It is not every day that Mandy Summers has a chance to work with a builder to design a home “from the blueprint up.” Three years ago she had just that opportunity when she was approached by Randy Humphries. He desired to build his home in Blythewood’s Cobblestone Park but wanted help to carry out the design details.
Randy and Deborah, his then fiancée, met with Mandy for general direction. “We had all this furniture in storage that we wanted to use in this new house, and we wanted much of the house designed in a way so that the furniture fit in certain areas and rooms,” says Deborah, who married Randy this past March. “We didn’t want to work with an interior designer who wanted us to buy all new things. Mandy isn’t like that; she thinks outside of the box, and she was fine to go to our storage unit and figure out what we had and adapt our building plan to make what we had work.”
The 3,000-square-foot eclectically-styled house is painstakingly designed around existing antiques and furnishings, as well as collectibles from Randy’s past in New Orleans and Deborah’s past in Germany. “They had great ideas and allowed me to add some of my own,” says Mandy. “Together we created a beautiful combined vision.” Mandy, a certified interior decorator since 2006 and owner of M. Gallery Interiors, studied for a year in Europe and fell in love with European styles. Randy is drawn to French Country, consequently, his home melds their different styles, incorporating a myriad of colors, finishes, textures, materials, angles and shapes into their home.
Mandy immediately crafted a design to combine all of the elements to present a beautiful ambience and flow. The key was to carefully consider each detail and determine how it will meld with the overall plan.
The distinctiveness begins at the entryway. A gray mortar hue was chosen to bring contrast to the light-colored North Carolina-made tumbled bricks. The mortar is not smoothed to the brick, giving a weathered, aged look to the exterior. The walnut and glass entryway door, eight feet in height and 42 inches in width, is the focal point. Randy, a custom home builder and owner of Circle H Builders, says that homeowners should spend at least one percent of the cost of their home on their entryway door. His door features a heavy forged iron handle and hand-forged nails as decorative elements.
Inside are high ceilings, arched doorways, pocket doors, various nooks and niches, extra wide molding and baseboards, exposed rough-hewn beams and a variety of window shapes with deep window sills. The home office has French doors leading to the front porch; there is also a coffered ceiling and a taller wainscoting effect that has wider-than-usual molding to distinguish the lines. Another notable element in the room is a narrow eight-foot wide pocket door.
The bathrooms are loaded with accents as well, such as colored glass tile in the powder room and a chandelier in the master bathroom. The kitchen and keeping room are favorite areas for the Humphries because they both enjoy cooking and entertaining. During a recent party, 60 guests comfortably congregated in the open area that flows into the spacious living room and onto the screened-in porch.
Highlights of the keeping room are the textured fireplace with gas starter, a brick paver focal-point wall, exposed ceiling beams and almost floor-to-ceiling windows. The room is decorated in a marriage of styles: a leather sofa, a Queen Anne chair, a burlap stool, a cowhide rug and a breakfast table with upholstered chairs. A non-traditional glass and iron light fixture hangs from the high ceiling, while there are seeded glass and iron pendant lights over the split bar with wine-barrel bar stools that separate the keeping room from the kitchen.
Granite covers the bar and countertop surfaces, including a wine bar. An antique butcher’s block and red painted metal stool contrast with the granite; in the niche display area over the built-in refrigerator space is a large metal, colorful rooster — a proud find by Deborah. The cabinets, finished in a chocolate glaze and with recessed panels instead of raised panels, are intended to resemble furnishings, not typical kitchen cabinetry.
Upstairs has been set aside for guests, with two guest bedrooms and a true “Jack and Jill” bathroom in between. This type of bathroom includes two sinks and two toilets accessible from each guest bedroom; with a bathtub and shower in between. Each part of the bathroom areas can be sectioned off with pocket doors. For instance, a guest can privately use a sink and toilet area or privately use the shower area. Also in between the guest rooms is an open space with a built-in bookshelf, desk, Wi-Fi connection, small refrigerator and coffee station.
“We stock the refrigerator with whatever the guests would like — wine, champagne,” says Deborah. The guest bedrooms are also filled with eclectic decorating details. One, for example, blends toile, rattan, fur and animal prints.
“This is not a predictable house,” adds Deborah. “It’s definitely full of surprises.”
Deborah admits that she was struggling when it came to choosing the right colors. Mandy says that color can make all the difference in a home. “You want color to seamlessly transition from one room to the next.”
The wall color is most interesting because it is applied throughout the home on walls that have been sprayed with sheet rock. The result is a textured look throughout. “It’s not as popular in this area,” says Randy, “but it is something I really wanted.”
Throughout the house, light floods the rooms due to the large windows. Thus, says Mandy, the dining room could afford a deep dark color. A Sherwin Williams color called “French Roast” was chosen for the dining room to contrast with the “Whole Wheat” walls throughout the living room and entryway. In the same warm color family is a “Caribbean Coral” for the home office, while a fun “Calico” blue covers the laundry room walls. An inviting “Golden Fleece” is in the kitchen and keeping room. Any darker colors on walls, or darker finished furnishings, also contrast with the white oak floors.
It was important to even get the gutter colors right. “You want the gutters to disappear into the house, not stand out,” says Mandy. Other coordinating, yet noticeable, factors on the exterior are hand-made cedar shutters painted avocado green, rough-hewn ceiling beams and columns, steep pitched roofs, a unique window box and a brick “eyebrow” feature over the arched, large dining room window. The eight-foot tall expansive garage door has eight windows. Finally, even the chimneys are capped with a design element called a shroud.
Randy says that the house is definitely a reflection of his tastes and those of Deborah’s. Ideas he has gleaned from building other homes for the past 25 years are evident, as are the elements that bring to mind his New Orleans’s heritage; there are fleur-de-lis motifs subtly evident in almost every room, for example. Deborah’s past in Germany is reflected in the exterior window box on the garage as well as in a few accessories, such as decorative beer steins.
Because he is so pleased with the results of his teamwork with Mandy, Randy will often show clients his own home so they can view what is achievable. “Our home is proof that you don’t have to have a large home to have a comfortable and luxurious home,” he says. “And, you can work within a budget and still have a home that is beautiful. It’s a design where all the space is used, where details matter, and where we can live comfortably.”
He points out that after looking at the bedroom furnishings, Mandy determined that windows in a particular room would need to be spaced out to allow for a headboard. The goal through the process was to pull all of it together into a warm, inviting, blended package.
“Along with Mandy, we designed the house around what we have, and we love it!” says Deborah. “I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I don’t think to myself, ‘I love this house!’”