A while back, I sold my house in Kathleen. My plan was to move into my family’s home in Perry and promptly begin building. Promptly/Two-Years-Later I have begun building. I did manage to publish A Time to Cook and Dinner on the Grounds in the meantime… and open my store and office in Downtown Perry. Thus, the last couple of years haven’t been that unproductive! The last year in particular has been tough too with some major familial changes too – we lost both my Mimi (maternal grandmother) and my Mama (my mama) within a year. But, the Good Lord giveth when He taketh and Baby Napp came to us all just before Mimi and Mama’s passing – and not a moment too soon!
What this Farmer needed was a fresh start in an old place. A new house to call my own and start over in a sense – a new house that would be home for not just me, but the homeplace for my sisters, Maggie and Meredith, and their burgeoning families. We Farmer “chillrun” needed our own nest to fly back to. A new nest full of promise and hope and happiness for the “new normal” that has become our lives. It is with that macabre humor yet hopefully positive spin I present to y’all “Farmdale Cottage.”
“Farmdale Cottage” is the name of the new nest for yours truly and for my sisters to call home. It sits within a dale in the woods of my family’s land in Perry. My aunt and uncle are literally on the same property. That means for all our family gatherings and holidays, we will all be like Christopher Robin – deep in the hundred acre wood! We will all be together for those times most importantly, but we can all be together in our own beds… who am I kidding, we all end up piled together like we did as children. Some things never change!
A little history…
When I was fourteen, Mama and Daddy took us to visit the “Centennial House” in Atlanta. It was the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and Southern Living had built said house under the design of Spitzmiller and Norris. Over the next eighteen years, I would stalk the streets of Buckhead and eagle-eye homes I just new Robert Norris and Rick Spitzmiller had their hands on. Their website became a beacon of design hope and a resource for inspiration and good taste. Never did I imagine that this dream team of architects and their amazing firm would be designing my very own home!
As a designer, an editor-at-large with Southern Living and an author, I have the marvelous opportunity to travel The South and visit fantastic homes and charming towns. Of course, I end up meeting awesome people too, thus my Christmas card list grows with each story assignment or book tour! One day though, I was home in Perrydise perusing through a nearly ancient copy of a Southern Living house plans book I had grabbed from the grocery check-out line years ago. I’m a bit of a magazine hoarder (first step is admitting right?) and I stumbled on a plan for a cottage designed by Spitzmiller and Norris. It was a Coastal Living plan but still in the SL fam. Anyways, I looked and looked at that plan and kept thinking that the house seemed so familiar. “Had I been there?” I kept asking myself. “Was this a showhouse I toured and just don’t recall?”
The house was simply meant to be my house. It felt familiar and “homey” simply just looking at it from the pages of the magazine. I knew this was the cottage for me! The home for this Farmer to build in his dale! A short time later, I find myself in the Atlanta HQ of “Rick and Bobby’s” architectural firm – becoming fast friends with their team and the two principle architects as well. Anytime a group of Southerners bands together to talk about architecture, homeplaces, family and paint colors, you know it is going to be a fun time! I couldn’t be any more thrilled with the plans, for Robert took some of my crazy ideas and integrated them into the plans. He thus revamped the SL plan for yours truly and made the house plan my new home’s plan. And, don’t be too surprised if this little project ends up in the magazine… I’m just saying… wink, wink, nod, nod.
Each day, I annoy and distract my builders (my pals with Wall2Wall construction out of Hawkinsville) with questions and ideas (I tell them that they’re not “change orders” but “ideas for improvement”), and I wake up like I did as a young boy excited for Christmas morning – but now to see the house’s progress and not what Santa brought. But… if Santa is reading, I’m sure I can be really, really good from now until Christmas and maybe I can get those andirons I’ve been drooling over? Or maybe some more pecky cypress beams? I digress…
If any of y’all have ever built a home, you know it is a PROCESS!!! A tedious and slow process but then some things come at you so fast you almost have to close your eyes and point! You have to pick out appliances, wood selections, plumbing fixtures and all sorts of things you never imagined in a jiffy and then wait 3 months! Yes, my day job is designing and making my clients’ homes and gardens lovely places to call home, but when it is MY house I have a tough time! The cobbler’s kids never have shoes and the designer’s house is a mess! Ha! Thankfully, I have a FABULOUS design team at JFI, so they love helping me I’m sure! Ha! I entice them with peach ice cream and cobbler from Lane’s and then “oh yeah, we’re just going to stop real quick by Farmdale…” At least they get some cobbler right?
I did enter the project with a few things I knew I wanted and would not settle – unless that pesky ol’ “b” word raised its ugly head…budget! I knew I wanted a metal roof, board and batten siding stained dark, a brick foundation with large semi-louvered panels, old brick floors where I wasn’t using heart pine, heart pine countertops, painted brick somewhere and true, working shutters. Knowing that, I then have to focus on other elements, but KNOWING for certain some of the key components to the home is very settling. Knowing a few major elements is like having a North Star to keep you focused and on target.
So, here is a rendering from my fantastic friends at Spitzmiller and Norris of “Farmdale Cottage.” I’ve catalogued pictures along the way, so stay tuned to the “Farmdale Chronicles” for updates on the house. I hope y’all enjoy this series. I’m going to need your support to get through it and get into it!!! Can’t wait to host my first dinner party! Until, then, the construction continues… “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!”