Calhoun McMeekin grew up in Lake Katherine on Portobello Road in a home that triggers many happy memories. He has always had an interest in family, relationships, and a sense of place. He connects people to places and has a “story” to share about most any subject. His parents, Francis and Cal, along with cousins, Meekin and Jimmy Herlong, also live on Portobello. Wanting to live where his children could have a similar experience, he and Melinda decided to settle in the same neighborhood so they also bought a home on Portobello Road. Calhoun remembers playing as a child in what is now his home and has many recollections of how Lake Katherine has grown and changed throughout the years.
Liz and Jack Cantey, friends of the McMeekins, built the custom home in 1977 and later sold it to Jack’s cousin, Jimmy Cantey and Lucille, his wife. Melinda and Calhoun purchased it in 2000 and are the third owners of the Colonial Williamsburg style house. The house has quite a history with Melinda and Calhoun as it has suffered both a fire and the historic flood of 2015. It was this recent flood that gave them the opportunity to give the house their own stamp of personal taste and style of living.
As a realtor, Calhoun spends most of his time previewing and showing beautiful properties. He appreciates a well-designed home, loves beautiful things, and has a passion for architecture and detail. After research, Calhoun contacted Celtic Works to do the remodeling, and under the direction of David Barry and Chris Steyne, the post flood renovation began.
“They were so good at bringing my vision for the house alive,” Calhoun remembers. “They took my idea of an 8-foot high, barrel vault door opening with wainscoting for the entrance hall and built it to perfection. The millwork they added throughout the house was exceptional. Celtic Works aren’t builders, but craftsmen.”
Melinda and Calhoun wanted their new floor plan to reflect the way they lived with a central area for the family to gather, including the kitchen and den. This made the pecky cypress paneled great room an area for extra family activities. The room was designed by Calhoun as a “nod” to his parents’ home up the street that also had a room paneled in cypress. The family enjoys a fire in the large stately fireplace every night in the winter. Calhoun is thoughtful in his designs and incorporated many ideas that he says “acknowlege those who influenced me in my life and created good memories.” They moved walls and rearranged the living spaces for better functionality. The formal spaces remained for entertaining, but the spaces they “live in” became the focus.
With the assistance of Verve Interiors, the decor became a mix of existing antiques, new upholstery, and personal treasures. Ford Boyd Bailey, owner of Verve and a good friend of the McMeekins, as well as Stephanie Abernethy, a designer at Verve, worked closely with Melinda and Calhoun.
The home is now full of open, bright, expansive spaces — both cozy and ready for a party. Paramount to Melinda was the need for natural light everywhere, and since she does not like drapery, she convinced Calhoun to remove the existing shutters from the windows in the kitchen/den area. The light christened this room with inviting warmth, which allows Melinda to have great outside views.
The kitchen is Melinda’s haven and Calhoun’s masterpiece. They tore down the wall between the old dining room and the kitchen, allowing for a more open concept and great flow between this new living space and the kitchen. The den and the kitchen have become the gathering space where Melinda can cook while enjoying the company of family and friends.
“Calhoun wanted marble countertops and drove to three places to find the marble he wanted,” Melinda says with a laugh. “I told him that if he used Calcutta Gold, then I got to paint every room Benjamin Moore Antique Lace. So, I did.” Melinda is glad they made the compromise, as the kitchen is her favorite place to be. The marble speaks for itself as it goes all the way up behind the countertops, serving as an elegant, artistic backsplash. The expansive white counter makes all of its surroundings feel light and open.
Calhoun loves the new pantry off the kitchen. This is a room of its own and has space for food storage, entertaining pieces, and every appliance that normally sits on a kitchen counter. This keeps the kitchen tidy as a central living space. “The kitchen and the den are where I spend most of my time,” says Melinda. “It’s my own little cocoon. It’s so full of life and light.”
Melinda and Calhoun altered the home’s floor plan by moving the dining room for better flow and space for entertaining. The dining room was originally located in the middle of the house, but was repositioned to the edge of the home where a wood-paneled den previously stood. They refitted the existing bar in the dining room, and Calhoun loves the way it looks now and functions in the room. He found the 100-plus-year-old heart pine floors that had been reclaimed from a wharf in Wilmington, North Carolina, and now run throughout the downstairs. The room is complemented by a focal-point rug and a lovely antique sideboard, which belonged to Melinda’s grandmother, Betty Marsh. The sideboard with French-style antique mirror fits perfectly next to the fireplace in an inset in the wall.
With the redesign, the living room now features new upholstered furniture, unique lamps, stunning artwork, and an exceptional oushak rug, one of Calhoun’s additions. The glow of lamplight delivers a comfortable, relaxing ambiance to the space. “After the flood, every piece of upholstered furniture was ruined,” says Melinda. “We had to order several sofas and chairs, but the great thing about having Stephanie help me was that she put things where I would not have thought to.”
Three charming porcelain “Flower Ladies” by artist Lee Ann from Alabama were purchased from non(e)such and grace the round tabletop by the windows. They are special to Melinda as they were given to her by Calhoun for anniversaries and birthdays. Unfortunately, all were tragically broken in the flood, and Melinda spent hours painstakingly gluing the pieces back together. No two ladies are alike — they add a whimsical touch, reflecting Melinda’s personality and artistic nature.
Throughout the home, magnificent artwork dresses the walls. “We love white walls,” says Stephanie. “We like for clients to collect interesting artwork, and white walls allow the art to be the focal point. We also believe it’s only necessary to have a few beautiful accents throughout the home, but to have the finest of those things. Melinda and Calhoun’s home is a testament to that.”
Two of Melinda’s favorite artists, Laurie Meyer and Sara Cameli, bring the color palette of yellow and turquoise accents to the walls, which are now the main bursts of color throughout the home.
Calhoun enjoys going to estate sales to find special pieces to put in the home, and a stunning mirror in the living room was one such find. It fills almost one entire wall and reflects the glorious light of the room. Stephanie adds, “The combination of their family heirlooms and special finds fit so nicely in the new floor plan. The way they designed it really showcases the pieces and highlights their importance.”
The McMeekins enjoy their home, and it shows their mix of dynamic personalities. Melinda is creative and thoughtful, full of warmth and laughter, and her focus on family is evident with the photos of their children and family heirlooms throughout the space. Calhoun, an eager and ardent lover of the creation of a house, is enthusiastic to share his experiences about the renovation and how each decision was impacted by other people. Their life is about friends and family, and the home will continue to be a place where memories are made.