East Park Project
My husband found our next project a few minutes up the road, a 100 yr old house in the East Park historic neighborhood. Designed by renowned architect, Willie Ward, it was filled with beautiful detailing and stunning 6 foot windows. In foreclosure and empty for two years, this house desperately needed some vision and love!! The former owner had hoped to use the home for a bed and breakfast (which explained the 7 bathrooms!) but ran into financial trouble. We bought the house for a great price and got to work!
My friend Meghan Sowinski (she has since moved and taken her amazing taste to France!) helped me initially with what I call phase one: kitchen plan, paint colors, furniture flow and fabric choices. The home itself was grand and a bit formal. In efforts to counteract that feeling (there's nothing formal about life with 5 young children!) I wanted my decorating choices to be welcoming and fun. I chose bungalow beige for the majority of the interior walls & trim, deciding to leave some the windows and doors stained. This created a layered, warm updated look. I love how paint can make such a huge difference! Bamboo shades were added throughout the house to bring texture and warmth to each room. Refinishing the hardwoods further highlighted the original beauty of the home.
Outside the white trim was peeling and was also very stark (in my opinion) against the brick. We decided to soften this look by repainting the exterior trim a cool tavern taupe. This color worked so nicely with the brick and highlighted the architecture and gorgeous windows. The windows are original and needed much repair. The painters were at our house for over two months; scraping, glazing and priming to carefully restore the windows to their original beauty (or as close as we could get!). Speaking of exterior, the yard (or what was left of it) was such an eye sore and screamed chaos!! We desperately needed a clearly defined space. Black steel decorative fencing was installed in both the front and back yard to improve the curb appeal and keep the children contained!! The yard got a makeover including sod, plants, bushes and an irrigation system... things were starting to come around.
Back inside, we needed more storage space (old houses are infamous for a lack of storage!) so the main level full bathroom with shower stall became a powder room and large linen closet. In addition, custom shaker style doors were added to built-ins in the sitting room to provide more(hidden) options for space to contain the growing amount of toys in our household!! In the kitchen we added custom cabinetry as well as a built in fridge with wine & cookbook storage above. I gave our cabinet guy an inspiration picture from Old House magazine and he delivered! All cabinetry was painted dovetail gray and a white tile "brick pattern" backsplash completed the look. This tile is classic (yet inexpensive- woohoo!) and I used it all over my house. The granite we chose is really unique with lots of movement. A mix of gray, white, black and brown; it pulls from the colors of the cabinets, walls, backsplash and hardwoods without being too "matchy-matchy." There wasn't room for an island so we improvised and put 5 bar stools at the counter to make a breakfast bar instead. I found a floor model 48 inch range for a great price and ordered a hood to match.
Bamboo shades were added throughout the house to bring texture and warmth to each room. Refinishing the hardwoods further highlighted the original beauty of the home.
Over the course of the next six years (phase two) we updated and restored the entire home. Ashley Leinster (who is an interior design consultant and friend with amazing personal style) was my go-to resource for brainstorming on ways to keep the charm; while adding modern style & conveniences without breaking the bank. I'm sure I drove her a little crazy with my constant texts with pictures/asking her opinion... but she was always so kind and gracious. I moved from room to room planning and implementing changes until the house felt like a home.
So my couches are kid-proof and comfy but not very pretty. My solution? Add custom pillows and a couple of upholstered club chairs to the room to make it feel more "adult" and pulled together. Something you should know about me- I'm slightly obsessed with chairs and pillows. I began finding deals on old chairs; mainly through fickle (Greenville girls you know the site!) and local consignment stores like Southern Housepitality and Feather Your Nest. Then I would go fabric hunting (often with Ashley's guidance) to Tony's, West End Fabrics or my personal favorite- Mansure!! I have an amazing seamstress who I've used for all of my houses. She is my go-to person for pillows, window treatments and anything fabric! She is reasonably priced and very talented.
I shopped all over town for finishing touches and decorative accents. Rowan, 4Rooms, Home Goods, World Market, Pottery Barn & Restoration Hardware outlets... I like variety! I also bought some indoor plants (different kinds of ferns and of course, orchids!) to bring life into the rooms. I tried my best to keep them alive!? I typically go to Roots or Urban Digs when I'm looking for a new flower arrangement or a succulent garden for my kitchen table. I began to hang art from local artists like Leanne White and Jean Wilson Freeman who brought uniqueness and color to the decor. Jean made me a sign with our street number for the front that was perfect! I also purchased several pieces from talented artists with the the Boco Art show that happens twice a year in town. On visits to the the downtown Saturday Market and the Indie Craft Parade, I found some items with personality and local flair to bring to our historic Greenville home.
The third floor of the home evolved from a playroom to a game room to an upstairs den. Our oldest daughter also has her room up there (we call it her apartment)- with the best views of downtown from her window!!
The final house project involved converting the outside porch into a mudroom. Outside we added cedar shake shingles to this section which gave nod to the cedar shingles under the second floor bathroom window. Once these weather (to match the original ones) it will appear that the room has always been there and wasn't an overly obvious "addition." This mudroom is highly functional and provided room for book bags, sports gear, coats (changed my world- literally!). It also opened up the area by our back door; making the entire kitchen feel more spacious. Now this home was complete and perfect for our family of seven! The only thing lacking was a big yard...
In March of 2016 TOWN magazine featured our house in their issue. Our neighbor, Rebecca Lehde, took the pictures (she's so talented!) You can see the article here
We loved our home, but sadly its "postage stamp" yard was starting to feel cramped with our growing family. We decided to look for another project with a bigger yard. We didn't want to leave downtown, but at the time that was our only option. A foreclosure home was for sale in the E Parkins Mill area on a street with great neighbors. We bought the house in July 2015, fully expecting our E Park home to sell quickly. By fall we had accepted an offer and were set to close before Christmas 2016. Well, looking back all I can say is that God had other plans. The buyers backed out a couple of weeks before closing (yes, you heard that right-after I had packed up 3/4 of the house!!). Following that experience, I was emotionally drained (especially after unpacking all those boxes!) and decided that we needed a break from real estate. We took the house off the market and decided to stay put. One question remained- what were we going to do about the Parkins Mill house??