In the mid-1980s, Dona and CB Smith were attending a dinner party at a friend’s gorgeous home in Columbia. It was one of those homes that instantly made an impression, so much so that Dona told the owners, Mr. and Mrs. J. Donald Dial, to please let her know if they ever decided to sell their home. Eleven years later while attending a gala, Dona was told by Mrs. Dial’s son, Robin, his mother might be interested in selling and asked if she was still interested. She answered with an emphatic “yes,” and in 1997, Dona and CB moved in to their new home — without even taking a formal tour.
One of the selling points for the Smiths was the unique layout and the strong bones of the home. The house was built in 1951 as a one-level residence and, in 1963, was taken up and turned into a two-story home, going from a ranch-style design to what it is today — a grande 7,000-square-foot showcase located on a beautiful street in the Forest Acres area.
The home makes a majestic statement from the first turn into the driveway. Towering magnolias highlight the exterior of the light stucco home, while sago palms frame the front entryway and lead to splendid double doors. Upon entering the formal foyer, the eye is instantly drawn to the exotic artwork that lines the spiral staircase. Each more captivating than the next, the artwork captures the allure of the nude human form. “I love nudes and paintings of people,” says Dona. “The human body is the most beautiful, pure thing, and I enjoy highlighting that through our artwork.”
Upon entering through the front double doors, the eye is instantly drawn to captivating artwork that lines an architecturally interesting staircase.
The expansive foyer is also filled with works of art, exquisite statues and bold, large mirrors that create a striking path to the other rooms in the home. The most-often used room is the library den, which features an original Blue Sky –– painted before he was even known as Blue Sky. The octagonal shape of the room provides an interest that is highlighted by the arches and built-in bookshelves at each turn of the room. The bold fabrics, angles and accessories convey a life well-traveled, while still providing a comfortable feel. A fully outfitted wet bar allows for convenient entertaining. The highlight of the room is also one of Dona’s treasures — the glorious trumpeter statue by Richard MacDonald, with uncanny realism and attention to detail. Dona and CB first saw the statue in Palm Springs, where Dona instantly fell in love with it. The two decided not to purchase it but kept seeing it again and again on their travels — in Aspen and then again in Soho. Following Valentine’s Day, Dona received the statue as a gift from CB.
“The first time I saw the trumpeter, I knew exactly where it would go in our home,” says Dona. And there it sits, stately and stunning in front of a window that overlooks the pool and outdoor living space.
The formal living room features a sleek grand piano, more eye-catching artwork and flows into Dona’s favorite room in the house — the dining room. Mirrors line one wall of the room from floor to ceiling, reflecting light off of the smaller mirrors on the opposite side of the room. Those reflections, when highlighted by the candles in the delicate chandelier, provide a sparkle and glow that deliver a warm, welcoming ambiance. “I love my dining room. Sometimes I will just stand here and look at the room,” says Dona. “When I first saw this room at the Dials’ party, well before we bought the home, it was sparkling and glamorous, and I have tried to keep that feel in the space.” The dining room looks out onto the patio, the pool and the lake –– a view so beautiful that Dona took off the window treatments so that she can take in the view whenever she walks through the room.
The octagonal master bedroom is decorated with muted tones providing a peaceful, calming effect.
Throughout the Smith home, they have special collections, including crystal animals, angels and fairies, and her mother’s tea cup collection, in addition to original art and grand mirrors. “I prefer decorating my own home, designing it the way I want,” says Dona. “If I find something I like, I include it.”
The Smiths gutted the kitchen, turning it into a well-appointed space that is a culinary dream. The utilitarian, yet still gorgeous, butcher-block island is handmade and an oft-used piece, while the tile backsplash and arch over the cooktop are creative focal points. The kitchen features stainless steel appliances, including a Sub-Zero® refrigerator and Thermador® stove. The space is replete with storage — like much of the rest of the home — and also includes a butler’s pantry for additional storage and preparation space. Dona spends a lot of time in the kitchen and wanted a comfortable yet stylish design. The eat-in kitchen provides a beautiful view of the backyard and conveniently steps onto the side porch.
The children’s living room provides yet another comfortable area. The space is casual enough for the grandchildren but still beautifully decorated and ideal for enjoying a cup of tea with friends or cozying up with a book.
The two guest bedrooms downstairs are welcoming yet private, enabling guests to escape for some quiet time. Each guest bathroom is unique in design, with nooks and turns that call out the creativity in design and architecture of the home and again echo the reason the Smiths loved the house at first sight.
For parties that flow to the back deck and pool, guests can relax in the pool house highlighted by comfortable furniture and a wonderful mural wall.
Upstairs, the landing features an office space that is highlighted by more original art and an elegant nude bust. The office leads to Dona’s personal retreat — the master bedroom. “I tend to spend a great deal of time in here,” she says. “There is just a real tranquility. The light from outside reflects on the ceiling, providing a peaceful, calming effect.” The muted tones carry through to the spa-like master bathroom, which is again highlighted by the twinkling lights of the multiple chandeliers reflecting off of the mirrors. The space also features two massive walk-in closets. Right down the hall, CB has his own bathroom and beautifully masculine closet. More storage space ensures there is no clutter in the home.
The upstairs also includes a comfortable den that serves as a media room and includes ample seating. The room is bedecked with family photos, highlighting what makes the Smiths happiest.
For the Smiths, this house is perfect for inviting in both family and friends. “The thing I love about this home is that it is such a great house for entertaining,” says Dona. “We have an oyster stew and champagne party every Christmas Eve and have no problem having 150 or more people in the house. Because of the flow, you never feel congested or crowded. We have a large family, and the holidays are my favorite time of the year. I just love to entertain.”
More than that, Dona wants her house to be lived-in, to be enjoyed. “I have 11 grandchildren, and when they are here, I want them to enjoy every single speck of the home. I have found out through the death of family and friends that things that don’t get used, get sold. And I have found out through a robbery, that things can go away too easily. So we use every piece of furniture in this home. This is a special house, and I love to open it to family and friends.”
Dona’s spa-like master bathroom is highlighted by twinkling lights of the multiple chandeliers reflecting from the mirrors.
This home is indeed ideal for entertaining — for young and old alike. For those parties that flow to the back deck and pool, guests can relax in the pool house, take a dip in the pool or venture into the lake.
Hidden in the back of the house is a large wine cellar and walk-in humidor that previously served as a bomb shelter, as the home was built during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The room keeps their wine collection at the perfect temperature and is just a step away from the entertaining areas of the home.
The seemingly endless rooms in the Smiths’ home and the unique style are what drew them to call this house a home. “It doesn’t fit the architectural standard one might expect, where everything lines up. Those are the things I like about it. I walk down the stairs, and I love it still,” Dona says. One look at this home, and one would ask, what’s not to love?