a recent tour of the home, Schawe pointed out some other features he particularly likes:
▪ A secret compartment behind a bookcase in the TV viewing area of the massive first-floor open floor plan.
▪ A galley-shaped pantry accessed through what looks like cabinet doors, made by Gaskill, next to the KitchenAid fridge.
▪ A ladder that leads to one of his favorite, unique spots in the home – the rooftop of the second turret that overlooks the development's lake and Schawe's pool below. He once made a basket into the poolside goal from the rooftop, he said.
▪ A basement “dungeon” space that serves a functional use as the home's storm cellar with 18-inch concrete walls. A jail cell door from Uniquities, wall finishes by Danielle Studios and a “Welcome to Arkham Asylum” sign – a reference to the Gotham City facility for Batman's villains – give the space a prison feel. “It's a great place to decorate for Halloween,” Schawe said.
▪ Massive red spotlights on either side of the TV in the basement recreation room that he can flash every time the Chiefs score a touchdown.
Exposed beams in the open-concept kitchen and four custom-made stained glass windows made by Bearden's – featuring a fleur-de-lis, a chalice with grapes, an architectural arch and a coat of arms – in the dining area also give the home a castle look. Two angel sculptures above the entry door reportedly came from a vineyard in Italy, helping give the home a European touch, as well.
Schawe's castle allows him to showcase some of his other treasures, from his 1969 Corvette dream car in a garage capable of holding up to nine cars “if you get them in here just right” to two of his favorite pinball machines in his basement recreation room.
A Metallica pinball game, a nod to Schawe's love of metal bands, is “the funnest pinball machine I've ever played,” and the Gorgar pinball machine reminds Schawe of his childhood when he played a similar machine every day after school at a pizza joint near Wilbur Middle School.
A photo of him at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro sits behind the bar.
Besides turning on his exterior lights for the enjoyment of others, Schawe also likes entertaining, and his home gives him plenty of space to do that. For the past eight years, he's hosted a wine and cheese party for his neighbors in Emerald Bay Estates, and he often holds watch parties for Chiefs games and Wichita State basketball games.