The kitchen, added in the 1940s, once served as an outdoor hitching station. Jamie updated the room with whitewashed cabinetry, marble countertops, and a generous island.
Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Anne Turner Carroll
Even though Jamie and Tra made every attempt to respect their home’s past, the 1940s kitchen addition proved to be the trickiest and most demanding part of their restoration efforts. “A place as old as Vinewood would not have contained an indoor cooking space; it would have been in a separate dependency. Still, we chose to keep the addition and renovate it to reflect the style of the rest of the house,” states Jamie. They also worked in as many modern amenities as possible, including a stainless steel range, particularly since Tra is an avid cook.
The change in scenery also prompted Jamie and Tra to re-evaluate their furniture and accessories. While some items worked, others seemed out of place. The couple’s solution: replace inappropriate ones with more fitting finds, piece by piece. “We didn’t have any of the antiques we have now,” says Jamie. “So we began searching in local antiques stores for things that made sense with the period of the house.”
Not everything in Vinewood that looks like an antique is one, as the dining room’s corner cupboards prove. They provide a great way for Jamie to display his col-lection of brown transferware. Other updated elements, such as clean-lined upholstered sofas and chairs, modern-day light fixtures with a vintage flair, and soothing paint colors, also reinforce his ability to seamlessly mix new features with the old.
Whenever family and friends drop by Vinewood and marvel at the progress that’s been made, they mistakenly assume that the couple is ready to sit back and bask in their handiwork. But then another project catches the homeowners’ attention. “There’s always something to do here, and that’s what I love most about this house,” Jamie admits. “In a way, I don’t want Vinewood to ever truly be done.”
Jamie’s Renovation Tips
With his background in historical preservation, designer Jamie McPherson proved to be well-equipped in undertaking a project like Vinewood. That’s why we weren’t skittish to ask for his honest take on restoring an older home. Here are his non-candy-coated (and greatly informative) responses.
- Know up front that a house like this is not suited for everybody. “Tra and I love everything about Vinewood, even its creaks and cracks and the occasional draft. Folks who prefer new homes and expect that everything should be sealed tight might run themselves crazy filling every hole and gap in an older home. It just comes with the territory.”
- Remember that patience is key. “If you decide to move into an older home like this one, don’t just launch into tearing out walls and immediately start altering things. Move into it and allow it to stay ‘as is’ for a time. Let it speak to you; let it tell you what to do. Then go into action.”
- Set your priorities. Things like heating, cooling, and plumbing should be the first factors addressed―but even those necessities shouldn’t detract or take away from an older home’s aesthetics. Also, because closet space tends to be minimal, you might have to get very creative in deciding where items like the hot water heater or return air system should go.”
- Go into a project like this knowing that it’s a process. As an example, Jamie gives this humorous account: “Tra is a hair stylist and drives back and forth between Newnan and Chattanooga every week. One Tuesday he left for work and returned Thursday only to find that I had ripped out all of the existing kitchen cabinets. After that, we functioned without a kitchen for six months. To make do, we cooked out―a lot!”