The House Down the Street

Looking a little farther than her own backyard

Robert Clark

Sara Reed knows what she wants in a house. Perhaps it is because she and Andrew, her husband, have moved five times during their nine years of marriage, or the reason may stem from her job as a professional house flipper. Since moving out of their starter home, they have flipped eight homes and renovated 13. Whatever the reason, she knows that now she is in her forever home.

Interestingly enough, Sara’s new home is very familiar to her; she lived three doors down from this house when she was growing up. She was not looking to move a fifth time in six years. In fact, she and her family lived only one street over and loved their home. But Sara enjoys perusing houses — a hazard of her job — and hence learned that this home had been on the market for a few months after having been completely gutted due to damage from the October 2015 floods.

“I have always loved this house from the outside, and when I saw they were having an open house, I could not resist. After stepping inside, it felt as though the house was built for our family. I immediately called Andrew and told him this is where we needed to be,” says Sara. She decided its size would be ideal for her large family, which includes four birth children and a foster child. Sara reached out to her real estate agent and told her if she could find a buyer for her house, they would buy this one. As luck would have it, the first family to look at her home made an offer and, ironically, the same couple who had purchased the Reed’s first flip house bought this one.

While the first floor of the home that Sara and Andrew purchased had been gutted, Sara was drawn to its great bones. “We decided to put it back together, while keeping the original character of the home,” she says. Working with a blank canvas allowed Sara to truly envision what she wanted the home to become. She had no desire to change the previous layout, but she did want to create more of a flow throughout the spaces.

When the home was built in 1970, an open floor plan was not as popular as it has become today. To that end, Sara wanted to open the kitchen to the den to allow for more movement through the two areas in which her family spends the majority of their time. The home had two powder rooms downstairs, so it was no real loss to remove one of the bathrooms, along with a wall between the two spaces.

The kitchen runs the full length of the back of the home and includes the finest of appliances, of which a La Cornue stainless steel and brass range is Sara’s favorite splurge. White cabinetry along with marble countertops and island provide a crisp, clean ambiance, while robin’s egg blue barstools and accessories offer serene pops of colors. Sara designed the functional island with legs, giving it the appearance of a large table. One side hides the microwave and warming drawer, while the other provides ample seating for the family. Sara did not think she would need a warming drawer, but now would never do without it.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” she says. “I can get dinner ready at noon, put it in the warming drawer, and it’s still warm and ready to eat at 6 p.m.”

The back entrance to the kitchen provides an understated complement of color with green and white maze-patterned wallpaper. The wallpaper adds contrast to the surrounding space. An original Lulie Wallace, a Charleston painter who has a design collaboration with Anthropologie, is showcased on the kitchen counter — a purchase by Sara’s father, Robbie Bowers, long before the artist became as well-known as she is today.

The large kitchen offers plenty of room for a breakfast table as eating together as a family is important to Sara. The round glass table is surrounded by acrylic chairs that provide a contemporary edge to the space, while an 8-foot round braided jute rug underneath the table delicately sets off the breakfast area from the remainder of the kitchen, delivering a cohesive yet separate space. Glassed upper cabinets showcase the family’s glassware, while a bar and beverage area encourages entertaining.

Along the back wall of the kitchen sits a convenient window seat, which provides a beautiful view into the family’s backyard. The large bay window enables Sara to keep an eye on her children, who range in age from 2 years to 9 years old and who spend most of their play time in the outdoors just as Sara did when she was young. “I grew up outside, spending every day on the streets of Lake Katherine,” she says. “And now my kids are doing the same. In this neighborhood, kids get to be kids. I think that is so important in a time where we are consumed with social media and screen time.”

Playtime, in fact, is integral to the Reeds’ life. And on any given day, 10 or more children can be found playing in the backyard or seated around the kitchen and den.

The flow from the kitchen and den ensures the family is together, whether in the kitchen preparing dinner or relaxing in front of the fireplace after a long day. The fireplace is more than just a lovely focal point for the Reeds. The hearth is truly center stage; it is the spot for children’s dance parties and fashion shows. Ample seating allows an audience to take in the latest talent shows. The light green walls are a calm canvas for nightly entertainment. “We have small children, so we have to have things they can sit on,” says Sara. “We attempted to create a playroom upstairs, but the children always want to be downstairs with us, so the den is where we gather.”

Rich hardwoods flow throughout the home, juxtaposed with light walls. The living room is the one exception, where chocolate brown walls provide a cozy, plush atmosphere. An opulent chandelier is the focal point of the space. “I would have a chandelier in every room if I could!” says Sara. “My favorite things are mirrors and lighting. It makes such a difference to have good lighting in the house.” The chandelier in the den adds an elegant glow to the entire space, highlighting the beautiful accessories peppered throughout the room, including family pictures and portraits that tell a story and deliver a personal touch.

Throughout the home, Sara has purposefully added a mix of the old and the new with family heirlooms interspersed with modern pieces. Portraits of her children are mixed in with antique finds. Because she wanted the home to be flooded with natural light, the couple opened walls and raised the door casings although they did not need to make structural changes. With 9-foot ceilings throughout the home, raising the doors allows more light to stream freely into rooms.

The master bedroom is a respite for Sara and Andrew. The bedroom walls are a tranquil Sherwin Williams Sea Salt color that flows into the master bathroom. His and hers closets and separate vanities make for a happy couple. Blues and greens are the featured colors. “I have blues, greens, and browns everywhere,” says Sara. “Color trends come and go, but if you include things that you really love, they never go out of style. I never tire of these colors.”

The upstairs is ideal for the large Reed family. With four bedrooms, ample space is available for children and guests. The second floor of the home was unaffected by the flood and intact when the Reeds moved in.

The beautiful spiral staircase that leads up to the second floor is original to the home as well. Sara recently wallpapered the entrance hall that surrounds the staircase, and it has become her favorite aspect of the home. The wallpaper features a scene with birds flying among trees. Sara believes focal points like the wallpaper add personality to the home. “The wallpaper was just made for this space,” she says.

Regarding Sara’s move back to the neighborhood of her childhood, she reflects, “I always wanted to be back on the water. The lot called out to Andrew, an avid outdoors man, and the house called out to me.”