Comfort and creativity, along with family and fun, highlight the Jones Creek home that was worth the wait for one couples.
When Evans resident Jenny Baker asked her husband, Tahriq, to look at a house in Jones Creek a little more than a year ago, he was willing to oblige. However, he was a bit confused as well. They had agreed that they wanted to downsize from the home they built in Grovetown when they moved from Maryland to Columbia County in 2013, but they also had planned to build another house on a lot off of Hardy McManus Road.
“I saw the house two years ago, but somebody else bought it,” says Jenny. “A year later, they put it back on the market.”
Even though the house had been out of sight, it never was out of mind for her. (She describes herself as a detail-oriented person, but she also has a tendency to stick with anything she likes. After all, she met her future husband when she was in eighth grade.)
“What made me fall in love with the house was the kitchen. I loved the window above the sink, the huge island and the gas stove,” she says. “And I fell in love with the sunroom.”
Although he had different reasons, Tahriq, who is retired from the U.S. Navy and now works at Fort Gordon, had a similar reaction to the house. “I loved everything about it. The design and the setup are perfect,” he says. “I can take a few steps and be with everybody in the house.”
Room for All
As much as the couple loved the bones of the house, they wanted to make some changes. The Bakers, who moved into their home a year ago in May, painted all of the walls, which were coated with bright colors of red, green or yellow, a neutral color. They recently remodeled the kitchen as well. Jenny painted the island brown, and she still wants to add pendant lights above it.
“We redid all of the cabinetry. We redid the knobs,” she says. “I wanted to make them pop and match the house.”
The kitchen also includes hardwood flooring, granite countertops, a wood and metal hood above the stovetop, a decorative tile backsplash above the stovetop and a warming drawer. The island features lots of storage space and a vegetable sink.
In the adjoining breakfast area, a mirror and scroll sconces hang on the wall above a side table. A rectangular wooden chandelier hovers above the breakfast table, and a ceramic pitcher, which says “nourish,” sits on the floor near the door to the sunroom.
Upholstered and studded chairs surround the table in the formal dining room, and an upholstered bench lines one end of the table. The large square table offers ample room for the entire family, which includes two grown daughters, two college-aged sons and a son-in-law.
Jenny used construction paper and a permanent marker to stencil the small signs with inspirational words such as “Hope” and “Love” at each place setting. A plaque bearing the Lord’s Prayer sits on a stand on the table, and artificial green apples fill a wooden bowl.
“I have mixed feelings about the chandelier. It’s very dramatic. It reminds me of Beauty and the Beast,” says Jenny. “I want to change it to something more contemporary.”
The dining room also features a double trey ceiling, wainscoting on the walls, a butler’s service counter with a tile backsplash, hardwood flooring, two white columns and windows that overlook the sunroom.
A doormat in that sunroom that initially caught Jenny’s eye says, “Our Happy Place.” The outside windows of the room crank open to let in a breeze, and the room offers a relaxing view of the trees and greenery in the tranquil backyard. Four rockers offer seating, and Jenny is growing cherry tomatoes, green peppers and chives in the sunroom.
Jenny’s favorite spots in the house are the sunroom and the sitting room, which is decorated with blue and white accessories. The pieces are arranged on the built-in bookshelves, the fireplace mantel and a curio in a corner of the room.
“I collect blue and white, but I had to stop because I got too much of it,” Jenny says.
A pair of cutout cloth blue and white ginger jars in frames are stacked on a wall. “I like to redo things,” says Jenny. “The fabric was on a pillow, and I cut it to make the jars.”
On either side of the framed fabric ginger jars, a clear glass jar sits on a small shelf surrounded by a distressed white frame. Small blue stones anchor the grass in the jars.
“I wanted something dramatic, so I got the tall grass,” says Jenny.
More glass jars are filled with white flowers on a wall in the master bedroom, which also features an upholstered headboard, a double trey ceiling, a couch by the window, a clock on a wall and a floor lamp in one corner.
A portrait of Jenny and Tahriq from their wedding day hangs on a bedroom wall. They had the portrait painted by an artist in Spain when Tahriq was stationed there during his naval career.
A door opens to the sunroom, and a set of double doors leads to the master bath. The spacious room includes tile flooring, a walk-in shower, marble countertops (which Jenny would like to replace with granite) and vanities on opposite sides of the room.
“My husband has to have his own side,” says Jenny. “I cannot share bathroom space.”
A jetted tub occupies the center of the room. The tub gives the space an air of rest and relaxation, and a pair of soothing word art signs by the tub say, “inhale, exhale” and “soak your troubles away.”
In another downstairs bedroom, Jenny’s creativity is on display. Both of their daughters used to play the violin, and she hung the violins and bows on a wall.
“I love to decorate,” says Jenny. “When we lived in Maryland, I used to walk through model homes and get ideas.”
Retreat & Reuse
The family room is Tahriq’s favorite spot in the house. “It’s a spot where I can relax, kick my feet up and watch a movie with my wife and kids,” he says.
The room includes a large leather couch; hardwood flooring; windows that overlook the backyard; an octagonal-shaped window; a raised-hearth, stacked-stone, gas fireplace; a TV; a ceiling fan and a door to sunroom. A rug on the floor softens the space.
The mantel is accented with chrome vases, and chrome lanterns sit on the fireplace hearth. White and chrome artificial flowers are tucked in greenery above the mantel.
“I spray painted some of those flowers. They were white, but I wanted chrome flowers to match the rest of the décor,” says Jenny.
A long hallway off of the family room is lined with doors that lead to rooms or closets, so Jenny made it easy for guests to find the all-important powder room. She made a wood sign that says “rest room” and hung it above the door.
“We have so many doors in this hall, so now no one is confused when they say, ‘Hey, where’s the restroom,’” says Jenny.
They turned the bonus room into an office, which came in handy after their sons had to come home from college to complete classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mickey Mouse-themed memorabilia adds a dash of whimsy to the work space.
The Bakers often visited Disney World twice a year – once for a family vacation at the beginning of each summer and again in July when their sons played in AAU basketball tournaments at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “A lot of teams from all over the world go there and compete,” says Jenny.
Tahriq coached high school and AAU basketball from 2009 until 2018, and Jenny often served as the team mom.
Their sons also like to spend time in the finished basement, which includes a brick, raised-hearth fireplace and a kitchen with tile flooring. Furnishings include a curved couch, a glass-top coffee table and an old desk that Jenny found at a local antique store.
“I snatched it up,” Jenny says of the desk. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I said, ‘It’s coming home with me.’”
A pass-through window in the kitchen opens to a covered patio, which features a granite ledge beneath the window, a tropical ceiling fan, tile flooring and a homemade putting green.
Jenny made the hanging shelves at the bottom of the basement stairs out of the wooden slats from one of her son’s old beds. They are suspended with ribbon on each side, and a button is secured on the top of each ribbon. The shelves hold bottles and a decorative “B” that Jenny wrapped in twine as well as an old point-and-shoot camera (with a flashcube – remember those?) that belonged to Jenny’s mother.
“I like seeing how I can reuse things,” says Jenny. “If I see something, I can visualize it in my head and make it happen.”
By Sarah James
Photography by Sally Kolar