Full House


_ebv8883When Stacy and Jamey Taylor decided to build a house, making room for her mom and dad just made it more fun.      

Written by Jane Reynolds  Photography by Edward Badham

Like a lot of couples, Jamey and Stacy Taylor initially found the site of their future dream home on the Internet. Unlike most couples, they did not find it by combing through real-estate sites but on the popular geobrowser Google Earth. “I opened Google Earth and expanded it a little bit, and saw Moon Glow Lake”—not far from where they lived in Inverness—“and I pointed to it and said, ‘Somebody owns all this land over here,’” Jamey remembers. “‘I’m going to figure out who it is and go see if I can buy a piece of it.”

Stacy was skeptical, but Jamey was undeterred. He started making phone calls and found out the property had been owned by O’Neal Steel and the O’Neal family, who used it as a fishing camp. The company had recently traded it for a larger fishing camp further south. The scenic property around Moon Glow Lake was now planned for new homes—and the Taylors had an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

_ebv8804A large section had already been purchased for development by Signature Homes, but the new owner had reserved a few estate lots he planned mostly to reserve for friends. He agreed to sell one to the Taylors, however, and suddenly they found themselves the proud owners of scenic lakeside property they loved at first site. “We came out and walked around—it was all woods; none of the houses had been started—and said, ‘Yes, this is us. This is where we want to live,’” Jamey remembers.

And then something else unexpected happened. “We were really excited about it, and the next time Stacy’s parents came to visit, we wanted to show them the lot that we just bought. They said, ‘Our house is too big for us, and we would love to live close to you guys…’” So Stacy’s parents, Don and Carolyn Griner, decided to sell their home in Athens, Ala. and buy a new house of their own in the same development, named Kirkman Preserve after O’Neal Steal founder Kirkman O’Neal. After much consideration, though, the Griners had an even better idea—as long as Stacy and Jamey were building from scratch, why not pitch in for the addition of a small wing of their own in the same house rather than buy an entirely separate home?

The key to this plan, of course, is that the Stacy, Jamey and their daughters, ages six and 10, get along well with Stacy’s parents—and they do, remarkably so, in a house designed to integrate all of them seamlessly, like an extended family getaway.

“We knew we didn’t want an in-law apartment,” Stacy says. “but all the home plans we were seeing had an in-law space with an extra kitchen and all that. We wanted to share all the common spaces and intermingle more.”

_ebv8980Frusterio Design, a firm specializing in custom-home and renovation designs, helped them create a plan that is truly built for their family—including two master bedrooms, rooms for the girls as well as a playroom, a guest room (almost always in use, between friends of Stacy’s parents coming to visit and Jamey’s brother, who lives in Huntsville but works out of Birmingham), and an open living plan downstairs with a gourmet kitchen and great room.

The living space extends outside onto a sizable, two-story screened porch overlooking the lake below. “Making the porch two stories was Frusterio’s idea,” Stacy notes. “I wouldn’t have thought of it, but I love it.” A fireplace in the middle creates almost two distinct spaces on either side, with one side perfect for intimate conversation, morning coffee or an evening glass of wine, while the other side could accommodate a small, sit-down dinner party. The porch overlooks the lake, adding to the view and tranquility.

Inside, the kitchen is a major focal point. Knowing this was the space that would be most frequently used by the entire family, they wanted to make sure everyone’s needs were met and there was plenty of space to maneuver. “We all like to cook,” Stacy explains. “Even my daughter likes to cook. So Jamey made the rule that it had to be a ‘two-butt’ kitchen in all directions—you can open the kitchen or the oven, and someone can still get by behind you.” Meanwhile, to address Jamey’s concerns about clutter on the countertop, the cabinet maker added custom touches such as a built-in space just for the mixer—which can be pulled out, used and put away again without ever taking up counter space. They also made room for two dishwashers to accommodate the large family.

_ebv9003Overall, the house is a blend of practical and exquisite touches that blend together seamlessly. The countertops look like marble but are really quartz, a more resilient choice for heavy use. “We cook with wine, fruit, vinegars…all the stuff that can destroy a countertop, and it just wipes off,” Carolyn says. But also in the kitchen, against the wall, is a more delicate and sentimental touch: a stained-glass door from Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman that happened to have been salvaged from the former Veranda restaurant on Southside, where Stacy and Jamey had their rehearsal dinner. (Stacy’s father turned it into a sliding door for the pantry, and “Veranda” is still etched on the bottom.)

The family moved in a year ago, but it already feels like they’ve been here forever. And so far, multi-generational living has worked out beautifully.

“We say, ‘If you want to live with your parents, try building a house with them,’” Stacy laughs. “If you’re all still getting along at the end, you’re going to be just fine living together.”

Behind the Scenes

Home Designer: Frusterio Design

Countertops: Maranatha Granite, Marble and Floors

Cabinetry: Deep Fried Southern Cabinetry

Tile: Issis and Sons

Stonework: Acme Brick, Tile and Stone

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