At Home with Alicia Barnes
This private retreat gives Alicia her modern glam, and Jacob his perfect kitchen for day-to-day living, or parties for a crowd.
By Melissa Sprouse Browne Photos by Haley A. Durham
One closet to rule them all. The closet that redefines the word. The closet women dream about … If you think these descriptions of the Midland’s most amazing closet are too strong, you haven’t yet experienced the master closet of Alicia Barnes.
The ABC Columbia news anchor and her husband Jacob John have created a private retreat with striking features, not the least of which is the closet adjacent to the master suite. It’s rare that a simple storage area would warrant such high praise, but in this beauty, it’s a room unto its own.
“I have always wanted a closet that made me feel like I was inside a boutique,” Alicia said. “A closet that had mannequins and a place to sit down and relax and a bar cart.” A simple walk-in closet pales in comparison to this masterpiece created by Alicia and the genius Robin Weston of The Closet Factory. Together, they toiled for several months on a custom design. The closet construction and so many other elements in her home are the product of collaboration with local professionals who’ve helped bring a precise vision into being.
“There is so much that goes into picking out the design of a closet that I never realized,” Alicia explained. “Like the Bird Cage antique brass handles; there were hundreds of choices.” As the closet opens to the master bedroom, the look is feminine, but it doesn’t overwhelm the larger space at all. “I was told my taste is called modern glam. If you ask Jacob, he will tell you my two favorite colors are pink & champagne.” The closet is bathed in this palette.
She’s looking for the perfect Lucite desk to add on the right side of the closet. “I want to place a small desk so I can sit and take care of correspondence, but I haven’t found one just yet,” she mentioned.
Since this wardrobe is for the bride and not the groom, everything in the design is targeted to her requirements. “I am 5’10”, so the average measurements were not my measurements. I loved creating a custom closet that was specific to what I needed. My closet is definitely for a tall person who loves very deep drawers!” When you open the top drawers in the main cabinet, you’ll find a padded silk lining, perfect for storing the most precious jewelry.
Texture is everything for Alicia, so in the closet and elsewhere in the home, varying textures abound. “The slabs my shoes rest on are a stone texture and the doors are Contour White by Brushy Creek Custom Doors,” she said. They have a slightly grooved face, giving an elegant touch to an oft-overlooked component.
“Doors that covered my wardrobe were a requirement per Jacob. He didn’t want to see clothes all over my closet, so doors definitely give it a cleaner look. And, the puck LED lights also dim, so you can always set the mood perfectly. If you open the doors, you will see my closet is actually color coordinated,” she continued. The clothing is sorted by color, with darks on the right giving over to brighter hues on the left.
Long gowns, boots, heels, flip-flops and bags all have their place in a scheme of coordinated organization. Pretty evening clutches sparkle behind clear glass doors, ready to make their debut at her next formal event.
“I spend lots of time in my closet, which is quite therapeutic and is usually the place where my girlfriends hang out,” Alicia said. With seating for four or five friends, a full length mirror, dress forms and plenty of things to use for playing big girl dress-up, this closet is the place to be.
There’s much more to this home than the closet, though. But before we leave the subject of storage, it should be mentioned that Jacob does have closet space all to himself as well. In fact, two walk-in closets are ready for him to fill, as he has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to match his wife in the volume of clothing and accessories. His first closet looks great. His second closet has two items on hangers, looking ever so lonely in there. Maybe one day.
Now that the closet has received our full attention, let’s discover how this couple came to live in this home. “While we were on our honeymoon in Mexico, we received an offer to purchase our house. We came back from wedding bliss and had to move out very quickly. Luckily, my husband is a real estate agent, so Jacob went right to work,” she offered.
They looked at several houses before settling on the right one. “I was about to lose my mind because I knew we needed a house quickly,” she said. But, Jacob kept the search methodical and reasonable. His parents were away in India, so the couple stayed there for a little over a month. “I‘m so happy we waited because this house was exactly what we were looking for!”
They selected a home under construction, which was about seventy percent complete. “We were able to come in and pick and choose different upgrades to fit our personal style,” Jacob said. “There are still things I’d like to do, like add a nice bar in the kitchen instead of the desk. We don’t use the desk and the bar would be more functional. But, we have pretty much what we wanted.”
Their neighborhood is close to Lake Murray, which was a must for location. They’re members of the Lake Murray Boat Club and spend lots of time on the water. “If you’ve ever spent one day on Lake Murray, I think you instantly want to move to this area. There is not a day that goes by, that I don’t glance over and just get a feeling of peace from the view,” she said.
Having a house where they could entertain was key. With almost 4700 square feet, five bedrooms, four full baths and a huge master suite, there’s space for guests and family alike. Jacob added, “We really like the flow of the downstairs, so whether it’s a small dinner party or a Super Bowl party, we can accommodate.”
From the front entrance, you feel the serenity of the surroundings. Perfectly positioned furnishings and artwork give the impression of graceful living. While everything is in its place, you don’t feel like you can’t touch anything or simply sit down on the sofa. It’s welcoming and homey. “I love fresh flowers. I put them all over the house,” shares Alicia, who wants you to feel at home and comfortable at all times.
