BR Realtor Whitt puts found materials back into use in new house

As a Realtor, Betty Whitt spends her days studying houses, so when she decided to build her own, she had a good idea of what she wanted.

In one afternoon, Whitt and architect Dwayne Carruth planned her whole house. She contracted it herself using old materials she had collected for years. In eight months, it was finished.

“People thought I was crazy, but it was easy,” she said. “I hired the subs. I had a lot of help.”

The 2,100-square-foot house in Old Goodwood has a combination living room-dining room with an adjacent kitchen, a small sitting area, two downstairs bedrooms and a second story with a bedroom and sitting area.

The home is secluded from the street by shrubbery, with the main entrance through a lush courtyard with a fountain. A second courtyard at the back of the house has a casual outdoor kitchen, which Whitt calls her “cooking shed.”

“I wanted to see both of my oak trees when I look outside,” she said.

Landscape designer Michael Hopping assisted in the site planning, including the placement of the driveway and courtyards.

“I love the way he uses everything native and natural,” Whitt said. “It’s not overdone.”

In both courtyards are pass-along plants from friends. “Whatever people are giving, I take,” she said. “I can always find a place.”

The home is filled with Whitt’s collection of pottery including many pieces from Louisville, Kentucky, where Whitt was born and her parents grew up.

Many of the older pieces, including canisters done by John Taylor, a famous Louisville potter, were from her mother, the late Dotty Harris.

The canisters were wedding gifts to her parents in 1947.

When her mother died, Whitt acquired her pottery dinner service, which she now uses every day.

Whitt’s collection also includes pieces by local potters as well as items from her travels.

“It’s what I love,” she said. “My mother loved pottery. That’s where it comes from.”

The living room-dining room runs the entire width of the house from courtyard to courtyard.

Although this large room is painted one neutral color with stained concrete floors, Whitt put a ceiling of old wood over the dining area.

“It’s my homage to Mr. (A. Hays) Town,” she said.

The long, narrow kitchen is adjacent to the main room but not completely open to it.

“I didn’t want to be able to see the work area in the kitchen when I walked in the door,” said Whitt, who admits that when she entertains, the crowd usually ends up in the kitchen anyway.

Marble in the kitchen is from an old state hospital building. Her stone contractor offered to buff it up to make it “like new.”

“No,” she said. “Worn is exactly what I want.”

Some of her most prized possessions are a set of cherry twin beds in the downstairs guest room and a harvest table in the living room, both handmade by her father, the late Bright Harris.

“My dad could make anything,” Whitt said. He made the harvest table one Thanksgiving when her mother had invited more guests than their dining room table could accommodate.

After dedicating so much time and energy to building the house, Whitt is very happy with the finished product.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I would do it again.”

She did learn one lesson: “The subs mean what they say when they say they are coming on Wednesday,” she said with a laugh. “They just don’t tell you what week.”