Sometimes the need for an extra bedroom is the driving force or at other times it is the desire for a larger kitchen or a more inviting outdoor space. Anne and March Seabrook’s recent home renovation was born of necessity and the inspiration to create new memories with their growing family.
When the Seabrooks found their Heathwood home in October of 2000, it was under renovation and almost perfect for the Seabrooks. Anne was able to choose paint, wallpaper, tile, and granite. The Seabrooks were also able to add a playroom just off the kitchen for their three children ranging in age from 8 to 13. “I wanted to be nearby but not in their space,” Anne says. For 20 years, the home served the Seabrooks well.
After raising their children, Anne and March welcomed two daughters-in-law and a son-in-law to their family and, in time, five grandchildren as well. To better accommodate everyone, the house needed some work. “Our appliances all needed replacing; whole rooms were unusable or awkwardly placed. It was time,” says Anne. For example, a small dining room was located to the right of the front entrance. While it had a door leading conveniently to the kitchen, the room was now too small to accommodate all the Seabrooks’ children and their spouses at once. To the left of the foyer, a long rectangular living room was rarely used.
Through the living room was a central, square hallway March used as a study, complete with fax machine, printer, computer, and other office paraphernalia. Across from his desk, a door led directly into a guest bedroom. Walking from the front door to the kitchen, a hallway blocked the view into the kitchen, eating area, and the garden beyond. On the left, a bathroom was in the center of the house, opening to the breakfast room and den. “That bathroom was one of my biggest concerns,” Anne says. “I wanted to move it away from the middle of the home.” The kitchen needed updating. The backyard needed work as well since the plants were nearing the end of their life span. In sum, an overhaul of the downstairs was in order.
Renovation is a word that can strike apprehension into the heart of the most patient person on earth. Horror stories abound of unreliable workers, jobs that go over time and over budget, substandard work, and other aggravations. Even when all goes well, a small renovation can turn bigger as the job goes on. “It’s like that book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” Anne says. “You start with one thing and another pops up, then another.” Fortunately for the Seabrooks, they already had a talented and reliable team in place from past, smaller renovations.
Pam Plowden Rawson, ASID, of Pulliam Morris Interiors, has worked with Anne for 30 years. As one might expect, Pam knows Anne pretty well. “She definitely knows what I like and what I don’t,” says Anne.
Likewise, the Seabrooks know and trust architect Tim Hance, who has done projects for them and for members of their family. Mary T. Dial, landscape architect, and Blue Moon Landscaping were also enlisted to create new life outdoors. All of these experts worked with the Seabrooks to transform their home for its next phase of life.
One question the Seabrooks had was what to do about the dining room. Should they extend the dining room wall into the kitchen so the room could accommodate a longer table? In time, it occurred to Anne that she was trying to create a room the exact same dimensions of her living room. From there the decision was easy: she flipped one room with the other. The new dining room is spacious enough to seat the Seabrooks’ growing family at the dinner table. In the new living room, the door to the kitchen was closed in to create a light and quiet space away from the noise of the kitchen and den.
March’s study was moved upstairs and the space turned into a bar area conveniently located between the dining room, den, and kitchen. Across from it, a short hallway provides a more private entrance to the downstairs guest suite. The guest bathroom received an update, converting the traditional tub and shower combination to an accessible shower. The central powder room was converted into a dish pantry to hold Anne’s favorite sets of family china. Finally, a half bath was added off the playroom.
The new living room is Anne’s favorite feature of the renovation. Done in neutral tones ranging from terracotta to muted green and blue to tan, it is a calm place for morning devotions, visits with friends, and post-work conversations with March. An Oushak rug in soft green and terracotta covers the floor, with spacious wingback chairs at each front window. Centered on the wall is a loveseat under a colorful abstract painting by local artist Mike Williams.
“Anne likes to mix traditional pieces with contemporary ones. That painting is just one example,” says Pam. “It’s a nice juxtaposition.” On the left wall is a bow-front chest topped by an arched chinoiserie mirror. To each side are two more comfortable armchairs upholstered in muted green. The room is anchored by a whimsical gold painted coffee table topped with antiqued glass.
