This house was in one family for over 100 years, then it was sold and quickly sold again. I had become good friends with the new owners after I did their vacation home on Lake Blackshear, a 4,000 square foot weekend house. They came to me and said, We have just bought this house and we need you to meet the architect. You two think of everything you could ever want in a house. Think of everything that needs to be done to completely restore this house. And we did.
I guess you could say it was a designer dream. They knew that I wanted to feel comfortable in the house, and they spared no expense because they thought it was going to be the home that they lived in for the rest of their lives.
Built in 1867, the house has a mansard roof and a little bit of that French feel. I knew some vendors in New Orleans that did reproduction lighting from that era, and I wanted to make sure that we had the right lighting. So I traveled to New Orleans to pick out the light fixtures and to buy furniture at auctions.
We took up all of the heart pine plank flooring in the attic over the kitchen and made all the kitchen cabinets out of it. The kitchen has ‚his and hers islands in it. He liked to cook, and she liked to bake, so she had a baking area, he had a cooking area. Each of them also had a dishwasher and their own sink.
For the bathroom downstairs off the kitchen I found a very, very narrow tub with a sink bowl in it. I found it in an auction, and it was a French men‚ bathhouse type tub, a big, long lay-out tub, with a small sink where you could shave.
I was able to save two fireplaces with the original tiles and everything around them. The mantle pictured here is absolutely incredible.
All the woodwork in the alcove of the bay window was covered in decades of soot and grime. It took a team of six people almost seven months to refinish every bit of that wood work baseboards, floors, all that molding, and the doors. There are four different kinds of wood: heart pine floors and walnut, ash, and black walnut for the walls and ceiling. That beautiful detail had been lost under all that soot.
Where they used to dump all the coal for the house in the basement, I cleaned all that out and had his and her bathrooms down there for the pool, so you didn't have people coming in from the pool into the house. I did an outdoor kitchen. I re-did the carriage house and had a studio apartment above it.
It was a dream job. I traveled the Southeast pretty extensively finding furniture for them, and I went out to Texas to buy a custom table. It took two years to complete. This house was my first historic restoration where I really tried to find correct pieces. However, the house sold again, and the couple that own it now are younger and not wild about antiques. I had worked for them before too, and I'm helping them now to find pieces that are a little more contemporary, a little more edgy. They like the historic feel, but with more clean lines - not so 19th century, not such heavy drapes and that sort of thing.
This is their dream home. They raised their children and now they have grandchildren. It's the last home they'll build and they expect to live there for the rest of their lives. They even put an elevator in, I mean they're ready - for entertaining, for grandchildren and for retirement.
They bought this land on Lake Blackshear and had a first right of refusal on the lot next door. The plan was to buy the second lot in a few years and build a guest house on it. Well, of course, the second lot came up for sale and they had to go ahead and buy it. So, before the main house got built beyond pouring the foundation, the guest house was being built too.
Sara came to me after she had gotten the house plans and a friend had started kind of helping her. Then she realized it was going to be way too overwhelming and she needed some real help, someone who could devote time to it.
The first time I met Sara it was winter time, freezing cold, and I met her at the house. The house was actually sticked and you could see the floor plan by walking through the house. Within three minutes I knew that Sara was one that really didn't know exactly what she wanted, but she did know exactly how she wanted to live there. And all she had to do was tell me that she wanted to be comfortable for her and Dennis, but what she really wanted was for it to be comfortable for family and friends to gather and have fun with plenty of seating and a comfortable place for everybody.
It took two years to do. Sara and I worked together on everything, the stone, the color for the siding, the moldings, paint colors, draperies, upholstery, tiles, carpets, furniture and art. She met me at market in Atlanta and spent a couple of days walking through showrooms. They already had the flooring, reclaimed heart pine from an old warehouse. All the cabinetry was custom done by Mary Lefevres, Inscape Designs. The lighting is custom as well, a lot of it recessed with dimmer switches and voice command control.
The main house is three stories. On the first floor is a foyer with a central elevator and staircase then a bedroom with bath, an exercise room and a big family room with a fireplace. The second floor has the main living room and dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, huge den, two guest rooms and baths. The third floor is a complete master suite: bedroom and bath, sitting area and an office which they share.
We took the furnishings from their old home and filled the guest house except for the few pieces that went into the main house. She had already purchased a few things, and I found a few pieces for her. I found a great armoire. It's heart-pine, 1800s and actually had a date on the back of it from a black cabinet maker that was known to make cabinetry before the Civil War in Americus and Sumter County. That armoire is in the guest room with an iron bed from Old Biscayne Designs.
Probably the most fun and the most challenging thing about this project was the installation, since almost everything was going to the second floor and third floor. And most pieces were really, really massive. Some had to be craned in and the rest of it went up the back staircase.
Outside they have a large pool with a hot tub and a waterfall. Sara says Dennis‚ way to relax is to get in the pool and swim some laps. There's a picture here of Sara on the pier enjoying her views.
Dennis and Sara are in their late 50s. They have 3 sons, all grown, and several grandchildren. When their kids come to visit, the grandkids stay in the main house and their parents stay in the guest house. Although their home has been featured in Southwest Georgia Living, Sara didn't want a show house. She wanted a comfortable useable house. They want to live there the rest of their lives in a home that is welcoming for family and friends.
