Street Smart

In The Home
Photography by Sally Kolar

Photography by Sally Kolar

A golf-loving West Lake man and his wife made a wise choice when they found a home to raise their two young sons 

West Lake residents Rebecca and Brooks Blumenthal know a good opportunity when they see it. And when they learned they were expecting their second son three-and-a-half years ago, the couple, who lived on Pebble Beach Drive, weighed their options to accommodate their growing family.

They wanted a playroom and a larger kitchen, so they thought about remodeling or adding onto their existing home. After all, Rebecca and Brooks, a senior project manager for McKnight Construction, had remodeled three houses and built two from scratch. However, a “for sale by owner” sign in front of another home in the neighborhood prodded them to take another direction. Brooks, who grew up in West Lake, knew the owners of the house, and the location was perfect. 

“I love this street,” he says. “It’s my favorite street in West Lake. All of the neighbors are so friendly, and there is a nice of mix of ages on this street.” 

They fell in love with the house as well.

“The house needed a little tender loving care, but it felt real homey,” Rebecca says. “The original owners raised a family here. We could tell that good memories were made here.”

Back-Porch-Table-CloseupMemories of Their Own
The Blumenthals were excited about making their own memories with their sons, Reynolds, 5, and Bo, 4, in their new home. They started efforts to remodel the house to fit the needs of their family, and it took them six weeks to remodel the whole house before they moved in. “We ripped everything out – the cabinets, floors and light fixtures,” says Brooks.

They have continued to tweak their home, adding more built-ins in the house every year or so.

“The built-ins are timeless, and it helps brighten up the room more than a stand-alone piece of furniture,” says Brooks.

“And I like the storage,” Rebecca adds.

They added built-in bookcases to the family room and covered the previously stained wainscoting on the walls with white paint. They also replaced the tiles on the fireplace surround with brick pavers. They removed the door to the wet bar, which features a marble countertop and a mirror with a frame.

With two energetic young boys in the house, stain-resistant fabric on the family room furniture is essential. A cow painting on slats of wood hangs on one wall, adding a bit of whimsy to the room, and birch logs fill a basket by the fireplace. The room also features double doors, topped by transom windows, that lead to the porch and an outdoor kitchen.

 Family-Room-1The hardwood flooring in the family room extends into the hallway, office and dining room.

Rebecca, a former fourth grade and kindergarten teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School who now teaches half-day kindergarten, and Brooks both use the office. The previous owners used the space as a formal living room in the 1980s. Now, however, the office doubles as a sitting room where the boys watch TV while their parents work. A cabinet is filled with hand-blown glasses from Spain, which belonged to Rebecca’s grandmother. Brooks is a hunter, and a couple of European skull mounts hang on the wall above a built-in desk.

A 1960s black and white photo of Blumenthal’s, a clothing store that Brooks’ father ran in Greensboro, North Carolina, hangs on a wall in the office. A quartet of framed photos of buildings that Brooks built – including the Georgia Southern University library, which opened in 2007 – hangs on another wall. Georgia Southern holds a special place in the couple’s hearts – Rebecca is a native of Statesboro, and they met while they were undergraduates at the university. The office also includes a ceiling fan, recessed lights and a built-in desk.

STREET SMARTAcross the entryway, the dining room has a farmhouse table with a bench on one side and an upholstered chair on each end. The china cabinet showcases the china that belonged to Brooks’ parents. Beads are woven into the chandelier, and a tobacco basket hangs on the wall.

The kitchen flooring includes tiles of different sizes, a garage for small appliances, Quartzite countertops, a backsplash of white subway tiles and a farmhouse sink. They switched the positions of the stove and the sink.

“We redid everything in the kitchen,” says Rebecca. “We expanded the peninsula and added the light fixtures above it. I like to look out into the yard when I’m at the sink.”

The trilogy of Masters cookbooks is sandwiched between bookends on a countertop. “I love the ham tetrazzini recipe,” Rebecca says. “I make it all the time.”

The breakfast nook features a bay window, and a wooden pig lamp with a checkered shade sits on a table against a wall. Rebecca always leaves homemade goat’s milk soaps with masculine scents as well as Masters cake pops for their tournament guests on the breakfast nook table.

