Making the Move

Nora and Taylor banks turned a newly remodeled Bluff Park Home into their personal haven.

Written by Rosalind Fournier. Photography by Edward Badham

Nora and Taylor Banks loved their old home in Bluff Park, which they describe as a close-knit, family friendly neighborhood, perfect for raising their small children, Morris and Lucy. Then they got an offer they couldn’t refuse.

“A friend wanted to buy a house in Bluff Park, and the real estate was so hot that he asked to come look at our house,” Nora says. “We let him come look and had a contract on it the next day.”

The Taylors still wanted to stay in Bluff Park, and now they had only 45 days to find a new house. “Every listing we saw would be gone the day it was put up,” says Nora. “We were getting down to the wire.” Her mother joined in the hunt and noticed construction workers outside a four bedroom/two bath on a great street. When she stopped to ask, it turned out the house had been purchased by a professional home “flipper,” Bruce Glenn of Innovative Renovations, who was remodeling it for resale. For the Banks, it was a perfect fit. “It was ours two days later,” Nora says. “It never even went on the market.”

One of the biggest changes Glenn and his team had made was to open up the living area in a way that the new space is no longer recognizable from the old pictures. “When you walked in, it was three very separate, choppy rooms—the living room, dining room and kitchen—and they took down those walls so it’s one big, flowing space now.” Nora loves to cook, she adds, and enjoys being able to watch the kids playing in the living area or sitting at the table while she’s in the kitchen. A generously sized, light colored area rug helps define the cozy living room, while other, subtle markers—such as a half wall between the front entryway and the kitchen—help frame the rooms without closing them off. And with all that open space, Nora notes, they’re able to fully appreciate the wealth of natural light the house enjoys from having plenty of big windows.

The Banks were happy with everything Glenn and his team had done, work that also included finishing out the basement to make a playroom perfect for movie nights, and fully remodeling the bathrooms. In effect, Nora says, it was like getting all the benefits of new construction. “With this house, we actually ended up downsizing,” she says, “but the fact that we got brand-new construction top to bottom was so worth it for us.”

But while they credit Glenn for doing the heavy lifting on the remodel, when it came time to make decisions for the interior, the home fully reflects the Banks’ personal style. The walls are mostly painted in neutrals, yet the house is awash in bright colors and patterns in the throw pillows and other accessories. Most of the color, though, comes through the art, which is everywhere—a clear reflection of a love for whimsical, modern folk art that Nora inherited from her mother, interior designer Patsy Baird.

“My mom is one of my best friends,” Nora says, “and I’ve adopted her love for art and going to art shows with her. So when we bought the house, a lot of the pieces I had are ones she has given me as gifts, but we also went to a local art show and were able to specifically choose pieces for the new house. She had a major part in the decorating, and I am blessed that I have her to do that.”

Nora describes the art, which has a significant presence in every room, as a way to lend the house a sense of narrative. “I don’t think there’s any of my artwork that doesn’t have a story behind it or sentimental meaning,” she says. “And against a simple color palette, I like to use the pops of art as the color as well as conversation pieces. The color makes me happy.” Other touches they love in the home include two doors the remodeler found that were original to the house and repurposed—one as a sliding barn door leading to the master bath, and another as a small, half door leading to a storage cubby down in the playroom.

The children’s bedrooms, meanwhile, positively scream personality. Nora says that was very intentional, in part because in a move that transpired so quickly, the kids were leaving behind the only home they’d ever known. “So we put a lot of heart and soul into their rooms to make sure it felt like it was their space,” she says. “Lucy loves flamingos, so you see them everywhere. Her bed was my mom’s bed when she was a little girl, and I spray painted it to where it didn’t look too cutesy, but it’s pink and happy. And my favorite part of Morris’s room is that my mom and I went and took pictures of Morris Avenue and Morris Boulevard and incorporated those into some fun, handmade artwork.”

But as happy as the family is with the results, it’s still the neighborhood of Bluff Park that makes this house feel like home, just as it did for their old house nearby—only better, because they now live on a block filled with kids, and they’re within walking distance of Bluff Park Elementary School where Morris is going into third grade and Lucy will start kindergarten next year. “We love our street and neighbors,” Nora says. “The fact that we can walk up to a friend’s house and just play with water balloons or hang out anytime, or the fact that we can walk the kids to school…not every family can say they’re able to do that.”

Though the Banks might eventually add on to the home, Nora doesn’t expect they’ll make another unexpected move like the last one now that they’ve had a year to settle in and get things just as they like them. “We don’t plan on going anywhere for a while,” she says.  •




One Response to “Making the Move”

  1. Carol Cauthen says:

    Nora is very stylist in her home and her dress. Always, expresses herself in both areas so well.

    She, her siblings, and mom have a flair for decorating and entertaining.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful home.

    Carol Cauthen

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