How Does Your Garden Grow…

Local architect Brian Barrett and his family tend to home as well as a community garden
in Avondale.

Written by Mary Ellen Stancill, Photography  by  Beau Gustafson

With their first baby on the way, Brian and Krys Barrett needed more space than their previous house had to offer. At first they considered remodeling. Brian, an architect with Barrett Architecture Studio, even drew and revised plans. But eventually the pair decided that a move made more sense. “We realized we were looking for a house like this, a genuine old beauty,” Krys says of their current South Avondale home.

Previous owner Luther “Luke” Boothe had redone the house, originally built around 1906, after purchasing it from the Lesley family, who lived in the home for more than 60 years. Luke restored original details, stripping layers of wallpaper, ripping out dropped ceilings to expose 11-foot ceilings and refinishing hardwood floors. As a locomotive engineer himself, he felt a connection to Mr. Lesley, who worked for the railroad for many years. But Luke did not let nostalgia stop him from updating the home, installing a new kitchen, updating the bathrooms and painting walls to show off the architectural details of the historic home.

The Barretts moved into the home and changed very little inside, making a few tweaks so the home would function for a growing family and adding their collection of family furniture, local art and vintage pieces, such as the Saarinen chairs purchased at a recent church garage sale for just $10 each. Brian didn’t even mind missing out on the redo. He admired the restoration of the original craftsmanship and had his creative fun adding a modern carport and driveway. “The house is a machine,” he says. “It functions like it’s supposed to.”

“We really redid the garden and the yard,” Krys explains. “That was our part to redo.” Not long after moving into the home, the Barretts learned of plans for the empty lot next door to have a metal storage building placed on it, so they quickly bought the property to help preserve the residential feel of the neighborhood. At first, they let their dogs run on the added space and did a small amount of gardening. But the lot was so large they knew they could share the space with friends and neighbors looking to try their hands at urban gardening.

Brian and Krys took a six-month course on community gardening at Jones Valley Urban Farm and this year started the South Avondale Community Garden. Now there are eight raised beds and plenty of room for more. “We probably have about 16 people gardening regularly and a few more that helped us get started or come to work on the common garden. Most of our gardeners are beginner gardeners,” explains Krys. Gardeners come and go on their own schedules, and the Barrett children—four-year-old Mimi and Jack who turns two next month—love watching the activity. “Mimi will look out the window and see someone and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a gardener!’” Brian says.

Businesses in the neighborhood have been supportive as well. Naked Art Gallery held a benefit during their May “Third Friday” event. Weeds are kept at bay thanks to fabric samples donated by DSR Inc. that now line the garden beds. Zoe consignment boutique donated a well-dressed scarecrow named Ophelia. Plant Odyssey provided fruit bushes. Barrett Architecture Studio and Standard Creative architects donated lumber for some of the raised beds. William & Carrigan Stone Masons contributed bricks and stone leftover from jobs. Avondale Brewery donates spent hops for compost. And when Parkside Home and Garden closed, they gave garden ornaments.

“I can’t say enough about how there wouldn’t be a community garden without community,” Krys says. “A lot of people contributed time and energy to make this happen. We moved here because we loved this house, but we’ve grown to love the community as well.” •

Find out more information about the South Avondale Community Garden on Facebook or e-mail:


Kitchen design and

interior/exterior paint

colors: Tim Burt

Concrete kitchen

counters: Eric Tasker

Tile: Kevin Talley


Tom Bobo

2 Responses to “How Does Your Garden Grow…”

  1. Patsy Baird says:

    Eric Tasker has done work for me and I can’t find his number anywhere. I have seen the article and would like to recommend him for a client of mine if you could please have him contact me. Or perhaps the homeowners would be so kind to send me his number.

    My cell is 223-2906.

    Thank you.

    Patsy Baird

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