Living on Hope
A concept about a forever home for two Midlands area empty-nesters develops into a dream-house filled with antiques and love.
By Clair DeLune Photographs by Jay Browne
The rolling hills between Blythewood and Winnsboro abound with pastoral views.
When you are a couple of empty-nesters looking for your forever home – one that will make you welcome each day and provide a tempting spot for your grown daughters to alight for a visit – those gently sloping green hillsides call out to you.
Alina and Doug Kale immediately felt their heartstrings tug when they stood atop a beautiful parcel of land on Hope Road. They quickly determined that “living on Hope” was exactly what they needed to be doing. In fact, the Hope Road house – once finished in August of 2017 – became a respite. Through their church, the couple learned of children who needed a place to stay, so the Kales did not hesitate to share their bounty. For nearly a year, they opened their Hope Road home to four siblings who needed a soft landing full of hope during a necessary transition.
That warmth and sharing spirit shines through in the couple’s entire approach to life, interests and design. Alina’s accents are rooted in Romania, as she immigrated to America with her family as a young girl, thus you see sparks of “old country” color and pattern in various design and décor flourishes. Doug has an abiding interest in World War II history – his collection, featuring many helmets and other artifacts, is visible throughout the many quirky nooks in this abode that marries the warmth of the farmhouse with the modernity of clean lines.
Architect Michael Haigler “brought some west coast influences having lived and worked in California for 20 years prior to moving back to Columbia,” and worked in concert with the couple to bring their shared visions to life; John Covert whose expertise in custom home construction, was the contractor; and Erin Galloway put her delightful touch to the project as the interior designer. The original concept of a simple farmhouse was elevated to an open-concept home with a massive stone two-way fireplace linking the living and dining rooms, with three porches overlooking the southern hills and dales.
The main porch is screened, has its own fireplace and a private entrance from the master bedroom; so you can imagine fall evenings warmed by a wood fire, then retreating to a deep sleep in the homey, antique-filled bedroom.
But we’re getting ahead of the story so, let’s go back to the beginning:
Come down the gravel drive around a wee bend and up crops what looks like a very tall refurbished 18th century house – it stands, tall and white with a traditional silver country tin roof augmented by modern cedar pergolas over the garage and front doors providing a pop of natural wood to offset the white and gray with warmth. The fact is that the house is a totally new build, but done with such respect for the past it could pass for a post-Revolutionary icon. Huge dark gray flagstones set into large pieces of loose white river rock echo the color scheme as they lead you to the front door.
Antique doorknobs are used throughout the house – once-turned, you enter into an updated cottage-style living room, flanked by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that are filled to the brim with eclectic items, art, whimsies and collectibles. The enormous trapezoidal stone fireplace is reminiscent of homes in and around Asheville, Doug’s childhood home.
The kitchen, dining and living areas are connected, and the ceilings are two-stories high, providing an open, easy feeling of comfort, thanks to huge beams from a long-ago factory in New York. The dining room has a rough-hewn table made from Dixie heart pine that was custom made for the Kales by a firm in Prosperity, South Carolina (a town that used to be known as Frog Level when those boards were first sawn). The foot-wide floorboards were made to look old but are practically the only wood in the home that was not reclaimed. Ceiling beams from a Charleston purveyor bring that room a feeling of being truly at home – the heart of a home is its hearth.
The light from the bank of glass doors in the dining room is outshined only by the enormous industrial chandelier. It took a long time for the team to find something that would answer the need for the piece to be big enough to not get lost in that large space, have sufficient pizazz to pop and still be rustic enough to fit into the overall scheme. Marrying an outer ring from an irrigation wheel with the vent from an old factory brought the perfect lighting solution home. It is vibrant and gigantic without being overwhelming. Dining chairs popping with bright, chippy, colorfully-painted motor oil advertising gives the space true va-va-varoom!
A huge kitchen island provides an eat-in and prep capacity, and mixes painted and raw wood for that old-time feel. Lighting that island is a triad of hand-blown hanging lightshades – each one a different bright color – individually made by artisans at One-Eared Cow Glass in Columbia.
The kitchen is a “beautiful mix of found and curated, from the blue cabinets, reclaimed wood island and beams, to the copper sink and soapstone countertops,” interior designer Erin Galloway said. “It is my job to help people love where they live. I love a space that tells a story and lets a family’s personality shine in the design process. It is important to me that no two homes look alike.”
In fact, the dark bluish-gray soapstone kitchen countertops with white striations are a favorite of both Alina and Erin. The nearly black oiled-bronze sink fixtures appear to be dated, but are – of course – new. The wooden stove hood ties back to the wood theme throughout the house. Stainless steel counters lie along another sunny wall in the laundry/mud room.
Past the kitchen is the guest suite – two bedrooms on either side of a lovely guest bathroom. The guest bath features one of Alina’s favorite touches: a brilliantly patterned ceramic sink from Europe featuring hand-painted glaze of black and white checks against wild pinkish florals. Alina tried to get antique mirrors for all the bathrooms, with a little bit of wavy glass and some pitting of the silver backing, to complement the look of the new house that has quite an old spirit. Each of the lower level guest bedrooms has a door leading out to its own private patio.
Up the steps with a very modern cable balustrade is Doug’s home office for his business, Prestige Garage Doors; and yes, he did put in the beautiful garage doors at the front and rear of the home – adding another touch of woody warmth. The office overlooks the dining area and exudes an airy, unfettered feeling. He bought a WWII-era Willys Jeep and plans to make it into a desk, in keeping with his other war memorabilia from the mid-century. Down the hall is a grouping of glassed-in cabinets for his many displays as well as two more guest rooms, another full bath and a finished room over the three-car garage that might become a game room someday.
Back downstairs, the master bedroom off the living and dining rooms is an homage to farmhouse comfort. A sleigh bed and a Mission style chair are fluffed to the max with cushiony pillows and soft quilts that Alina enjoys putting to good use. The bedside light fixtures were also upcycled: fashioned from black iron apple conveyors from yet another defunct plant. The windows beam light from the green glade outside that runs between two pine forests alongside their home. A thick-walled porcelain bathtub awaits a leisurely soaking, but for days when there is no time to luxuriate, a large glass and tile shower beckons invigoratingly.
Don’t forget where we came in: the master’s special exit onto the screened back porch, which has concrete floors pressed into wood whorls to complete the attention to detail in the home. Beyond that porch is a raised garden that Doug built for Alina’s green thumb. The evidence of it was in abundance as the crops were pushing up eagerly to meet the summer sun.
“Quite often we look out and see deer grazing on the property,” Doug said, attesting to the peaceful nature of the tranquil, bucolic scene.
Michael Haigler, whose architectural motto is “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary,” summed up the team project: "It is always an honor to create a new home for a family, but in this case it was a unique pleasure to experience the spaces being personalized by Doug, Alina, and Erin with color, collectibles, and character to make it a true home that celebrates their diverse family and this spectacular site."
Living on Hope is a long-held dream for many that has truly become a reality for one warm and caring Midlands family thanks to the help of these dedicated and talented professionals.