As part of their missionary work, Linda and Glenn Welsford have spent much of their lives moving from house to house. They came to Columbia 38 years ago when Glenn, a pastor, took a position with a church in the White Oak area while Linda, well known for her skill in creating beautiful draperies and window treatments, worked to build her career as a seamstress and interior designer.
About 10 years ago, the couple purchased 48 acres in the Southeast area of Columbia, and Linda took the first steps toward the ultimate DIY project: building her dream house. She started with what she likes to call the process of “manicuring the forest.”
“The property was completely wooded,” she says. “My son bought an excavator. I professed that I would never ride that excavator, but there was no one else to clear the trees.” So she learned how to operate the controls.
It was during that time that the old Sarge Frye Field was undergoing renovations for the new University of South Carolina baseball field. Linda and Glenn, who lived near the field, asked about acquiring some of the grass. “We were fortunate to get as much sod as we wanted,” says Glenn.
After the general landscape plan was achieved, Linda focused on the home. She knew the style she wanted, so her next step was to find an architect to draw out her dream. They selected John Powell of Seed Architecture. Linda had already drawn an elementary design for John as a starting point, and her goal was to serve as the contractor for the project; she was determined, opting to oversee the entire construction of the house herself. Why would she want to take on such a daunting task?
“Over my 35 years of doing interior design work, I have fine-tuned photos to what I wanted to create,” she says. When it came time to choose the subcontractors, Linda had one criterion — high quality. The couple discovered the framer for their project after seeing him in action. “Glenn found our framer, Chuck Davis, who was working on building a new house destroyed by the floods from October 2015,” she recalls. He was an invaluable asset in helping Linda find additional subcontractors for the construction process.
Construction began in early 2017. To help save money, Linda and Glenn lived in their recreational vehicle during the build. During Thanksgiving of that year, they moved into the 3,500-square-foot colonial style house that is the perfect reflection of Linda’s dreams.
The front of the house is reminiscent of the colonial homes of yesteryear with its high pitched roof and no shrubbery, but it is constructed from long-lasting modern materials such as HardiePlank siding. Painted in the traditional colonial-era color of white, the house has little ornamentation; in fact, no shutters accompany the 50 windows, which allow in plenty of natural light.
Walking in the front door, guests immediately see one of the main focal points, the library. “A house entrance is the introduction to the personality of its owner,” says Linda, “and our architect suggested we make this space our library.” Glenn has an extensive theological book collection. With more than 2,500 books to protect, Linda had the cabinetmaker construct 15-foot-long by 9-feet-tall bookcases with glass doors that run parallel down each side of the large foyer.
On the left side of the house, a covered walkway leads from the detached garage to the side entrance under the breezeway. A small sitting area with a fireplace near the kitchen offers a cozy spot to curl up with a book from the library. The foyer floor features herringbone patterned brick pavers. The main area of the home is open and airy, free flowing from the kitchen to the dining area and then to a living area with the television tucked neatly into a freestanding antique French cabinet.
Linda’s interior design taste is greatly influenced by global designer Mariette Himes Gomez, known for her minimalist elegance. Furnishings include an array of bright and darker woods that pop against the natural white oak floor, which is consistent throughout the house. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore’s pure white ‘Chantilly Lace.’
Linda’s absolute favorite room is her grand hall. “I wanted something that reflected the grand halls of old European homes as a space for hosting family dinners,” she says. The result is a dining area that extends one half the length of the house at 32 feet by 10 feet wide. The room is large enough to hold two 8-foot-long tables with benches for seating. Windows run the length of the space, and a beautiful red settee with matching Aubusson tapestry and needlepoint pillows fills the end of the room. She also added three wrought iron lanterns from Circa Lighting.
“They did have glass panes in them,” she says, “but I removed the glass for a more original feel and to help cut down on cleaning.”
One highlight of the space is the 9-foot-long glass cupboard, which is ideal for hosting buffet dinners. Because of the open space, Linda can easily move from the dining area to the kitchen. A large window that spans the length of one kitchen wall, adorned with window boxes, adds special interest. “I actually open the windows and can water my window boxes from inside,” Linda says.
Because she knew what type of appliances she wanted, she actually purchased them five years before home construction began. “I knew I wanted a sub-zero refrigerator and a Wolf range,” she says. Other amenities include a Rohl Shaws farmhouse sink and a pot filler over the range. The white marble countertops lend a crisp feel to the room. And the pullout coffee station is tucked neatly behind cabinetry doors.
The master bedroom features a unique mix of colonial style furnishing and modern touches; for example, a four-poster bed and bureau are complemented by a sheep’s skin accent rug. The master bath has a large walk-in shower and an acrylic post vanity with a marble top. The large armoire and the white hexagonal tile floor convey the sense of a bygone era.
Linda and Glenn made sure they would always have room for guests, especially with seven grandchildren. A guest room downstairs, along with three additional bedrooms and two full baths upstairs, offer plenty of space. And if someone is looking for a quiet place to get away, a sitting area at the top of the stairs provides the perfect spot.
While many of her furnishings have been collected from area design houses, Linda has also found many treasures at local antique stores, such as several side tables that she repurposed for sitting areas as end tables and in bedrooms as nightstands. She found 8-foot-tall French doors in Charleston that she used for doors in their master suite. Plus, she discovered the fireplace mantle a few years ago at an antique store in Columbia. “I kept it in storage until we built the house,” she says.
Linda also incorporated unique works of art into the house, such as an antique French painting called a “cartoon” that would have originally been drawn for use in tapestry making.
Building the house has certainly been a labor of love for Linda. “Glenn was busy with his church, but he still put in his two cents occasionally,” Linda says. And Glenn admits that he has a great deal of pride in Linda’s accomplishment.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t see her smile about something in the house,” he says. “She’s done so much in building it from the ground up and in decorating it.”
For anyone considering tackling a home construction project, Glenn says go for it — with one caveat. “You have to have the desire and the knowledge,” he says. “We enjoyed doing it.”
Linda and Glenn credit their faith with enabling them to build their dream home, so much so that they have named their home Hesed Farm. The Hebrew word translates to “loving kindness.” “God has provided,” says Glenn, “and as Psalms 107:1 tells us, ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; his love endures forever.’”