The House on the Hill

Don and I are constantly asked why we are selling our home. Today is a prime example of one of the many reasons. He is busy mowing and scraping the road while I am busy mowing and spreading mulch. Both of us would rather be in our studio creating art but even without the amount of rain that we have had lately, our remaining 8-1/2 acres is a full-time job this time of year. Our property would be perfect for a horse person as we have ample space to cross pasture without overgrazing. The knoll where the tobacco barn used to sit would make a beautiful spot for a stable.  A gentleman farmer would enjoy having orchards and maybe a cow or two. Don and I faced the hard truth several years ago, we are not farmers. We are artists and what we want out of life is not what we wanted when we purchased this property 18 years ago. Our needs have changed.

Like any home seller, putting our home on the market is not an easy step. We can’t just say “ok, do it now.”  There is a lot of prep work involved.  The basement needs more insulation installed in the ceiling. I had started drylocking the dogs grooming room, mostly to brighten it up but the job is only half done. The basement itself is a mess. My training area is in order but we tend to pile stuff wherever we drop it. On the first floor the fireplace is still lacking a cherry surround and mantel. My closet was finally finished with shelves installed after 13 years of living out of milk crates. Many rooms are missing trim in areas. The kitchen needs some additional cabinetry and most buyers are going to expect quartz or granite countertops and not the Formica that we have been perfectly happy with. The second floor has rooms that need painting and more trim installed. The outside has all kinds of little maintenance projects.  Could I put the house on the market without doing these many items? Sure, but I wouldn’t get top dollar for my home. In fact, even if your house doesn’t need a lot of maintenance (or in our case finishing) a good power washing and scrubbing down will make your home show better. The better it shows, the faster you will get an offer and the stronger that offer will be. Don’t skimp on the spit shining.

Curb appeal is important which is why we are keeping up with the mowing and the gardens. We want everything to look its best when the property goes on the market.  Even when designing our home, curb appeal was at the top of our minds. When planning a driveway and the approach to a house, too many people get from point A to point B with very little thought and an opportunity is lost for some wonderful curb appeal. What Don envisioned that October day in 1999 as we sat on the hill was a driveway that snaked into the property. As you come in from the road, there are woods on one side that hide the home from view. You start to come around a curve and you catch a peak of the home but then your view is hidden once again by the rolling fields. As you round another curve, there it is in full view; our imagination comes to life. The fruit of our designing efforts to combine a southern plantation home with stylish arts and crafts. This home has curb appeal and plenty of it.

Growing up, Don’s family spent a lot of time in Louisiana and he fell in love with the look of the plantation homes with steep roofs and covered porches. I prefer the arts and crafts movement with pillars and gables. After owning our property for more than two years, we were still debating the design of our new home.  It was a constant topic for discussion. One day I was standing in line at the grocery store and was thumbing through a Southern Living Magazine when I came across the centerfold photo of a Long Island Sound beach house. It had a 12/12 pitch roof, gables, steep dormers and a circular covered porch for dining. This was the BACK of that house, but even so, I was smitten. I bought the magazine and rushed home to show Don. He smiled and said, “yes, that’s it!” We didn’t use that design exactly, but we did use that photograph as the launching point for our imagination as we drew the plans for the home that we eventually built.  Now as we drive home after a night in Asheville, we often remark that our home is just as we imagined it that day as we sat in the pasture.  Its nestled back on the furthest knoll, overlooking the pasture yet surrounded by the 100-acre woods, with the driveway adding to the curb appeal instead of detracting from it. Every ounce of our property was designed as an artistic landscape.  The vision isn’t fully complete but we feel it’s time for the next person to put their impression on this property.

One last note on that Southern Living Magazine photo that our house is based on; to make it perfect, I printed out scaled photos of our two golden retrievers and placed them in the grass in front of the porch. I must have gotten the scale correct as friends joked that we picked that house because it had dogs in the photo.  All of our dogs have enjoyed that porch, watching the sunset and hoping for a deer or fox to bark at. This home was lovingly designed for all of us. The design process is a story for another time.

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