It was a whirlwind renovation – one that began in August 2012 and was done just in the nick of time for the family gathering at Thanksgiving. For Elmira Weston, moving closer to the neighborhood where she grew up was like coming home.
Elmira and Robert, her husband, had lived on Lake Katherine for 25 years and weren’t really looking to move, she says. “We had thought about it some – the kids were grown and out of the house. It wasn’t really about downsizing, but resizing. It was a lifestyle change.”
But when Elmira first stepped into the house in the Trenholm Road neighborhood, she knew this was where she belonged. “I grew up not far from here, and it just felt right,” she recalls.
The house would need a great deal of work to fit what the Westons wanted, however. A complete overhaul of the kitchen was foremost on the list, along with renovations to the main living area and the master bath.
“The first thing I did was call Ford,” says Elmira. Ford Boyd Bailey, owner of the interior design firm Verve, was a lifelong friend. “The house was totally empty, and I thought she and I would just do a quick walk through. We ended up staying for six hours talking about what we could do with the house.”
It didn’t take long for Ford to pick up on Elmira’s vision for her dream home. On the online social media site Pinterest, Elmira had pinned images of what she liked, and Ford noted that a common thread among the images was a white background. “I didn’t even know I wanted a white house until Ford pointed it out,” Elmira laughs. To achieve that look, the entire interior of the house, from the walls to the ceilings and the trim, are painted in Pure White by Sherwin Williams. There is one exception – the powder room walls are a rich red.
Contractors Arthur Suggs and Jack Cantey of Palmetto Construction and Realty began renovations with the living room. Originally, sets of French doors with arched transom lights flanked each side of the fireplace and opened into a sunroom. “To help make the rooms seem as one, we removed the doors and transoms and squared the door openings,” Ford says. The result opened up the space significantly and gives the appearance of more height to the rooms.
Ford worked with Elmira’s existing furnishings, but for the living room, Elmira and Robert purchased a few new pieces, including two new chairs slipcovered in canvas and a pair of love seats covered in an off-white woven fabric and detailed with nail trim. They accented the love seats with poppy red pillows. A breakfront china cabinet – a cherished heirloom – lines one wall of the living room and is filled with favorite pieces that Elmira has collected over the years. The sunroom provides another retreat with a white sofa, cheery blue and white striped pillows and a pair of matching arm chairs – chairs that Ford covered for Elmira 25 years ago.
Elmira and Robert knew the kitchen would need to be gutted. “It simply wouldn’t suit our needs,” Elmira says. “We both enjoy cooking and actually spend most of our time in the kitchen.” The design they chose for their new home was reflective of the kitchen from their previous home.
The contractor ripped out the cabinetry and a silver closet, allowing for a more open space adjoining what is now a keeping or morning room. “We thought it might continue to be a breakfast room, but Robert needed a computer work station,” says Ford, “and this works perfectly as a sitting area.”
A large center island provides plenty of room for prep work and serving. “I didn’t want any appliances or utility located in the island,” says Elmira. Ford suggested flat-front cabinetry with handles to create clean lines throughout the kitchen. “That helps draw your attention to other things in the kitchen,” she says.
Ford recommended quartz countertops for the island and cabinetry. The quartz patterns they selected are more calming than most granites and wear better than marble.
Elmira made sure that Robert had his say throughout the design process. “We were pretty much in sync with what we wanted,” she says, “but there were some specific things he had to have.” Among those were a professional cooktop and range along with a refrigerator that’s all fridge, no freezer. “You’d be amazed at the amount of space you get without the freezer!” she says.
The wet bar also needed some attention. “The cabinets were fine,” says Ford, “but the glass shelves were too thin. We replaced those with thicker shelving, painted the cabinets black and topped them with Carrera marble. A mirrored backsplash and wall behind the shelves help reflect light for the bookcases on the opposite wall.”
The original hardwood floors run through most of the downstairs area of the house, including the kitchen, foyer and living room. “The floors were much lighter,” says Ford. “We had them completely refinished to a bit darker shade with a high gloss finish.”
In the master bath, Elmira and Robert initially thought they might only replace the countertops, but Ford had other ideas. “I took one look at that bathroom and knew they couldn’t wait to renovate. It was an emergency!” she laughs.
The renovations for the bath were extensive, ripping out and replacing the existing vanity and garden tub, along with completely redoing the walk-in shower. A linen closet was transformed into a seated vanity, and the solid door to the water closet was replaced with a French door with laminated glass.
Elmira’s goal was a house that was comfortable for everyone, so she chose furnishings of natural fibers throughout. White or ivory linen covers the majority of the seating, with pops of color coming from the multitude of pillows and oriental rugs placed throughout the house. In keeping with the use of natural materials, several rooms have grass rugs as a base topped with orientals. The sunroom originally had a tile floor. “It was cracked severely,” recalls Ford, “so we pulled up all the tile and replaced it with a wall-to-wall sea grass carpet.”
One additional renovation was done purely for Robert, who has an interest in photography. “We converted an attached outside utility room to a camera room for him,” says Elmira, “by simply reorienting the opening.”
Elmira says she was initially attracted to the openness of the house. “You can stand at one end of the house and see all the way to the kitchen at the opposite end,” she says. “I felt it the moment I walked through the door for the first time. It felt livable; it felt good. Now, I wouldn’t change a thing.”