Thousands of cars drive up and down Columbia’s Devine Street every day, their occupants totally unaware of the tiny gem sitting a few hundred yards off the main road. Just seven houses have the luxury of the wonderful view of Lake Idlewood, a small spring-fed lake. One of those belongs to David Tucker, who purchased the property in July 2017. By November, the house had been renovated and ready to celebrate the holidays.
David had been renting while looking for his next home purchase when his realtor, Dana Wolfe with Wolfe & Taylor, showed him the two-acre property situated on Lake Idlewilde. Dr. Frank Geiger built the house in 1954. “The house needed a ton of work,” says David. “I think it still had the original oven in the kitchen, and I really wasn’t sure if it was the right place for me.”
The first person he called to see if he should purchase the property was Ford Bailey, owner of Verve Interiors. Ford had worked with David on several previous renovation and design projects, and David placed great trust in her opinion. “I knew when I saw the house and the property that it sat on that it would be the perfect place for David, his sons, and their dogs,” says Ford.
Working with Heather Stallworth of Catalyst Architects in Lexington, the team set about the process of renovating the 3,600 square foot house. The main areas of focus included the back entrance, the kitchen, living room, dining room, and the addition of an outdoor living space, along with exterior painting and landscaping. Bedrooms and foyer received a fresh coat of paint. Craig Hensley did the remodel work, and he took it on as a challenge to remodel it in less than six months.
The back entrance to the house appears to have at one time been a garage that was later converted into a large playroom. Ford’s vision for the space transformed it not only into an inviting entryway, but also an additional guest bedroom and full bath, a large laundry room, and even a storage area.
The original kitchen was a galley style with dated stained-wood cabinetry, low ceilings, and a single window. Needless to say, it needed to be gutted entirely. David enjoys cooking, but also wanted a kitchen that would be easy to clean. To bring light into the kitchen, they removed the single window to create wall space that is large enough for a 36-inch GE Monogram refrigerator and a matching 36-inch freezer, and they placed windows on either side. The gas range includes six burners and a double oven, providing plenty of cooking space for David to prepare his wild game dishes that he enjoys so much. “I probably eat venison three or four times a week,” he says, “but dove hunting is my passion.” Another favorite tool is the pot-filler mounted behind the range. “That’s such a great thing to have in the kitchen. It really comes in handy,” David says.
The old cabinets have been replaced with flat panel cabinetry painted with Sherwin Williams’ “Elephant Gray.” The straight bar hand pulls give the kitchen a clean and linear feel. Porcelain subway tile for the backsplashes and walls covered in Sherwin Williams’ “Ivory Lace” provide a crisp, bright feel to the room. The oversized center island features an extended bar that can seat five guests comfortably on soft gray faux leather chairs. Ford chose Cambria quartz for the countertops to tie the look together, again incorporating another durable element.
In an effort to create the feeling of more space, Ford suggested raising the kitchen ceiling. “We weren’t really sure we could pull that off until we actually tore out the original ceiling,” she says. Fortunately, they were able to push the ceiling up another five feet. Dark stained rough-hewn box beams provide a unique contrast to the white vaulted ceiling.
At the opposite end of the kitchen, two armchairs covered in a natural tweed fabric are situated in front of vertically paned windows and doors, providing another comfortable area from which to view the wildlife on the lake. “Because I like to cook,” says David, “the kitchen is where I do most of my activity.”
David and his sons have large dogs that are in and out of the house, so Ford knew the floors would need to be durable as well. While they retained the original hardwood flooring in the foyer, living, and dining rooms, Ford recommended a faux slate for the floors in the back entry, kitchen, and den. “I knew hardwoods would take a beating with Labradors,” she says, “so we wanted to make sure we had something that was durable for the dogs and for entry in the back door from hunting with muddy boots.”
The den has a very masculine feel with the dark slate floors carried over from the kitchen and original paneled walls, as well as large wood planked ceiling with beams that tie in with the beams from the kitchen. “I like wood,” David says.
Part of the renovation of the den included relocating doors and removing an indoor charcoal grill. “We were able to repurpose the paneling from the renovations and fill in those spaces where we took out doors,” says Ford. Two full sofas provide more great views out to the lake as well as the large screen television mounted in the center of built-in bookcases. Leather arm chairs and tweed-covered swivel chairs offer plenty of additional seating. A seagrass rug with an oriental rug centered over the top of it gives a nice contrast to the dark floor.
To create a spacious feel and provide more flow, they opened up a wall between the den and the dining room. Like the kitchen, the dining room has a contemporary ambiance. The previous owners left a lovely wooden round dining table behind, so Ford chose a round chandelier accented with miniature lampshades as a complement. A mirror of squares helps make the room appear even larger, and a seagrass rug pulls the living room and dining room together.
One of David’s prize possessions in the dining room is a painting of his favorite dog, Mallard, a black Labrador retriever. “That dog went everywhere with me,” he says, “even to work and to see customers.”
The living room did not require much change, only a fresh coat of paint. David kept the original built-ins, fireplace, and hardwood floors, while Ford placed all new furnishings, draperies, and another seagrass rug. For the master bedroom and bath, they closed in two large glass block windows and also replaced two single windows facing the lake with a double window that allows for an enhanced lake view. A fresh coat of “Ivory Lace” paint, along with new furnishings, complete the master bedroom.
One of Ford’s goals in making sure David felt at home was to incorporate his prized duck taxidermies throughout the house. “I wanted to make it as much of a man’s place as I could,” she says.
Because David enjoys spending time outside, he wanted a comfortable outdoor living space. The renovation included adding a space large enoug h for hosting a small group of friends to larger gatherings.
Friends can enjoy a meal at the teak dining table or gather around the stone fireplace to watch football games on the large screen television mounted above. An outdoor rug adds another depth of texture over the bluestone patio floor. David chose cable deck railing in keeping with the more contemporary feel. To help provide relief from the heat of the late afternoon sun, he installed remote control shades. The vaulted ceiling features the same beams as the kitchen but uses planks as the base.
On a smaller porch accessed from the kitchen, David has two rocking chairs that date back more than 100 years. “Those chairs belonged to my great-grandparents,” he says, “and they mean a great deal to me.”
The exterior of the home needed a bit of a makeover as well. Ford and David decided a coat of paint would brighten the traditional brick house, and they transformed the appearance with Sherwin Williams’ “Shiitake.” The landscaping was another project all in itself. David worked with Charlie Humphries, owner of Garden Restoration in Columbia. The front yard required a major rework, with the installation of a brick retaining wall and steps leading from the drive up to the house that are painted to match the house. “We ended up taking out a large tree in the front, putting in all new grass and exterior lighting,” says David. A wall of large holly bushes provides a natural screen for the dogs’ outdoor kennels.
For the walking paths in the front of the house, David repurposed large concrete stones from a patio at the back of the house into stepping stones, creating a geometrically aligned walkway. He took his time before deciding how to best improve the driveway. “We really didn’t have enough of a parking area,” says David, “so after about six months I added the circular drive.”
When it comes to taking on such a project, David recommends finding a reputable architect and designer. “I knew I could leave the decisions to Heather and Ford,” he says, “and they would be the right decisions because they understood what I wanted. It’s also so much easier to go through this process when you aren’t living in the middle of the renovation. I was fortunate that I had somewhere else to live.”
What he loves most about his new house is that he does not feel like he is in the middle of the city. “I can step outside onto the porch with my coffee, read the paper, watch the news, or just enjoy the breeze, and it feels like I’m sitting in the mountains,” he says. “It truly is a hidden jewel in the city, and it suits me.”