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Monday, April 25, 2016


South Highlands Fixer-Upper



An old gem of a home nestled in South Highlands sparkles after a local family infused it with memories, both old and new.

Blake and Catherine Thornton purchased the fourbedroom, three-bath home while living in Memphis, Tenn.

The HGTV show, “Fixer Upper,” and its stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines, inspired the couple.

“Mainly, we knew – when we moved back here – we wanted an older home,” Catherine said. “We would watch her [Joanna Gaines’] show, look at Pinterest, and went from there.”

A brick walkway winds to the covered front porch of the 1920s home on Gladstone. An arched entryway reveals a cotton boll wreath-bedecked front door, porch swing and rocking chairs. The bead board ceiling was original to the home. Blake replaced the porch’s carpet and concrete steps with brick.

Windows flank the glass-paned front door. In the foyer, a vignette atop a wooden console table features a mix of items including a clover-shaped mirror and a galvanized container filled with flowering branches. The walls in the foyer were painted with Sherwin Williams’ Mindful Gray.

The room next to the foyer is a work-in-progress. Blake and Catherine plan to make it into a living/dining room. An opening was made in an existing wall to create access to the kitchen. “We wanted to use this room and not waste the space, so we opened the room to the kitchen,” Blake said.

Catherine’s father’s antique high chair sits in a corner of the room. It was handmade prior to the Civil War. Another special piece in the room is a chair that belonged to Catherine’s grandfather. “My grandfather went to Harvard Law School, so this is his chair from when he graduated,” she said. “He graduated in 1946.”

The chair Blake received when he completed his medical training at the University of Tennessee, is also in the room. Several of the couple’s wedding gifts, including Arthur Court and Wilton Armetale serving pieces, are displayed on a buffet found in a Memphis antique store. Recessed lighting was added to the room, which had no lights previously. The walls in the room were also painted Mindful Gray.

The homeowners worked long distance with Red River Remodelers through weekly calls, e-mails and scheduled site visits. The contractor and design duo of Sean Thomas and Angie Jackson reworked the space to include a den, kitchen, eating area, mudroom and laundry room. Bookshelves, walls and even a bar were removed to open up the kitchen and den. 

In the kitchen, Blake painted the metal frames of the trio of windows above the new fireclay farmhouse sink. The camp lights above the windows are from Restoration Hardware. River Cities Flooring of Bossier installed a simple white subway backsplash from Daltile. They also installed the brick paved floor. Reclaimed Cypress floating shelves, milled at Artisan Millwork of Shreveport, were mounted on either side of the stove’s vent hood.

The white cabinetry is from the Aspect line carried by Red River Remodelers. The simple shaker door panels and slab drawer fronts feature Jeffrey Alexander hardware. Glass-front lighted upper cabinets display accessories.

Barrett’s Stone Gallery of Shreveport provided the Cambria quartz Torquay countertops. The header and beam in the kitchen were added for support and provide visual separation between the kitchen and den. The clear glass pendants above the breakfast bar are from Kichler Lighting. Ivy & Stone of Bossier City found the industrial modern counter chairs.

Square ceiling tiles were removed, recessed lighting was added to both rooms, and a ceiling fan was installed in the den. “We redid the entire electrical system in this house, because we had the knob-and-tube,” Catherine said. “While they were at it, they added the recessed lighting.”

Catherine said Blake’s discovery of shiplap beneath the wall coverings in the kitchen and den was like Christmas. “I had a hunch – it’s an old house – there might be something behind it,” Blake said. The walls and ceiling in the kitchen and den are now whitewashed shiplap.

The mudroom is one of Catherine’s favorite parts of the home, as it is the drop-off spot for their bags, lunchboxes and coats. Local cabinetmaker W.H. Stone crafted the butcher-block topped mudroom bench. The laundry room is tucked away past the mudroom and is an update to an area that, at one point, was situated outdoors.

The windows on each side of the den fireplace were replaced with French doors that lead to the backyard. The homeowners realized the need for the French doors after they noticed their children and dog needed a more convenient route outside. “After one day we were like, ‘That’s it,’” Catherine said. “The windows were beautiful, but we needed doors.”

A new mantel was added to the den fireplace. Fireplace Specialties of Shreveport reconnected the gas and added new logs. The den was in need of a table, so Blake built a wall console. It features another vignette the homeowners can change up as it suits them.

Jackson and assistant Mallory Jordan styled the home using pieces the homeowners purchased locally from Ivy & Stone, at Magnolia Market at the Silos (the Gaines’ home decor store in Waco) and pieces purchased in Memphis.

Bryan Brumley with Southern Hardwood Floors refinished the home’s original wood floors. A custom medium walnut stain in a matte satin finish was applied to give them an updated look.

Another project Blake took on was the stairs leading to the second floor. He removed carpeting and stained the wood beneath. The staining process took a week each time. “He would do every other step so we could still get upstairs,” Catherine said. “He would carry [the children] up or down during the process. It was almost a game for them.”

Working on their home has been a labor of love for the couple. “Every board we removed revealed a new treasure,” Blake said. 


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