King’s Grant Masterpiece
Good bones, and great design assistance helped make this renovated house a dream home. The killer closet sealed the deal.
By Melissa Sprouse Browne Photos by Robert Clark
When you spend six months working with an architect to develop the master plan for your ultimate dream home, the natural conclusion is the construction process. But even the best laid plans can have unexpected endings. When the Kirkham family decided that the better route was to find an existing home to renovate, a team of experienced professionals helped them find just the right place to call home.
“We started looking for houses and we hated everything we saw because we had just designed a dream home on paper,” said Ashley Kirkham. “Elizabeth Ferguson was our agent and took us to every house in the history of Columbia that was for sale.”
The strategy was to find a property with the features they really wanted (two stories, a convenient location) below their total budget to allow for renovations.
“We looked at this house and another one as serious contenders, but kept going back and forth on the decision,” Ashley said.
One of the features that helped solidify the final choice was the connection between the master bedroom and the finished room over the garage. Ashley found a better purpose than most for the extra space.
“Oh my gosh, I can have an entire room over the garage as a closet that’s bigger than anything I’ve ever dreamed of,” she exclaimed. The decision was sealed and the architect was added back to the team for advice on how to make this home into the one the family wanted from the beginning.
The Kirkhams made the purchase official last April and got busy customizing both the interior and exterior spaces. Structural changes were made and this home with great “bones” began transforming into the perfect place for this young family.
Matt Gilpin of Gage Construction was the contractor used by Ashley and her husband, Jason, for a previous home renovation. He was contacted and agreed to deliver the work needed on this property.
To round out the team of professionals, Linda Burnside of LGB Interiors became the primary resource for the home’s look and feel. She and her experienced designers handled details large and small in the total creation of a brand new living environment.
The Kirkhams started from a blank slate, purchasing virtually all new furniture and soft goods. The possibilities were wide open for a fresh take on what home could be for them.
“I will say I found Linda because of my mother-in-law. She said to look through a local magazine and find the pictures you like the best and call that designer,” Ashley shared. This choice led to an excellent partnership.
Senior designer Erin Rasmussen worked alongside Linda Burnside, guiding the homeowners on everything from furniture, tile, granite, lighting and more.
“They were amazing,” shared Ashley. “Before we really got started, Linda told me to go on Pinterest and pin random things we liked and she’d get our sense of style. When I went to meet with her, she’d taken the ideas from my Pinterest boards and showed me different pictures of things she thought I’d like and I loved them all.”
Special consideration was needed on the styles and durability of the furnishings, since the Kirkhams have two small children. “For example, with two toddlers, the bar stools needed to have backs and everything needed to be cleanable. Fabrics we used are made of Sunbrella and my kids can actually live with it,” she said.
The home’s original look was traditional in every way. A stately all-brick home on a cul-de-sac lot, it started with hardwood floors, smooth ceilings, heavy moldings, a standard kitchen with an island and a finished third floor. The 4,000 square feet of space gave them a large palette to convert from what Ashley terms “1990s fabulous” to modern functionality.
“We gutted and updated everything,” she said. “There was a formal dining room next to the kitchen. We took out that wall and created a huge kitchen, so it’s one open area now. If you’re standing at the stove, you can still see the game on TV. It’s all nice and open.”
The repurposing didn’t stop there. The study became the playroom, the master bath became a total retreat and the conversion of the FROG to an enviable closet space changed the character of the home in a substantial way.
Upstairs, the two girls each have a bedroom with a connecting Jack and Jill bath. The shared bath rocks a mermaid theme with cool tile.
“A fun find for us was the Charleston style rice bed we discovered at the Junior League’s Clean Sweep sale. It was only one hundred dollars and I found a man who could fix it for another hundred,” Ashley said.
The master bath is awash in cool greys with mixed textures that add visual interest. “My ‘Vegas bathroom’ is a lot fancier and more contemporary than I would have ever thought to do,” she said. Custom cabinetry is used with mirrored door fronts, which reflect the soft tones of the porcelain wood-look tile used as flooring. Silver wall sconces frame the mirror and geometric light fixtures add glamour. The deep soaking tub has a strategically placed shelf behind it so Ashley can enjoy reading a book while lingering in a warm bath after a long day. The faucet and sprayer are integrated into the shelf as well.
“Linda and Erin chose the finishes here and they work so well together,” commented Ashley. The working relationship between the designers and the homeowners was quite methodical. “I would go over there twice a month and it would be one thing each time,” she explained. “One time we did the lighting, one time the paint colors, and each visit had a purpose since we are so busy with our work and family. It was very efficient.”
Turning the room over the garage into a gigantic closet gave great satisfaction to Ashley. “Closet Factory did the master closet for us. There’s an island in the closet as if it’s a kitchen,” she said. The result is ample room to store all her clothing, accessories and shoes, along with room to grow her collection for the future. This massive closet adjoins the master suite, which is adorned with soothing bluish gray décor. The centerpiece of the room is the king-sized bed, covered in a teal quilt and white sheets with teal accents. The upholstered headboard is a warm gray that ties in to the various hues and patterns used here.
“I love the whole house, but I’d have to say my favorite rooms are the guest bedroom and bath because no one uses them and they stay just perfect all the time,” Ashley said.
For her choice of favorite rooms that are used regularly, her heart goes right to the kitchen. “We spend all our time in the kitchen,” she explained. “The kids are always eating and snacking and everyone ends up at the bar.” The bar stools that had to have backs to keep the children safe are made of a leather substitute and will wipe off easily with a damp cloth. “The kids can get spaghetti everywhere and all I have to do is wipe it right off, no harm done,” she said.
Rob Webb is the custom cabinet maker they used to build solutions in several rooms for storage. In the newly enlarged kitchen, Ashley wanted a place to display her heirlooms. “I was concerned about not having a formal dining room. I’m in love with my crystal and my grandmother’s china, and Linda and Rob worked together to give me the display space I needed.”
The Kirkhams moved into the finished home close to Thanksgiving of last year and enjoy living in their new house. “We wouldn’t do anything differently now. We really love it all,” Ashley said.