Should they stay or should they go?
That was the decision Penny and Chick Miller faced after 25 years in their Bocage Estates home. The functions they had designed their home for in 1986 had changed. Their children were grown, they were both retired and their lifestyle was more casual.
“We had to make a decision to stay for another 10 years or move,” Penny Miller said.
For five years, they agonized over whether to build a new home or do a renovation.
Finally they decided, as Penny Miller said, to “tweak our house up a bit and make it more functional for the next 10 years.”
That “tweak” evolved into a major renovation that required them to move out of the house for months.
“It was much more extensive than we thought it was going to be,” she said. “They tore down walls.”
The Millers hired architect Russell Washer, interior designer Jo Emmert and contractor Gary Spurlock, the home’s original builder.
They added a downstairs bedroom-study combination and bath, redid the kitchen, updated the dining room, redesigned the master bath and dressing area, redid the pantry to create a combination storage area and laundry room, added an entertainment area to the family room and opened the breakfast room to the kitchen and outdoor entertaining space.
What they created is a home that perfectly fits their lifestyle.
“It’s the best thing,” Penny Miller said. “We have enjoyed everything.”
When the home was originally built, it was decorated in a very traditional style. Over time, the Millers’s tastes changed. Working with Emmert, a relationship they’d had for about 20 years, the couple went with a more sleek, clean contemporary style.
“Jo has helped us make this as contemporary as a traditional house could go,” Penny Miller said. “I’m functional. She makes it pretty.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Emmert said, “to update to get more clean lines.”
Originally the house had a lot more color — lots of peach and plaids. “Over time we got rid of the plaids and dust ruffles,” Emmert said. “We started working on neutrals.”
She believes that neutrals work perfectly in the Millers’ house because of the rich finishes on their antiques.
“We built the color around these,” Emmert said. “The neutrals show them off.”
Possibly Miller’s favorite addition is the combination laundry room and storage pantry placed out of sight behind a wall in the kitchen. Washer allocated a 6-foot strip from the original living room, which had years ago been converted to a study. The new room, which is entered from the kitchen, has walls of storage.
“I use my things now because I can see them and get to them,” Miller said.
Emmert designed even more storage in the dining room in a wall of cabinets with mirrored doors, which reflect light from adjacent windows.
“It’s like having another window in the room,” she said.
Even though the Millers’ dining room set and her Oriental rug are very traditional, Emmert created a more updated look with neutral walls and draperies. One of the most interesting design features in the home is a wall of rock textured tile in the master bath. Emmert updated the room with large mirrors, porcelain tile floors and glass privacy closures.
The Millers are thrilled with the outcome because the home is perfect for their lifestyle.
“My only regret is that we waited so long to do it,” Penny Miller said.