Across the hall, the dining table now stretches the length of the room and seats 10 comfortably. Here, too, the colors are calm and relaxing, with a tan geometric rug and muted blue seat covers. A mahogany sideboard holds matching black and gold lamps and a silver tea service. On the other side of the room, a fireplace keeps diners warm. The carved mantel is topped with a landscape painting from Anne’s family.
Through the dining room, in the space that once housed March’s study, is the new bar area. It is lined with metalicized grasscloth. The bar is backed by antiqued mirrored tile. Mesh front cabinets on each side offer a peek at glassware inside. Across from the bar and down a short hallway is the new entrance to the guest bedroom. Brunschwig & Fils Bird & Thistle wallpaper in tan wraps the walls, while a cream and tan geometric carpet covers the floor.
A mahogany canopy bed invites a great night’s sleep, dressed in a cream matelassé coverlet with pale blue tufted blanket and topped with throw pillows that match the wallpaper. Above the bed hangs a painting of a Paris street scene, one of many reminders of Anne’s time spent teaching English to French students in the City of Light. The ensuite bathroom has a marble topped white vanity, brass faucet, and brass geometric mirror and sconces. A new, zero-entry shower provides easy access for any guest.
Beyond the bar area is the den. Around the focal point of another colorful Mike Williams painting, comfortable club chairs and a sofa provide the Seabrooks with a pleasant gathering space for use before and after meals. The den opens into the eating area and kitchen. With a new wood kitchen table that accommodates eight, chairs include slipcovered host and hostess chairs and black cane-wrapped guest chairs topped with fun printed cushions that echo the colors from the den.
The kitchen is tall and light, with cream painted cabinetry and brushed brass bar handle pulls. Topped by Taj Mahal quartzite, the kitchen island sports a large farm-style sink and conceals lots of storage. Opposite the sink, tall cane-wrapped stools invite friends to keep the cook company. To the right is Anne’s new dish pantry that opens with sliding barn doors that match the kitchen cabinetry. Opposite the dish pantry is the refrigerator, paneled to match the cabinets, and a double oven. Between the two is a gleaming brushed brass countertop perfect for fruit bowls and spice jars.
Just past it is a secret place: the Seabrooks’ coffee nook. Hidden from the visitor’s eye, the nook is home to the Seabrook’s coffeemaker, microwave, toaster oven, Anne’s cookbooks, and more storage. The kitchen’s stunning focal point is its back wall. Hand-painted terracotta tiles in a flower pattern cover the wall, while the cooktop range is flanked by matching brushed brass and quartzite hanging shelves.
Around the corner, just within earshot of the kitchen, is the Seabrooks’ playroom. What was their children’s place to watch movies with friends is now a room where the entire Seabrook family can gather and watch the grandchildren play. A leather club chair and a large tan sectional sofa line one long wall. The sofa curves around part of another wall, ensuring plentiful seating. Blue pillows and a blue ottoman offer a pop of color. The seating faces a television as well as plenty of floor space for toy trucks and dolls. Above the sofa hang the Seabrooks’ most personal pieces of art.
Gathered from travels around the world, they have watercolors from Greece, mixed media pieces from a mission trip to Peru, and a little painting from a trip to France, to name just a few. Another wall boasts a Page Morris painting commemorating the Seabrooks’ trip to the Kentucky Derby. This room also features the new half bath tiled in a tan geometric pattern and papered in tan and white poppies.
The final renovation project was the yard. Old plantings made way for new. Directly outside the floor-to-ceiling eating area windows, one delights in the water garden centered by a graceful, urn-bearing woman. Lush greenery surrounds her, including ferns on each side. Nearer the driveway, Anne enjoys a new, Charleston-style garden where plants previously struggled to grow. The secret to her new oasis? Artificial grass. It is a perfect, private garden where Anne enjoys feeding the birds with her grandchildren. The kids also know where other outdoor fun awaits. They grab the nearest adult hand and lead the way to the storage shed where various ride-on toys and a bouncy house are stored.
Anne and March credit Pam, Tim, and the rest of their renovation team with making their renovation a smooth process and giving their home new life. After raising their children in the home, they are happy to create new memories with their growing family in an updated, functional, and beautiful environment.