The Moore family loved their Columbia home.
They had lived in the house on Devereaux Road for eight years when, in the course of just a few moments, everything suddenly changed. On Sept. 25, 2011, a severe thunderstorm blew through the Midlands with wind gusts reported by the National Weather Service as high as 55 miles per hour. One of those storms produced a microburst, a sudden downdraft of heavy winds in a thunderstorm, that sent the beautiful trees surrounding the Moore’s home crashing through, rendering their home unlivable.
“It makes you humble,” says Amy, recalling that day. “You think everything is going great, and you are quickly humbled. It’s one of those things you don’t forget. Luckily we weren’t home when it happened, but I remember walking in and realizing just how devastating it was to see our house destroyed.”
Amy and Henry, along with their three young children, spent the next year living in a nearby rental home. “I can now truly understand why they say building a house or going through a renovation is one of the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but I’m proud to say that I still like my architect and builder, and I’m still married!” she says with a laugh.
In November 2013, the family returned to their newly renovated home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving. “It was absolutely surreal to be back in our house,” she remembers.
Amy, who has her own interior design firm, AFM Design, fortunately had a plan in mind even before the storm. She had always had an idea of what her ideal home would look like and had been collecting pictures for years. “I have books and books of photographs,” she says.
The house was previously more of a Frank Lloyd Wright style home. However, from spending summers in Northern Michigan, Amy wanted the look of that type of cottage. The exterior of their new house now features cedar shake shingles.
“We loved the layout of the house before, so we took the house down to the studs and kept most of the rooms similar to what they were before,” she says.
Because the kitchen is where they spend so much of their time, one of the major alterations converted the original galley style kitchen and screened porch into one large kitchen spacious enough to include the family dining table and a comfortable sitting area with windows spanning the exterior walls.
The vaulted ceiling created with horizontal wood panels and exposed beams is inspiring, but Amy was unsure at first about having such height in the room. “I was worried about the ceiling,” she recalls, “because I thought it would be too open.”
Amy chose concrete for her countertops and, in keeping with the natural theme, installed lighting over the kitchen island made from wicker baskets that hang from the ceiling using heavy rope. “They are unique, and the wiring is cleverly hidden by running it up through the rope,” she says.
The kitchen also features stainless steel appliances including a Thermador professional cooktop and range, as Amy and Henry both love to cook. Amy also wanted to increase the amount of natural light coming into the house. “Our previous home was rather dark,” she recalls, “and I wanted to have lots of natural light.”
Amy had Tim Hance, their architect, design windows that allowed a view from nearly every angle of the kitchen and sitting area. French doors lead into the outdoor living area with large columns and a slate tile floor in place of the original deck. Karen Menge of Pulliam Morris Interiors and Jason Winegard, their contractor, were also instrumental in helping the Moores.
“Our lot is very private,” says Amy. “That’s one of the things that we love about it.” Because of the storm, the Moores took out many of the trees that were close to the house, but the trees on the perimeter of the property provide a natural fence. “The kids have plenty of space to play in the yard and the pool, and we can have our quiet time outside.”
Amy’s personal preferences for design incorporate natural fibers and fabrics. “I do like a lot of different elements,” she notes. “I don’t like for things to all be matchy-matchy.”
Most of the interior walls of the home now have horizontal wide wood panels. “I had seen these panels in my sister’s home, although her walls run vertically,” Amy says. “It adds so much character to the house.” They were able to keep most of the original hardwood floors and added heart pine flooring to other areas. Amy also used natural woven rugs in neutral tones throughout the house. “I love these rugs because you can layer on top of them.”
With a husband, a young son, twin girls and two dogs, simplicity and organization are extremely important to Amy. “I find that if they’re organized and I’m organized, life is so much easier,” she says. For that reason, they also added a new entryway from the garage that includes a cubby for everyone’s belongings when they come home from a busy day. “Everyone knows where their stuff belongs, and it just simplifies our lives.”
While the walls are new, Amy kept the original mantel for the living room fireplace. “It’s just beautiful heart pine wood,” she says. “We absolutely had to make sure it stayed a part of the house.”
The dining room is much the same as it was previously, with a couple of exceptions. They raised the door height to give it a more open feeling and converted a walkthrough into a closet.
The kids’ rooms replicate a fun environment. Amy chose a forest-like theme for her son’s room, including a couple of Henry’s duck-hunting trophies. The girls’ room is cozy with a touch of whimsy with padded headboards and floral duvets and they share a “Jack & Jill” bathroom.
While they had the opportunity, Amy and Henry decided to add a new master bedroom and bath. “Our house is full of chaos with having kids and dogs, so I tried to keep the master bedroom a place to sleep,” Amy says. The master bath features a large walk-in shower along with an antique-style tub accented by a pedestal base.
Amy’s choice of furnishings follows neutral warm tones through the use of natural fibers and fabrics, wicker and wood throughout the house. “Most people don’t realize that there are more shades of white than any other color out there,” Amy says. “You can do so much with so many neutral tones and add splashes of color to complement the pieces. It’s a very calming feeling for me after seeing the damage done by the storm.”
Much of the color in the décor comes from the wide range of artwork on the walls, some of which includes her husband’s artwork. “Henry is an artist, and I have artist friends,” she notes, “so art is very important to us.”
Amy not only uses art to bring pops of color into the room décor but also because they speak to her. For her, art has to have a meaning. “I don’t choose pieces because they match. I like to be eclectic. Things aren’t perfect in this world, and I like to think that the things we have are perfectly imperfect,” she says.
Amy feels much the same about all of the accessories that she chooses for her home and for her clients, noting that everything in a room should have a purpose and meaning, otherwise it’s just taking up space and not adding to the function of the room.
One of Amy’s favorite rooms in the house is actually a long hallway filled with family photos. “This is something that has a lot of meaning to everyone,” she says. “They go back as far as my great grandparents. I think it’s fun and interesting to see where we came from and to look back at the different chapters in the lives of the people who were very formative to us.”
While the memories of the storm that destroyed their original home are still extremely vivid to her, Amy says her girls help her keep things in perspective. “They remember how much I cried. I had collected a lot of things, and while it’s hard to lose those things that have so much meaning, I also had to realize that it’s just ‘stuff.’ Once you realize that everyone is safe, then you can begin the task of rebuilding.”
Amy knows what it means to be thankful for what they have. “We had our minister bless all the rooms in the house. When you have a ‘glitch’ in life, whatever it might be, you have to build back stronger than you were before.”