Last year, while running an errand, I missed a turn and traveled along a section of road that I had not been on in a long time. It was a serendipitous error, for I spotted a house that has become one of my favorites. It happened to be near the 4th of July when I saw this house, and I was charmed to see that the house had an enormous American flag hung across the front. It so inspired me that I went back at the crack of dawn the next day to capture a picture for my blog, and I dubbed the house ‘The 4th of July House’. A few months after this post, the architect who was in charge of the renovation emailed me and thanked me for the kind words in my post; the architect’s name is Bradley Heppner.
The name immediately rang a bell, as he was the architect who designed the charming house of the author of Whitehaven; I met her many years ago through a mutual friend, and was able to tour her house when I was trying to decide whether I should renovate or custom build.
The house I dubbed ‘the 4th of July house’
Since the time I first saw the 4th of July house, my path has crossed with Brad Heppner’s several times, although sometimes it was through one degree of separation. When I first met the amazing designer Amy Morris, she had a set of plans spread out on her desk, for a house designed by none other than Brad Heppner (not the house pictured above). More recently, my blog friend Architecture Tourist arranged for a tour of a house that was recently built in his neck of the woods, a contemporary masterpiece designed by – you guessed it – Brad Heppner (the interiors were by Amy Morris). I was delighted to finally meet Brad in person; he led the tour of the home, and it was spectacular.
Since the tour, Brad has become a ‘friend of the blog’. I recently asked Brad if I could feature the 4th of July house in a special guest post I was writing, and not only did he provide me with some excellent pictures, but he also told me the story of the house and how the new owners found it. This was clearly a special project for Brad, and now that I have seen the ‘before’ pictures of the house, I am in awe of the transformation that took place.
Here is the house in a ‘before’ picture, from an undated tax record. The house was originally built in 1967, and Brad calls it a ‘pseudo Greek Revival’ style so popular during that era.
This picture comes from the 2007 real estate brochure (before the current owners purchased the house). The color scheme of the house was softened by painting the brick, door, and shutters a lighter tone. Still, this was far from Brad’s clients’ dream home; in fact, they were reluctant to even show Brad this property because the house itself was so far from their style. The property was one of a kind, though; over 5 acres of usable land, and just a stone’s throw from their children’s school. Even after purchasing the property, the clients still weren't convinced they could ever get their ‘silk purse from a sow's ear’ from this house and contemplated tearing it down at several points during the project.
Here is a picture of the ‘after’ – quite a stunning transformation. Greek Revival was not the favored architectural style of Brad’s clients, so Brad recommended to "move in a direction that reflected a region interpretation of the Greek Revival style rather then adhering to the purity of the style itself”. The cedar roof was selected with this in mind; cedar is used as a roof material on some Greek Revival plantation homes in Mississippi and Louisiana, particularly in more agrarian settings. Brad used this as his precedent to begin to loosen up the formality of the Greek Revival and portray a feeling more closely related to a low country Natchez farmhouse. (Photo credit: Brad Heppner)
The formality of the Greek Revival style was also relaxed by adding a balcony between the front four columns of the house, breaking up what had been the rigid horizontal structure of the six columns. It wasn't until the interior functional changes began to develop (the entire floor plan was gutted and rearranged) and some of the formality of the Greek Revival style was relaxed that the clients began to realize that the house was becoming more then they ever thought it could be.
I asked Brad whether they had planted mature trees along the driveway, and he told me that the oak allée (a path lined with trees) was actually part of the original landscape, however no one ever seemed to notice them prior to the renovation. As Brad said, ‘they are one of those priceless assets that made this lot special no matter what we decided to do”. I also find the urns on the entrance pediments to be charming – the owners put different flowers or plants in them, according to the season. (Photo credit: Brad Heppner)
For more information on Atlanta based architect Brad Heppner, please visit his website - http://bradleyeheppner.com/. It is always inspiring to see how a talented architect and a client who is willing to trust the vision of the architect can transform a house and give it a whole new story for the next generation!
To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here.
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.