Couple works to make Idle Hour home their own

Peggy Yates took a shortcut one day and found the home of her dreams.

It was at 321 Idle Hour Drive, off Richmond Road, right around the corner from the building where she worked. She made arrangements to get the keys so she could see it.

“I was sold on the house immediately the first time I walked in,” she said. “It reminded me of how my granny’s house felt when I would visit her. It seemed enormous.”

She wasn’t at all daunted by the prospect of essentially remodeling the entire house, knowing there would be no shortcuts in her quest to make it match her vision for it.

“Even though I didn’t like anything about the way the house was decorated, it just felt like home to me,” she said. “I could see what it could be.”

She and her husband, Stephen, moved in on Halloween. Almost at once they began the work of making their visions a reality.

“We always had a project going,” Peggy said. “We love projects, so little by little we turned it into our home.”

First Things First

Carpeting covered all the floors, even in the bathroom. So one of the first projects they took on was ripping it all out and replacing it with something warmer and homier.

“We put hardwood on the floors in the family room and extended it out to the kitchen,” Peggy said. “It really opened up the living room and dining room and kitchen. They just flow real well.”

The kitchen received a major upgrade.

“The kitchen was black and white with striped black and white walls,” Peggy said. “It was terrible on the eyes. If you looked at somebody, you’d start seeing black bars running across them.”

They repainted the walls and added granite counters, tile backsplashes and stainless appliances. They also changed all the light fixtures. The cabinets have glass doors that let them display their dishes and the pottery they collected over the years.

They made the dining room more accessible and inviting by replacing an unframed 32-inch door with double French doors. The flooring in there had been “pickled,” giving it a grayish look. The new hardwood improved the room’s aura immensely.

They turned the formal living room, located across the foyer from the dining room, into an office and library. They did the crown molding in there themselves. In the family room just off the kitchen, they replaced the paneling with wallpaper.

“The walls were not in good enough shape to paint so we had to put a special kind of cover over them and then the wallpaper,” Peggy said. Then they painted the wood-burning fireplace to match the new wallpaper.

After 26 years, all the projects are complete.

“It’s nothing at all like the way it used to be,” Peggy said. “It has been a labor of love for both of us.”

“The house is unique in different ways,” added Stephen.

‘Our Happy Place’

Upstairs are two bedrooms that have deep closets and lovely views of the back yard.

“We didn’t have any curtains or blinds in our bedroom until about six years ago,” Peggy said. “You can’t see in because of the trees.”

The focal point in the back yard is a chestnut oak tree that provides plenty of shade. The tree is a champion; the Yateses have a certificate naming it the largest in its species locally.

“When I brought Stephen over to the house at first, he said he couldn’t imagine us living here,” Peggy said. “I started to explain to him what we would do, and he saw that tree out there and I think that’s what really got him.”

They built a backyard terrace with flagstone steps and later a brick walkway was added. Stephen and Peggy enjoy sitting in their screened-in back porch – “It’s nice and pleasant out here,” she said – but working in the yard was something they enjoyed doing, too.

“We did a lot of planting,” Peggy said. “We gradually turned the yard into our happy place. I can remember several times when we were forced to go back into the house because it had gotten dark on us while we were working in the yard.”

Making it easier to work in the yard is the mud/laundry room installed by the previous owner. Accessible from the back yard, it features a shower because the former owner didn’t want to track mud and dirt into the house after being in the yard.

“We painted all the walls and put the tile down on the floor, and Stephen built the cabinet in here,” Peggy said.

The Yateses look back fondly on the many happy years they have lived on Idle Hour Drive.

“We have really enjoyed it here,” Peggy said. “The neighbors are absolutely wonderful. They come and help if you ever need anything. It’s been great living here.”

But now it’s on to the next project – downsizing.

This week’s feature home is listed with Myra Wathen of Turf Town Properties.