Master-Bedroom-1The master bedroom includes a trey ceiling and a ceiling fan. The Blumenthals replaced the carpet with hardwood flooring, and one of Rebecca’s college friends painted the three acrylics on the wall. They also added built-ins in the master bedroom last fall.

“The built-ins give us tons of storage, and the room feels bigger now that we don’t have a dresser or chest of drawers,” Rebecca says.

The adjoining master bath features a bay window, Quartzite countertops, a stand-alone tub, a walk-in shower and a bay window. The porcelain floor includes a porcelain tile rug, and soffit lighting illuminates the room.

“It gives the room a clean look, and it provides better lighting than wall sconces,” says Rebecca.

The soffit lighting was in the house before, but the Blumenthals shifted it to line up with the two sinks. “We redid the whole vanity,” Rebecca says. 

Livable and Fun
The Blumenthals replaced all the windows in the house, and the roof was new when they moved in. When they remodeled the house, Brooks took care of the electrical, plumbing and HVAC work while Rebecca added the finishing touches. “She’s good. I love her taste,” says Brooks.

Rebecca found most of their furnishings and accessories at a family-run furniture store in Brooklet, Georgia near Statesboro.

“It’s a hidden treasure,” Brooks says. “It’s the size of a Walmart, and it is full of furniture of different tastes. The owner rides around the place on a bicycle.”

The only accessory in the house that he picked out is the crystal chandelier in the two-story foyer, but he put his other talents to good use. Brooks also did the trim work in the house and added the screened-in porch and covered outdoor kitchen. 

“We use every bit of the house. We wanted to make it fun and livable,” says Brooks, whose mother and brother also live in West Lake. “Of course, there are usually Legos and Hot Wheels everywhere.”

Back-PorchThe porch is framed with cedar wood, and exposed tongue-and-groove pine decking is tucked between the cedar rafters. The stone fireplace features a mantel that is made of a piece of reclaimed wood. “It gives it a rustic look,” Brooks says.

The screened-in porch also has a stained concrete floor, strands of lights along the ceiling, a lantern light fixture and wicker furnishings.

“The porch is simple, but it’s functional,” Brooks says. “It added another room to the house. With the shades and the ceiling fans, we can use it year-round.”

Kitchen-1The outdoor kitchen includes two ceiling fans, a Green Egg, a refrigerator, a sink, two burners and stained cement flooring.

“There was so much brick already,” Rebecca says. “We use the kitchen a lot because we’re always outside.”

“It makes the boys feel like every meal is a party out here,” says Brooks. “Every day can be a holiday if you want it to be. It’s not easy. You’ve got to work for things, but life can be as happy as you make it.”

The Blumenthals also did some fortuitous work to their property. Two months before the ice storm of 2014, they removed about 28 trees – 16 in the front and 12 in the back – from their yard.

Open-Gate Policy
The Blumenthals also enjoy spending time with their neighbors, who range in age from their early 30s to their mid-70s.

“One thing we like about this house and the lot is we have neighbors on all four sides, but it doesn’t feel like it,” Brooks says. “We added gates on both sides of the fence. We have an open gate policy. The kids go back and forth, and everybody is happy-go-lucky. It’s fun.”

A large playroom in the house gives them plenty of room for fun as well. They added built-ins to the playroom and redid the carpet in the room, which also has two ceiling fans. The couch includes a queen-sized, pullout bed. 

“I told Rebecca that I wanted her to get the biggest couch she could find,” says Brooks. “I could picture the boys and me up here jumping around and pillow fighting. Being the parents of two boys is a neat little club. They’re like thunder and lightning.”

Brooks, who spent his childhood playing golf at West Lake, also started taking his sons to the driving range there at the beginning of last summer.

“I take the boys to the driving range once a week, and they play nine holes with me,” he says. “Bo likes filling in the divots with sand, and they chase the golf cart as much as they ride in it.”

Mostly, though, the boys are homebodies that have a good time wherever they are.

“We like to be outside, but we like it all,” says Brooks of their home. “Our favorite spot is wherever the boys are having fun.” 

By Sarah James