Rennie and deSha Carter knew they either had to add on to their small Hundred Oaks house or move. So when they heard a house two doors down was coming on the market, they pounced.
“I had been in the house one or two times, but I didn’t really remember much about it,” deSha Carter recalled, “but Rennie has such an attraction for our street, he bought it sight-unseen.”
Both houses started as small cottages, probably built right before or after World War II. But the house the Carters bought already had a large addition of a family room, porch, office and master suite.
“The whole east wing had been added about 15 years before,” deSha Carter said.
As part of a major renovation before they moved in, the Carters executed a laundry list of projects, everything from knocking down walls to painting.
To seamlessly meld the old part of the house with the addition, the couple took down a wall to eliminate a narrow hall that separated the two, and they raised the height of the door frames to open up the space in the entertaining areas.
Upon discovering red oak floors under the carpet in the bedrooms, they matched it for the rest of the house, and added new light fixtures.
The living room fireplace got an overhaul, with a new mantel and bookcases. In the kitchen, outdated appliances were replaced, and the cabinets were painted and given new hardware.
The Carters painted the two bedrooms in the older part of the home, removed the carpeting and refinished the oak floors.
The front bedroom, painted a cheery green with pink fabric, is decorated for their 8-year-old daughter, Caldwell. They also renovated her bathroom and opened an old coat closet next to her room to increase closet space.
Designer Patrick Tandy helped select the colors for the home, and lifelong friend Susan Maxwell lent a hand with the decoration.
The home is done in a completely neutral palette for a clean, modern look.
“My house is my place to recharge,” deSha Carter said. “The biggest compliment someone can give me is to say, ‘Your house is so peaceful.’ I love that.”
One of the most interesting rooms is the dining room, which opens to the living room, kitchen and den.
“Because it has no windows, we wanted to brighten it up,” said deSha Carter, who papered the room in a gold floral pattern with touches of pink flowers and added a wall of mirrors to reflect light.
The young couple filled the house with items they’ve collected, including several large pieces of furniture that belong to Rennie Carter’s mother, Sarah Watson, who moved to Fairhope, Alabama, about the time the Carters bought the house.
“She gave us a lot of furniture that we recovered,” deSha Carter said.
The dining room table belonged to Rennie Carter’s paternal grandparents but had been used by his father, the late Charles Carter, who was in the construction business.
“Rennie’s parents entertained a lot of politicians, including governors, because of his father’s business,” deSha Carter said. “Rennie always says, ‘If only this table could talk!’”
DeSha Carter knows the history of every piece in the house, especially the art, which includes several pieces she commissioned from local artists.
She believes young people often make the mistake of trying to buy everything at once.
“Collect along the way,” she advised. “We lived in our master bedroom for three years without lamps until we found just what we wanted.”