Dream Home: Where the Light Comes In


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Written by Madoline Markham
Photography by Heather Durham

Britt and Amanda Thames weren’t looking to move, but when they found out the new construction they had seen going up nearby was a spec house that boasted custom details, they started thinking differently.

The Thames were immediately drawn to the home’s open floor plan, with the kitchen opening up to the family room, and the playroom upstairs that would allow their boys (and their toys) their own space. Despite its new age, the farmhouse-style structure had a prominent front porch—a feature that had been a primary selling point on their previous home, age 100, in Edgewood seven years ago. Add to that a fifth bedroom at the back of the upstairs that they could make a home office since they both work at home, and they were sold.

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Britt, who works for a building products manufacturer, noticed other details Twin Construction had designed: high quality duct windows, energy efficient materials in the attic, and a damp-proofed crawl space. Wiring for speakers throughout the houses and porches was also already in place. “(Even) on the details you can’t see, they took the time to do, right,” he says.

Because it was a spec house from start to finish, Twin Interior Designer Laurie Fulkerson had the freedom to try different ideas and carry out her vision instead of a client’s. “It allowed me to be more creative and think more out of the box,” Fulkerson says. She didn’t want it to be too contemporary, but not too traditional either. Mostly, she says, she made a lot of decisions she wouldn’t have thought of at 28, but that seem common sense now with three teenagers at home.

And the Thames, who have two young children, couldn’t be happier to buy a home with all the decisions not only made but made so well. “It’s better than anything I would have picked out,” is Amanda’s refrain as she points out the features in the house.

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Knowing how much food teenagers eat, Fulkerson selected a separate full-sized freezer and refrigerator in the “showstopper” kitchen, a concept that has since become popular with her clients. She put in not one but two laundry rooms, not one but two trash cans in the kitchen, and not one but two closets in the playroom. A side door on the front of the house opens to a mud room Fulkerson designed to be a “dump zone” instead of the more formal front rooms. Next to it is a large walk-in pantry—also with built-in wooden shelves.

There’s storage everywhere with every square inch of the house serving a purpose. The upstairs laundry room is filled with storage bins where the ceiling slants downward, and a sitting nook was added in the guest room where the ceiling also slants.

Stylish details complement the practicality of the house, too. In the powder room, Fulkerson used steel-colored Kyoto ceramic tile from Artistic Tile to add drama to the main floor (see page 16). The dining room boasts a coffered ceiling, and a custom iron railing accents the stairway railing. The hardwood floors are a mix of 4- and 6-inch white and red oak, and the interior doors are solid core Masonite.

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Light comes in everywhere in the house, even on a rainy day. Its front facade has no windows but rather two sets of French doors that open from the front porch to the dining room and a small sitting room with its own fireplace. Still, you can’t see into the primary living space from the front of the house. From the kitchen and family room, a wall of sliding glass doors opens to the backyard, allowing Britt and Amanda to stay inside while they watch boys play outside. As an added bonus, their backyard is right behind Homewood’s community garden, and an old garage now serves as a shed for Britt’s projects.

In the house’s centerpiece, the kitchen, the island was designed around a 104-by-64-inch slab of dark ocean black granite, which is like soap stone but more durable—fitting since it’s the room’s hardest working space. Around the perimeter counters, Fulkerson used a white Carrara marble. You also see dark-light contrast with Confederate grey lower cabinets and tall 48-inch white cabinets on top and white cabinets at the base of the island—all designed with Crystal Tucker of Twin Interiors. The distressed brass hardware also changes in shape from bottom to top cabinets. Because of the kitchen’s large size, Fulkerson thought it could hold dark colors without them seeming too dominant.

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There’s tons of counter space and two ovens, one large and one small—any cook’s dream. Instead of a backsplash, non-combustible pine shiplap lines the wall behind the gas range, complete with a pot filler for added convenience.

Behind a sliding barn door on one side of the kitchen is a homework nook and family office with a bulletin board for posting invitations. If the Thames have people over, any “stuff” sitting out can easily hide behind the door as well.

The first floor’s 10-foot ceilings continue into the master bedroom and bathroom. Planks in natural grain color line the vanity wall of the bathroom, adding a crisp rustic flare. The main laundry room is upstairs, but there’s also one off the master bath between the his and hers closets. A recirculating pump provides instant hot water in the morning—again a detail the Thames wouldn’t have thought to add but sure do enjoy.

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Upstairs, the Jack n’ Jill bathrooms have separate vanity areas with a hearty snow white quartz countertop—another thing Fulkerson had learned was important from her own kids.

After moving in this spring, the Thames added a swing and rocking chairs (including a mini one for their kids) to the wrap-around porch. “We want to spend a lot of time there,” Amanda says.  “When you sit on the porch, you meet neighbors.” Plus, their neighbors from their previous Edgewood house are still their neighbors, and they can still walk their boys to school at Edgewood Elementary and Trinity United Methodist, and to the park and shops in Edgewood.

“This is definitely our forever home,” Amanda says.

Behind the Scenes

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