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Cousin’s Club

Posted January 07, 2015 in Community Featured, Clive

Gary Brown likes to buy the ugliest house on the street and turn into the nicest.  But his wife Rhonda wasn’t up for another renovation when the couple bought their Clive home in 2003.  She firmly requested a move-in-ready property.

“I only wanted to do minor repairs, like paint,” Rhonda explains. “We painted every inch. I told Gary that he could go into landscaping and remodel the outside. And, he did.”

Gary and Rhonda Brown with their eight grandchildren — the “Cousins Club.” Photos by Courtney Keiser.

Gary and Rhonda Brown with their eight grandchildren — the “Cousins Club.”
Photos by Courtney Keiser.

The outdoors quickly became Gary’s favorite space. The Browns’ backyard, once an unusable hill, now boasts a stairway that leads to a large shed, a brick patio, bushes, flowers and cucumber and tomato plants.

The couple has eight grandchildren, all living in the area.

“We’ve had many birthday and graduation parties on the patio and our grandkids love the playhouse, sandbox and swing set,” Rhonda says. 

Rhonda fondly recalls the updates they made to the front porch—paint and replacing the large columns with small square ones. Today it’s her favorite resting spot.  She reads, does puzzles and chats with neighbors as they walk by.

One day, Rhonda realized she couldn’t see the street from her rocker.  She tried her own hand at landscaping and began to trim the bushes. 

She was in over her head.

“The poor shrubs had been butchered,” she laughs. “I called my three sons and said please help—I have to make these look better before your dad gets home.”Browns and Grandchildren

The boys came over and cut all the shrubs, but left one, just so their dad could admire their mom’s handy work.

“Needless to say, we planted new shrubs in front—smaller, prettier shrubs,” Rhonda says.

Inside, the Browns have updated the kitchen with new cabinets and a counter bar and installed a new front door. Their sons have helped lay new wood flooring and tiles on the first floor. 

Over time they transitioned the family room into a large dining room.  Rhonda says it’s now called the “Cousins Club.”

“Once a month the grandchildren visit the ‘Cousins Club’ for a few hours and we have total chaos while they eat dinner, make a craft and move to the living room for popcorn and a movie,” she explains.  “To our granddaughters the dining room is very grand.  We pull out the tea set, light candles and dress in fancy hats and beads while we pour juice from a tea pot.”

Would you like your home featured in this column in an upcoming issue of Clive Living? If so, email Darren Tromblay at

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