There wasn’t a second to lose. Laura and Benjie Ingram bought their Forest Acres home on January 3, and with three young kids and another one on the way, they needed to get unpacked and settled quickly.
The Ingrams purchased their home from Betty and Cameron Todd, who bought the house in the early 60s and raised their four children there. “I remember how pleased they were that we were going to raise our four children here as well,” recalls Laura. “It really meant so much to them and to us that another family would be part of this house.”
Cameron well remembers buying the house and making it fit the needs of their large family. “The first thing we had to do was add a fourth bedroom,” he says. “Then later, we added the patio, the garden house, and in the 70s, we added the pool.” They also cleared a large stand of pines that soon became a well-used football field. These efforts were all for making family memories and having a place where the Todds’ children and friends congregated.
“Our backyard was the neighborhood playground,” Cameron says. “A real magnet. You can imagine how pleased Betty and I were, upon our move to Still Hopes, to be able sell our home, where we lived for 45 years, to another family with four children so the tradition can continue.”
Other potential buyers had shown interest, but they wanted to tear the house down and start over. The Ingrams loved it from the start. “We just knew this was the house for us,” Laura says.
Besides installing a new geothermal heating and air system and new ductwork, the Ingrams only wanted to make a few cosmetic changes to the home. Walls, ceilings and trim received a fresh coat of paint, and the beautiful hardwood floors throughout the house were refinished.
Laura had one hurdle to overcome, however, when it came to the interior design. “I knew I wanted a certain look, but I didn’t know how to pull it together,” she laughs. The solution to her problem was easy to find. Cami Hutchinson, her sister, just happens to be an interior designer and owns In Home Design along with Nan Sammataro.
“Laura had done a huge favor for me. She kept my son when I took a trip to Greece, so I saw this as an opportunity to return the favor,” says Cami. “It was really more like an HGTV-style takeover. She directed the loading of the moving truck from the old house, and I directed the unloading and placement in the new house. She really didn’t know what it was going to look like until the day she moved in.”
Cami’s vision for the house was just what Laura wanted in maximizing the space by keeping the décor simple. “We’re so different from each other,” says Laura, “but I can trust her choices because she knows what I like.”
While there were some design treatments that Cami would have loved to include, one thing held her back. “Laura has vertigo and has problems with dizziness,” says Cami. “I knew some of the patterns that I would have normally used would have been difficult for Laura. That was my biggest challenge.”
Laura chose Rose Talbert’s Intercoastal Gray as the single paint color throughout the main living areas of the house. “In our previous house, I had a different color in about every room,” she says. “Because we wanted to reuse most of our furnishings in this house, I decided to go with a more neutral color, knowing we could change it up later with pillows and window treatments.”
In fact, Cami used some of the window treatments that the Todds left behind and gave them new life. “We reused the fabulous hand-painted Italian Fortuny drapes that were left in the dining and living rooms as slipcovers for the dining room chairs,” she beams.
The dining room also features some of Laura’s most prized possessions – her grandmother’s dining room table and a painting by Cami. “Cami is also an artist,” says Laura. “She had done a painting that I loved, entitled, The Joy of a Sister. Our mom bought it from the studio where it was hanging without telling Cami and gave it to me as a Christmas present.”
The living room is what Laura likes to call a “kid-free” room. It’s a great space for entertaining, and its focal point is the desk that belonged to Laura and Cami’s father, Barry Hughes Burton. Large and spacious, two sofas in cream textured fabric flank each side of the fireplace. Another of Cami’s paintings hangs above.
The Ingrams’ oldest son, Hughes, is an avid Gamecock fan, so Cami chose appropriate wall colors for his room adorned with murals of football and baseball players. She also used an oversized mirror with a black frame to help add depth.
The two younger children, Evelyn and Joshua, share their room for now and each helped decorate their side of the room by choosing their paint colors, Blue Frost for Joshua and Pink Shadow for Evelyn.
Benjie, in addition to owning his own optometry practice, is also a woodworking hobbyist, so he was able to reuse some of the pieces from the renovations. “Benjie took a pediment in the shape of a fan from the master bedroom and created a headboard for Evelyn’s bed that is painted in alternating colors of pink and white,” says Cami.
Benjie’s hobby proved to be quite useful in other parts of the house as well. “He built the mantle for the fireplace in the breakfast sitting area,” says Laura, “and he built the wall cabinetry for the family room.” Beams were removed and replaced with sheetrock to create a smooth ceiling.
The kitchen appliances were relatively new, so Cami focused on brightening the cabinetry with a fresh coat of paint and adding moulding for contrast. Laura had only one requirement for the breakfast table. “It needed to seat six comfortably,” she says, so Cami went auction shopping and found a table with curved edges, a safety must for the kids, painted the top and surrounded it with an eclectic mix of chairs.
While they were removing old brick and paneling from one wall, the Ingrams discovered hidden space that Cami turned into a computer nook.
The Todds’ house had plenty of closet space lining the hallways, something unusual for an older home, but Cami quickly realized the challenge in adding interest to the space. “We decided to paint a repetitive pattern in alternating colors on the closet doors,” she says. “That pattern turned out to look like an ‘I’ for Ingram.”
The master bedroom was where Laura splurged. “Our kids have always loved to come and pile in the bed with us,” she smiles, “but that was hard before because we didn’t have room for a large bed.” That’s no longer a problem with the king size bed they now have. Cami used sheer draperies to frame the headboard, adding a soft touch to the room.
Just as the house was the gathering place for the neighborhood kids when the Todds lived there, Laura and Benjie hope their kids can have that same experience.
“Laura is a very nurturing person,” says Cami of her sister. “I’m so glad that I could give Benjie and her this gift of a comfortable home where they can raise their family.”
George Cameron Todd
January 8, 1926 – April 14, 2013
Beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and extraordinary community leader.
We received this news as the May issue went to press.