Photography by Haley Lamb
A prime piece of property in Appling – plus lessons learned from previous homebuilding experiences – add up to a dream home for this family
Appling resident Mark Ivey has a theory.
“If you want to test your marriage, build a house,” he quips.
He and his wife, Sonia, have been more than willing to test that premise. Fortunately, their marriage has survived the homebuilding process not once, not twice, but three times. And with each new house they learned something along the way.
The first time, they couldn’t agree on colors. The second time, says Mark, who co-owns Ivey Homes with his brother, “I learned a key phrase – ‘Yes, dear. If that’s what you want.’”
For their third home, where they have lived since June of 2016, they divided the decisions evenly. “I really enjoyed this process. Most of what we build is production-oriented,” says Mark. “With a custom home, you get a chance to think outside the box.”
Mark spent a lot of late nights sketching out their new home at the breakfast room table. “We worked on this floorplan for a long time,” he says. “It changed over the years.”
They knew they wanted a casual, rustic look for their home, and they wanted to build on a site with plenty of open space. After searching for land for about six months, they finally found 25 acres in Appling. It took another four months to negotiate the purchase. The Iveys ultimately divided the property into three lots, keeping 12 acres for themselves.
To take full advantage of the property, they positioned the house, which took nine months to build, so that it faces a wide open field and offers a view of Burks Mountain from the front porch. The covered porch also features a stained V-groove ceiling, rocking chairs and two ceiling fans, making it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the scenery.
“You can sit on the front porch and watch the sun set,” says Mark. “The dog will sit on the front porch and chew on a stick.” (The bigger the stick, the better.)
The sensory sensations continue even after the sun goes down. “We can hear the whippoorwills at night,” says Sonia.
If there are any lingering doubts that land isn’t important to the Iveys, then a painting in their wide foyer puts that notion to rest.
Sandwiched between a pair of distressed shutters on a brick wall, the painting, which Sonia had done for Mark, depicts his father’s old home place in Lincoln County. The homestead is still standing on 200 acres of land. No one lives in the house – where Mark’s father Jake grew up as the youngest of eight children – any longer, but family members still go to the property to hunt on weekends. “A lot of that heritage is in our house,” says Mark.
For instance, they used wood from an 85- to 100-year-old barn on the Lincoln County property in several rooms in their house. They incorporated old brown wood from the interior of the barn on a wall in the dining room and a wall in the family room. One of the walls in Mark’s office features gray wood from the exterior of the barn behind the built-in bookcases.
In the family room, the barn wood also lines the wall behind the built-in bookcases, where birdhouses made by Mark’s uncle are perched in glass-front cabinets above the top shelves. One of the birdhouses looks like the barn on the Lincoln County family property, and Mark’s uncle even used some of the wood from the barn to build it.
Two framed photos that Sonia took of the setting sun hang on the walls in the family room as well. Sonia took one of the sunset photos on their property; she took the other one at Clarks Hill Lake. The family room also features a raised hearth fireplace and a painted V-groove ceiling with coffered beams.
The dining room also includes an accent wall with board and batten wainscoting. “In each room, we tried to put one focal element,” Mark says. “It’s a little different in each room.”
The house also features heart pine flooring, which was distressed with a chain, throughout the first floor and 2.5-inch cove crown molding on all of the downstairs doors and windows. “It gives it a little more weight at the top,” Mark says of the crown molding. Three-paneled doors can be found throughout the house as well.
Although the Iveys were certain about some of the features that wanted in their home, Mark says the kitchen was the most difficult room to design. In fact, he says, construction on the house was delayed for two months until they could settle on kitchen plans. Ultimately, however, Mark cooked up a design that was worth the wait.
A maple wood, stained island with an amarone granite countertop occupies the middle of the room. The granite was honed and brushed to give it a dull appearance. “We built the room around the granite,” Mark says.
The room also includes black titanium countertops around the perimeter and painted cabinets. The top cabinets feature seeded glass doors, and cabinet panels cover the front of the appliances so that they blend into the décor.
The fluted apron-front farmhouse sink is divided into two sections for washing pots and pans– one for clean water and one for sudsy water. Apparently, old habits die hard.
“My mama taught me a certain way to do things,” Mark says, “and my wife reinforced it.”
The kitchen also features a coffered pine ceiling, which extends from the family room; a beveled, textured tile backsplash; lots of drawers and wood and metal lights above the island.
“Picking out lights was hard,” says Sonia. “We had to picture how the size and proportion would look in the room.”
Like the kitchen, the butler’s pantry features black titanium countertops and seeded glass door cabinets. An antique mirror and 6-inch cover crown molding accent the space.
Pulling It All Together
The laundry room features a solid oak barn door, 12-inch-by-24-inch tiles on the floor, a desk area for Sonia, a folding counter and a sewing center.
A brick doorway topped by a cedar header leads into the mud room, which is the chief domain of the Iveys’ black Labrador retriever, Remi (when he is not outside chewing on sticks or racing ahead of their son, Will, when he rides his dirt bike). The coated concrete floor was built with Remi in mind – “He can’t hurt it,” says Mark – and he sleeps in a cutout under the stairs. A pair of sepia family photos in burlap frames on a mudroom wall add to the home’s rustic décor.
The hallway that connects the mudroom to the master suite features a framed 1910 Columbia County militia district map on one wall. Another brick doorway with a cedar header leads to the master suite. The master bedroom features a V-groove pine ceiling and a bump-out wall that resembles a bay window. The adjoining master bath includes a tile shower, standalone tub, Cambria countertops and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures.
“When you pick things out individually, you’re nervous about how it will look together,” Mark says.
Sonia agrees. “It happens in stages from the tile to the granite to the paint colors,” she says. “But seeing it all come together is a lot of fun.”
Fortunately, they had expert help from Ivey Homes design consultant Robin Sullivan to guide them through the process.
A bonus room above the garage includes a slope ceiling, which was made of tin from the family barn and sprayed with sealer, and a shiplap wall. They also included an adjoining full bath in case they ever decide to convert the room to a bedroom.
Another shiplap wall creates a focal point in the upstairs loft area, where Will plays video games. The loft, which includes a hall tree with a seat that was an Ivey family piece, can be seen from the foyer when looking up the stairs.
The covered back porch features wicker furniture, a gas brick fireplace with a cedar mantel, two ceiling fans, a V-groove pine ceiling and a flat-screen TV behind cabinet doors.
“During football season, we can open the cabinets, and I can see the TV from the kitchen,” says Sonia.
They dropped the back porch down to eliminate the need for a railing and to keep the back of the furniture from being visible from the house. The side porch features a grilling area.
“We really like the privacy in the back,” says Mark. “We knew we wanted a view in the front and privacy in the back.”
They recently built a shop on their property – Sonia got outvoted 2-1 by Mark and Will – but she still has hopes of adding a swimming pool in the backyard one day. In the meantime, though, the Iveys couldn’t be happier with their home or their land.
“We never thought we would wind up with a spot as pretty as this,” Mark says.
By Sarah James