To get each room to the level they wanted, advice was sought from a professional interior designer named Anna Hammett. Jacob and Alicia are huge fans. “Anna will always be our interior designer for every house, or any time we want to change up a look. Her taste and style is out of this world. And, she really knows how to listen to what you want and make it amazing. Anna doesn’t take on many clients, but if you are lucky to hire her, you’ll be incredibly pleased,” she said.
The dining room is the first room you encounter from the entrance. The coffered ceiling has a tri-color treatment, with white trim, grey and navy. The neutral hues give you options for many decorating schemes as the seasons change, and don’t hold you to a single look. The light fixture’s shape mirrors the table’s rectangle, as do the chair backs. The flooring in the dining room and the majority off the downstairs level is warm, hand scraped hardwood in reddish brown.
The family room has a bold paper with a strong texture on the fireplace wall in dark charcoal. The soft white leather sofa, light carpet and a mixture of tables made of different surfaces come together in the main living space beautifully.
The ladies lounge is a private retreat where Alicia and friends can go to relax and enjoy the piano and each other’s company. This room has changed dramatically in a short time, as the artwork that graced the walls was painted by Alicia and has since been sold. She’s working on a new look for this room, but will be keeping the same color scheme. The wall finishes here are gorgeous, with a showstopper wallpaper with a Mica stone texture for the accent wall. The top portion of the three remaining walls is covered in a silk paper and the bottom portion is a blue/grey blend that was hand-painted. The faux finish here was created by a local artist with a tremendous following – Gena Antonelli. “I love faux paint and she just makes it work. She’s able to do anything,” Alicia enthused.
The kitchen is very open and has space for gathering friends and cooking, all at the same time. You’re not going to feel cramped, as there’s plenty of room to walk around away from the appliance row.
Jacob is the cook in the family. “I just like the flow of the kitchen,” he explains. “I’ve got plenty of room to put things by the stove, and I can turn around and have the island as working space as well. Alicia is about style and fashion and I’m more about functionality. Everything is right where I need it.” They use the long counter space as a buffet when entertaining, so he has room to put out each dish, which he has also styled with his culinary skills. When asked if he has any formal training as a chef, he replied, “Yes. I watch the Food Network!”
Texture plays a role in this room as well, with yet another type of textured wallpaper applied as an accent. “If I’d done the whole kitchen with this paper, it would’ve been your mom’s kitchen. Just too much,” she said. “But when you first walk into the house and your eye catches it, it really flows.”
The brown hues in this space are favored by both Jacob and Alicia. They fell in love with the shabby chic sideboard and thought it made a great addition. Placement was also used to interesting effect, with the table and chairs placed in opposition to where they’re expected to be in the everyday kitchen with a bay window.
One of the most impactful changes the couple made from the standard fare is the selection of unique and beautiful light fixtures. The statement piece hanging over the kitchen table has such a story. It was ordered by Alicia and when it was unpacked at the house, she thought, ‘oh, no, Jacob was right, this doesn’t fit.’
“I told her it was ugly,” Jacob agreed. But being the finisher she is, Alicia decided to find a way to make it work. The problem was the bright chrome finish, which didn’t match a thing in the kitchen. “So, I finished it with a gold foil and then it worked with everything. The chrome looked cheap and it was not what we wanted, but now it has an antique finish and I love how it works with the other pieces in this room,” she explained.
The outside of the home carries the same tasteful attention to detail as the interior. “We love our backyard. We actually chose this lot because of the privacy. We also love the veranda that’s attached to the back of our house that has two ceiling fans that keep the climate quite comfortable, even on a hot summer day,” she shared. They also have a fire pit that’s perfect for roasting marshmallows when the weather turns cooler.
When the homeowners were asked if they’d do anything differently in construction or design, now that they've had a chance to experience the living space, the answer was no, with a minor exception. “Now that I’ve started the Alicia John Collection, and paint during my off time, I would have loved to have an art studio off the garage,” she said. Several of her pieces hang throughout their home. She recently held her first art show at Row Gallery on Millwood Avenue in Columbia. To view her work, visit www.blanca101.com
Wallcovering: Stroheim Mandira Mica Ice & Vanimo Viscoe Silk, Ethan Allen
Below Chair Rail: Faux Painting, Gena Antonelli
Floral: DeLoache Flowersâ€¨
Wall Color: Repose Gray, Sherwin Williams
Wallcovering: Stroheim Mahana Evening Mica, Ethan Allen
Floral: DeLoache Flowers
Wallcovering: Grasscloth, Stroheim Prome Paperweave, Ethan Allen
Inside Coffered Ceiling: Repose Gray, Sherwin Williams
Coffered Beams: Web Gray, Sherwin Williams
Non(e)Such Gift Shop
Floral: DeLoache Flowers
Lights: Libby Langdon for Crystorama Chandelier, Wayfair Quoizel Erin Mini Pendant in Vintage Gold, Wayfair
Wallpaper: York Lotus, Ethan Allen
Floral: White House Florist
Closet Factory, Robin Weston, Designer
Non(e)Such Gift Shop
Floral: White House Florist