We shot these photos in the Fall of 2008 with only a few weeks to go before the family could move in. Construction started in the middle of May, and Katy and Chris Hagerson are looking forward to being in their new home by Christmas.
We've been married 7 years, said Katy‚ and before we got married, we redid a tiny, little house on the farm and fixed it up. I did that myself. I've always been interested in decorating, and I thought I was pretty good at it until I started using Mark. Now I don't make a decision about anything without asking. But he even helped on that little house because I needed some furniture, some prints and accessories added to my living room.
Then they decided to build the farmhouse about three years ago, but it got put on the back burner, just not sure if the timing was right. So they moved into a house in town, and we kind of perfected the farmhouse plan during that time, just to make sure it was right and to be ready, knowing that someday they were going to build.
Of the house in town Katy said, was under construction when we bought it, so I got to finish it out and make upgrades. But Mark was involved in it from sheetrock on.
She and I had picked out the fabrics, the paint colors, custom bedding, everything.
When we decided to sell it, the sign went up on Thursday and by Sunday we had an offer. It showed every day with different realtors showing it. And each one said, Your house sold because of how it was decorated, because it was decorated professionally. You know, people could visualize their things in our house.
When we were finally ready to build, we went back to the original architect but he was too busy to handle it. The second architect we used made me go ahead and pick out things like size of baseboards and molding, where I wanted wainscoting, what type of flooring. She‚ real particular about that, so that when you go get your bid, it‚ really true to what you want.
Like flooring‚ where do you want hardwood, where do you want carpet? We had to pick out crown molding, we had to go ahead and pick out doors. This was probably the most methodical house plan I ever worked on anywhere. Look on the back page of the plans and those specs are all there.
And the builder said he'd never seen anything like it. And I could have changed my mind‚ and did ‚about some of that. Because not everything, like these moldings were not in the plan. The builder called me one week and said, Have you already picked out that molding? I've got to know about your wainscoting. Well, I had taken Mark profiles of moldings and we had discussed it. You know, I've sent Mark numerous emails saying, Thank you, thank you, thank you for making me decide those things! Like the molding panels at the angle, I just didn't realize.
I was asked recently by someone who's about to take this plunge would I do it again. And I said, You're going to think I'm crazy, but I would under two circumstances: I have Tim Faircloth as a builder and Mark as a decorator. Because the decisions are so overwhelming you need that help and having someone to bounce ideas off of and guide you. Even though most of the ideas here are Mark's, he is real careful that this home will reflect me and my family and the way our family lives - lifestyle.
This project was a complete redo of a condo at the Waterview Towers Yacht Club in Destin, Florida, in what I call‚ Destin where you have the best of both worlds with the harbor view on the front side and the beach view at the back of the condominium.
My clients were a retired couple from Alabama with a large extended family and friends that they really enjoyed entertaining at the beach. They already had a 3 bedroom condo, but they needed that extra space. So when they saw the opportunity they purchased the condominium next to theirs on the penthouse floor. The problem was the neighboring condo was stuck in 1982. It had to be gutted and remodeled, and that's where I came in.
I was referred to them by a friend of mine who was a friend of theirs, and we hit it off immediately. The day I met with them I took catalogs of different things that I had envisioned for a Destin beach condo for people that like boating and fishing. They only thing that was requested was that it had to be functional and kid-friendly because they have young grandchildren.
They trusted me to do the whole condominium. I don't know an exact date, but just from looking at the external architecture and interior design, I would say these condos were built in the late 70s or early 80s. It was supposed to be a 2-bath, 3-bedroom 2,500-2,800 square foot condo, but the original owner made it into a 2-bedroom by making a large master suite with a big master bath. There was a large emerald green, cultured marble garden tub with mirrors everywhere. All the windows were completely draped and the floors were all carpeted.
The couple had previously used Ascott Construction for some other projects there in Florida. I met with them one time, and Scotty Lewis and Mike Hewitt, who spearheaded the project, drew up everything we needed. I redesigned the entire master bathroom with a walk-in shower. I left the tub and the toilet in the small bathroom, but I redesigned the shower so that you could just basically run children in, run children out. I tile-floored everything so that it was easy for beach sand and sweeping. There are scatter rugs everywhere, but everything is tile.
My biggest challenge was that I needed space for at least 8 people. I came up with children's bunk-bed nooks with the TV insets. It's a nook, a little sleep nook, with pocket doors to close it up (a pocket door is a sliding door that disappears, when fully open, into a compartment in the adjacent wall). Then there's a pull-out sofa in the larger bedroom. The kitchen was completely gutted and remodeled. It is completely functional, large enough for 3 or 4 people to be in the kitchen even though it's a small condo.
We made one change to the main condo, replacing all of the window dressing in there with the bamboo shades. They fell in love with the ones I placed in the new condo because they have the black-out lining on the back. That helps a lot with heat, because being on the 8th floor you really don't have any trees to help block the sunshine. So now they have the Skandia Melhanna bamboo blinds throughout both condos.
The project took about 8 months start to finish. I did most of it from here in Americus, communicating through emails, talking with the owners on the phone just to give updates. I went down one other time just to check on progress, and in the meantime had specked out everything for the furnishings and had all of it ready, waiting in my warehouse for the construction to be finished.
I would say the best part of this project was being able to meet this couple only once, being with them for just half a day, and knowing exacting what they wanted. And when it was installed, they were happy with the entire condo.
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