The Zabels

Why write this blog…

Though we dreamed of building a home for many years, it was easy to find excuses for not doing it:

  • We don’t have enough money
  • We don’t know if we want to stay in this area
  • We have never built a house before
  • …etc…

After spending our anniversary poring over home magazines and discussing our love of good design, yet again, we decided it was time to quit making excuses and just make it happen. After all, if you are designing your own home, you can tailor it exactly to your budget and needs.

This blog is our way of sharing our experience with other “average middle class Americans” like ourselves who are doubting that design can be affordable and accessible to anyone other than the extremely wealthy upper class. We encourage you to post your questions and comments on our blog!

Zabel FamilyAbout Us

Steve and Melissa met at Shawnee Middle School back in 19-something… Though they were friends for many years, they didn’t date until their early 20s, and were married in 2003. They have dreamed of designing and building their own home for many years and finally decided to stop making excuses and just make it happen. In 2010, they sold their home and began their search for the right place to build. In 2012, their son, Soren, was born and is now firmly in charge of the family.

Steve Zabel

Steve Zabel is an architect at MSKTD in Indianapolis, IN, designing mostly for healthcare facilities.  He cut his teeth on residential design with Perkins VonDeylen Architects (PVA, now Blackline Studio), and spent a couple years as a 3D animator before that.  Steve is an incorrigible “I can do that too!” hands on kind of guy, which is a big part of what lead to this project.

Melissa Zabel

Melissa Zabel is manager of a user enablement team for the information systems department at ExactTarget (a salesforce.com company) in Indianapolis, IN. Aside from her love of writing technical user guides that are actually usable, Melissa spends her time hovering around Steve as he works on the house design, annoying him with questions such as “But won’t that hurt the resale?” and offering suggestions like “I know quartz is more expensive, but it’s soooo much prettier…”

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5 thoughts on “The Zabels

  1. I was cleaning out a room in my house and stumbled across some pictures from college. It became a “Whatever happened to…” kind of day. Through the miracle of Google, I stumbled across your blog here. Congratulations on your journey!

  2. Hi Steve! I feel like I’m a stalking neighbor but the email I have for you doesn’t work. : / I have a contractor looking for someone to help him design a house for a narrow, sloping site…sound familiar? Email me at if you’re interested!

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