Call it fate, divine intervention or just pure coincidence. Lori and Jim Kirkham were simply meant to have their sprawling home in Wales Garden. As good fortune would have it, the Kirkhams’ realtor happened to be walking through the Wales Garden neighborhood and stopped to buy lemonade from a stand on the road. He started talking with the homeowners who said they were interested in downsizing to a home in Forest Acres. Discussions began, and the two homeowners literally switched homes.
“We simply traded places,” says Lori. “It worked out beautifully.” The Kirkhams had long wanted to live in the area, but the timing was never right or the perfect home for them available … until this chance encounter.
The Kirkhams have now lived in their dream home since 2006. Showcasing more than 8,000 square feet, five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, the home is expansive. While Lori and Jim have updated most of the house, including gutting several rooms, they have taken great care not to lose the character of the 80-year-old home. “It’s a traditional home on the inside and out, and we have worked hard to keep it that way,” says Lori. “It’s an old home, and we wanted to ensure its charm remained intact.”
The traditional design of the home is apparent with the first step into the grand foyer. The majestic staircase leading to the upstairs is a gorgeous focal point. An authentic zebra rug welcomes visitors and is always a conversation starter and favorite of neighborhood trick-or-treaters.
Another eye-catching feature in the home is the baby grand piano found in the music room off of the foyer. The room was designed around the two lion heads that are bold features on the curtain rods in the room. A large tufted ottoman provides additional seating, while beautiful baubles and notable pieces line the shelves in the room. Each piece tells its own story — from memorable excursions to designer finds. The music room leads into a well-lit sunroom that holds one of the home’s unique pieces — a large scroll featuring a timeline of the Bible. The chaise lounge and sofa offer all the space one needs to relax in the warmth of the room.
The capacious formal living room off of the foyer includes a mansion-sized rug and beautiful art work, while the dining room shines underneath the glow of one of the home’s many exquisite chandeliers. The music room, sunroom, formal living room and dining room all feature large pocket doors, enabling the areas to be closed off for privacy.
Off of the formal living room is the den, where Lori spends most of her time. And interestingly, it is the smallest room in the house and the one she thought she would like the least. Jim wanted to leave the original paneling in the room. “I kicked and screamed about it,” says Lori. “But it’s the coziest room in the house. It’s just very comfortable.” The rich fabrics, deep colors and soft lighting provide a warmth that is enriched by the glow of the fireplace. It’s no wonder this is where the Kirkhams’ two dogs like to relax as well.
Not surprisingly, Lori’s favorite room sits right off of the hub of the home — the kitchen. While Lori was careful to keep the traditional character of the home, even in the kitchen, no detail was overlooked. From the stainless Viking Pro stove to the Subzero refrigerator, the home has the latest in cooking innovation. Juxtaposed with that modern edge are beautifully ornate glazed cabinets with a large cornice that evoke the period in which the home was built. The emerald pearl granite countertop is a striking element that perfectly complements the stone backsplash.
The stone floor features inset tiles under the eating area, providing an interesting rug-like appearance and properly setting apart the breakfast area from the remainder of the kitchen. Large windows in the kitchen bring in a light, fresh feel and overlook the front and side yards.
Off of the kitchen is a regal bar that includes a rich seating area with leather chairs, providing an ideal location for quiet conversation or personal introspection. The fabulous tin ceiling offers an attractive architectural element, while lending a warm tone to the space. Sliding glass doors off the bar open to the outside, allowing for enhanced entertainment opportunities and easy access to the outdoor kitchen.
As with most homes, the backdoor is where friends and family enter. So it is in the Kirkhams’ home, where backdoor guests will walk into the welcoming gathering room. “This is where we start out and where we end up,” says Lori. The game table, cushioned window seats with ample storage space and the inviting fireplace create a space where people enjoy gathering. A rolling library ladder is a focal point in the room and ensures the ceiling-high shelving is striking and functional.
With just a few steps from the gathering room, those not interested in taking the winding back staircase can jump on the elevator up to the second floor.
Upstairs, this home is idyllic for any guest. The upstairs landing includes a formal seating area under a gorgeous chandelier. Abundant seating and another bar and beverage area ensure guests have all the amenities of home; plus, having the appropriate beverages available is a must, as Jim serves as president and owner of Budweiser of Columbia. Each bedroom upstairs has its own unique en suite with gorgeous fixtures and lighting, ensuring guests have their privacy — with a touch of luxury.
Straight out of a movie scene, the wall in another bedroom covered in bookshelves has a secret door that leads to the quintessential man cave. This room, not surprisingly, is where Jim spends most of his time. With five televisions, each one larger than the next, a red leather sofa, comfortable ottoman and wood surround, it’s a wonder Lori ever sees her husband. “He loves this room so much,” she says. The upstairs office is also masculine and sleek and boasts many of the Kirkhams’ collectibles, as well as a collection of photos from Jim’s many golf outings.
The master bedroom is a retreat in and of itself. A fabulous dressing room fit for a queen sits between the bedroom and bath. The spacious area features a granite-topped dresser, sitting area, and more-than-ample closet space for shoes and clothes.
Upstairs, nestled among the bedrooms, is an unforgettable game room. A rich red pool table sits under a magnificent crystal chandelier, while an authentic jukebox is off to the side. Off of the game room is a convenient bathroom that features a large copper tub that could easily serve as a piece of art. Custom-made tile envelops the room, complementing the copper from the tub.
Throughout the home, one can find special pieces, including Lori’s mother’s curio cabinet that holds dozens of crystal figurines, as well as a number of pieces of art that tell a special story.
No detail or amenity has been overlooked by the Kirkhams. It’s the ideal home for entertaining or tucking away in a cozy room. While the home already boasts 80 years of memories, with a young grandchild and many special friends and family members, the Kirkhams have countless memories ahead — and plenty of space to house them.