Over the course of 7 months, this project challenged us in more ways than we could have ever imagined, but in the end, it was so worth it. Dave and I walked through this “as-is” house in 10 minutes and made a snap decision to buy it and fix it up. The road was long, bumpy and, yes, there were moments we wondered if this time we had taken on more than we could handle. In the end, we were able to restore this house to the imperfect beautiful gathering place we had envisioned. The Welcome Inn is now open and ready to be a happy refuge to all who stay there.
First of all, we knew we didn’t want to change too much of the exterior look of this stately 1870s house. The house had originally been a 160-acre orchard with a working farm. It was important to us that we preserve the stately charm of this quintessential southern home. That included keeping the big porch, grand front entrance, circular driveway and high columns true to their original form.
We kept the original shape of the circular driveway and enhanced it with reclaimed brick along the edges, as well as along the front of the house. We also added flagstone pavers to the walkway from the front porch to the garage. Both porches (the bottom level and the second floor) were in bad shape. The wood was rotted, maybe from termite damage. Dave replaced all the wood in the two front porches and welded new metal railings to secure everything together. We added new siding, a new roof and painted the entire house white to bring it back to its former glory. Where there had been windows in the front, we switched them out for French doors that flank both sides of the front door, and we added floor-to-ceiling blush-colored shutters. The gas lanterns on the front porch add a finishing touch, true to the house’s southern charm.
Now, about the columns…
The original columns that were holding up the roof were basically sawdust inside. It’s possible that these busy little bees had been hard at work for close to 100 years. When we talked to one of the previous residents, who had lived there as a boy in the 1940s, he remembered the bees had been there even back then.
We called on our local bee expert, Steve, who estimated that between the two beehives, we had about 50,000 bees! Steve managed to save many of the bees with his special bee vac and transfer them to a safe temporary location while Dave built a bee box. The bees didn’t detour us. When life gives you bees, make honey! We put the bee box in the back garden of the house and will reap the benefits of honey. Now, the bees are not only part of the history of this house, but they’re also part of the Welcome Inn’s signature.
As for the columns, Dave scored a great deal on recycled natural gas pipes. He fitted them into the place where the original wooden columns had been. The metal pipes will last a couple hundred years, and they provided us the opportunity to do something we love to do – which is to repurpose old materials. Painted white to match the house, these beautiful columns are the most prominent feature of The Welcome Inn’s exterior.
Front Door Hardware | Emtek
Rocking Chairs | Cracker Barrel
Copper Gas Lanterns | St. James Lighting
Copper Electric Lanterns | St. James Lighting
Landscaping | Sharums Garden Center NWA
Shutters | Southern Shutter Co.
Garage Door Coach Lights | Kichler
Shutter Paint Color | Farrow and Ball Setting Plaster #231
Garage Door Paint Color | Farrow and Ball Setting Plaster #231
Exterior Paint Color | Benjamin Moore OC-17 White Dove
We wanted to surprise them with a dramatic entrance to the house. Rob asked for an aquarium to give a nod to their time living in Florida and in Hawaii, and we took it to the next level. This extra-large aquarium holds 1,000 gallons of salt water, houses a custom coral surround and serves as an interesting window into the wine room. For the wine room, Dave created a floor-to-ceiling wall rack with steel dowels to rest the bottles, and we added a small high-top table. Now, it’s a perfect spot to sit and view the beautiful fish while enjoying a glass of wine.
In the living room, the high ceiling and large windows let in plenty of natural light. The white paint throughout the open area adds brightness to the house, while the gas fireplace anchors the living room and keeps it feeling cozy.
What you didn’t get to see on the show is the fact that we installed a film to the front windows to create privacy for their family. When the film is turned on, the windows are opaque and neighbors walking by can’t see inside. A perfect solution without taking away from the incredible wall of glass and natural light.
Smokehouse Dining Table | DJM Collection
Smokehouse Dining Chairs | DJM Collection
Stonework | MLW Stone
Coachlights | Kichler
Outdoor Furniture | Outer
Outdoor Coffee Table | Lowes
Outdoor Side Table | HK Living USA
Fountain | Forever Design LLC
Custom Porch Swing | Dave Marrs
Chicken Coop | Carolina Coops
Ginko Tree Courtyard Furniture | Walmart
Chicken Coop Paint Color | Benjamin Moore OC-17 White Dove
Wall Paint Color | Benjamin Moore OC-17 White Dove