My New Old Home

When Anita and Ralph Turnage settled into their Hampton Hills home in January 1994, they knew that they eventually wanted to renovate the 3,600- square-foot, two-story ranch-style home, originally built in 1959.

Robert Clark

When Anita and Ralph Turnage settled into their Hampton Hills home in January 1994, they knew that they eventually wanted to renovate the 3,600- square-foot, two-story ranch-style home, originally built in 1959. However, careers and raising a family limited them initially to minor renovations, like painting and upfitting the kitchen.

Over the next 16 years, the Turnages put a great deal of effort into renovating the exterior of the home with landscaping, brick pavers and a driveway. “We knew we wanted to do more with the interior but just hadn’t decided on when,” Anita says.

Anita had been doing her homework along the way, researching looks, finishes and paint colors that she liked. And while touring the 2010 Columbia Metropolitan Dream Home, she fell in love with a rug that was in one of the rooms. Anita made a quick phone call to Steven Ford, who owns Steven Ford Interiors and designed the room.  “I told him that the rug in the dining room of that house was exactly what I was looking for,” she says, and a friendship was formed. That rug now lies in her dining room; in fact, because the rug is no longer in production, Anita has located another to put into storage for future use.

The first interior renovation was their formal living room. “She wanted a room that was elegant enough for entertaining,” says Steven, “but that was also comfortable enough for watching television.” Because the room was rather long, Steven recommended keeping the original wood and marble hearth of the fireplace but added built-in cabinetry to help with the expanse of the room while also serving as display space for Anita’s glass art collection, along with storage for the grandchildren’s toys. “Their toys are in the cabinets with Legos® on the floor…and that’s the way we like it,” she says with a smile.

One challenge for Steven was to give the house an appearance of taller ceilings. “These ceilings are just 8 feet, 3 inches, and we needed an illusion of height,” Anita says. “Steven was able to incorporate the appearance of height through the built-ins.”

Most walls through the house are painted shades of “Litchfield Gray” by Benjamin Moore. “Anita had this cool gray color before gray was a cool color,” says Steven. Keeping with that color, Steven pulled together a warm setting in grays, yellows and creams. Striped armchairs flank a large sofa with a secretary and pine hutch that Anita already had worked into the room. “Anita already had some great pieces, and I think it’s important to try to use as much of your existing pieces, especially those for which you have a great fondness,” says Steven.

Ralph enjoys watching television as one way to relax in his downtime, and he was determined that he wanted to do so in a recliner since he had never had one. Steven took his marching orders to find a recliner that would fit in the room without looking like a recliner.

Then the conversations began about next steps. Anita was working to bring Ralph around to doing a major interior renovation, and finally in 2012, she had him convinced. “He said, ‘I’m ready,’” Anita recalls. So Anita began the task of more research to remodel the remainder of the downstairs portion of the house, including the kitchen, laundry, dining room and master suite.

In 2014 she reached back out to Steven. “We initially focused on the kitchen. We tweaked and tweaked again and redrew,” says Anita, “then we asked ourselves questions like, ‘Why does the dining room need to be where it is?’” They were finally ready to begin the remodel in December 2015.

The remodel of the original dining room into a new kitchen was extremely important. “We’re all foodies and love to cook including Ralph,” she says, “And we knew we wanted a large space because we tend to gravitate toward the kitchen whenever we have family here or are entertaining.”

While they knew they wouldn’t be moving any exterior walls, their plans would require moving some interior walls, including support walls, so Anita sought out an architect, Derrick Peake of Peake Associates, to provide the expertise they would need. She then decided on Dwight Williams of Williams Construction to help make the plans come to life. “They were just marvelous to work with,” she says.

The kitchen is bright with a crisp feel accentuated by the “SW Modern Gray” colored custom cabinetry, lit cabinets, quartzite countertops and porcelain floors. The island features a full sink, a prep sink and plenty of room for bar seating. The stainless hood over the professional gas range was custom made, and the refrigerator is hidden behind matching cabinet doors. Anita was concerned at first when the glass cupboard that was to be incorporated under the staircase wasn’t going to work due to a heating element uncovered when the wall was torn out. Steven resolved that by moving it out from the main wall. 

“It took a bit more space than we planned, but that’s one of the great things I love about working with Steven,” she says. “He can find a solution for anything that happens to come up.”

Added benefits for Anita include a pantry and a vastly improved laundry room hidden away behind a pocket door. The space that originally housed the washer and dryer has been converted to what looks more like a butler’s pantry and is what Anita refers to as Ralph’s “grill prep area” where he keeps all of his grilling tools. What was the breakfast nook now has a comfortable window seating area for gazing out into the garden or for friends gathering in the kitchen. 

The original den was a long room that allowed them to create more usable space for other purposes. The den turned into not only the new dining room, but also a portion of the new master suite. The den had a fireplace that Steven shortened and covered with a limestone mantle and hearth. Steven again incorporated pieces Anita and Ralph already had into the room, including a corner hutch. “Our goal is to use existing pieces in a way that gives them an updated look,” says Steven. And he used the same gray glass tile on the wall behind the bar that was used behind the range in the kitchen but in differing patterns.

The master suite gave Anita something she desperately longed for –– a true walk-in closet. The ensuite features a large glassed walk-in shower along with a deep soaking tub and a his-and-her vanity. And the heated ceramic tile floor that assumes the look of plank flooring assures no one will have cold feet on chilly mornings. 

A new hallway with built-ins for storage and displaying more of Anita’s pottery leads to the master bedroom. The room has ample space for the king bed, but Anita and Steve had to find a unique resolution for the bed to fit between the windows on the back wall. “There wasn’t enough space for a traditional size headboard,” Anita points out, “so Steven came up with the idea of creating a custom headboard that rises in the center.” 

The walls of the suite are painted a soft shade of sea foam green, “Windowpane” by Sherwin Williams at 50 percent. “We must have repainted this room at least five times before we found the perfect shade,” Anita says with a laugh. The master bedroom also features one of Anita and Ralph’s most beloved possessions, a portrait of their faithful dog Izzie. 

Art is an important part of the décor in their home. Many of the art pieces Anita found on trips and adventures. “Anita has a wonderful eye for art,” says Steven, “and we were able to give many of the pieces a fresh new look simply by reframing them.” 

While it was a long process through which Anita endured a couple of back surgeries and then delays from the floods of October 2015, there isn’t much she would change. In fact, she believes the extra time allowed her the benefit of better planning. “We thought of several significant changes and additions during that time,” she says.

Anita does have advice to share for anyone who is considering taking on such a major project. First, she says, it’s important to do as much research as possible. “Allow yourself time to research and shop for appliances, countertops, tiles, plumbing, electrical and lighting,” she says. “And educate yourself about the process. There is so much to know about each phase.”

She also says that the team assembled to complete a renovation is just as important. “You need a talented team that works well together, is patient and flexible,” she adds. “You need to be on site as much as possible as there are always lots of questions to be answered and decisions to be made each day.” While Anita and Ralph did have to move out of their home for about six months during the renovation, she made herself available as much as possible.

Anita gives much credit to Steven in helping make a wonderful new home for them and making the renovations seem seamless. “I have friends who saw the house when we redid the living rooms, and when they’ve come back to see the rest of the renovations, they can’t believe it wasn’t all done at the same time,” she says. 

While Anita says Ralph got a bit impatient at times, she enjoyed being involved in creating something new for her family. And they’re not finished yet. Next up on the renovation list –– upgrading the outdoor kitchen and patio area along with the garage. She has no plans to go anywhere. “This is our retirement home,” says Anita, “our forever home.”