When you live in a house long enough, it can be hard to look past the day-to-day and see the home’s true potential. That was exactly where Carolyne Groves found herself when she married Jim Cassidy. The fresh perspective Jim brought to the farm cottage she had lived in for nearly three decades led to a major renovation that breathed new life into a sturdy old home.
Carolyne and her first husband originally purchased the home and surrounding Simpsonville property in 1984, more for the acreage than the house itself. “We didn’t even look at the house when we bought this place,” Carolyne remembers. “I was boarding my horse, and I just wanted three acres out in the country so I could take my horse with me.”
Because it sat on 11 acres, the house—a two-bedroom, one-bath cottage with no central heat or air—seemed adequate to fill the gap until the new owners were ready to build a more permanent home. They made a few minor renovations to get it move-in ready. Babies were born, prompting more additions and renovations. After Carolyne’s first husband passed in 2000 she stayed on, and before she knew it she’d been making-do in that starter home for 30 years.
When Jim took up residence after the two married in 2012, he suggested the 70-year-old structure might be due for a face-lift. “He came in and just inspired me to change it all around,” Carolyne says.
Lots of tiny rooms were turned into one liveable space. The builder used a basic plan and offered great ideas to completely transform a long-lived-in starter home and make it wide open and welcoming, all without adding square footage.
The first major change was taking down all those walls and turning tiny rooms into one big livable space. Carolyne and Jim credit their contrac-tor, Bryan Stevens of Stevens Home Contracting, for his in-the-field decisions.
Among those was to vault the ceiling over the entire living, dining and kitchen area. “We wanted to have higher ceilings because it felt very claustrophobic,” Jim says.
“And especially because we knew when we took these walls out it was just going to look like one big long tunnel,” Carolyne continues.
The wood-vault ceiling makes way for light and air and a much roomier feel without adding any square footage. Additions were made to the back of the house to create a mudroom—essential for farm living—a pantry, and a breezeway that was eventually enclosed to give the four family dogs a room of their own.
The master suite was pretty well turned inside out. The existing master bath became a closet, one that owners of 1930s era homes often only dream about. The original master bedroom (which had been functioning as a den since that late 1980s renovation) was once again reimagined as the master bath, taking advantage of the original coal-burning fireplace that now boasts gas logs and a remote start.
Carolyne and Jim had been told the fireplace would have to come out to make the changes they wanted, but Stevens came up with a plan that not only preserved the fireplace for the master bath, but opened up the back-side of it to do double duty in the kitchen. “We had a basic plan, but [Stevens] came up with so many great ideas,” Carolyne says.
Stevens suggested mirroring the arch of the front door in the shape of the doorway leading from the kitchen to the back hallway. He also added a porch adjacent to the kitchen and sided it with reclaimed barn wood salvaged from another property Jim and Carolyne own just down the road from their home.
The inimitable design team of Bill Bates and Barry McElreath of The Rock House Antiques came in on the tail end of the project and made some pivotal suggestions with regard to color and furnishings, adding a light bright blue to the ceiling in several rooms and averting one potentially disastrous decision involving a sectional sofa. They also suggested adding a television to the sun porch, turning that once neglected space into one of the most used rooms in the house.
Carolyne has picked up parcels of land over the years, and her beloved Outlook Farm now encompasses 26 acres. “And as it gets bigger, I keep adding horses,” she says, with a contented smile that Jim seems to understand perfectly.
“She was born on horses,” he says. “She’s never going to give them up.”