A FRESH MAKEOVER
Photography by Michael Patch
Renovations & Lighter Décor Update Charming Forest Home
Christine and Frank Crist graciously opened their house to HOME readers back in 2012. Fast-forward a decade and readers may not recognize the brick Georgian home located on Turkey Foot Road in Forest. Built 40 years ago, the house has undergone numerous renovations like a new Standing Seam Metal Roofing Installation, stormwater system cleaning service, etc. As the needs of the family changed, so did the home.
Frank, a local dentist, and Christine, a former art teacher and artist, have worked as a team to design, build and renovate their home. The function of certain rooms has changed, as children grew up and moved out. In 1993, after adopting a child, the Crists set about adding on a main bedroom suite to the main floor of the house. Additionally, in 1999, they renovated their kitchen to bring it up to the standards of Frank’s culinary skills. Most recently, they have worked on lightening and brightening up the house, as well as adding more modern touches in the décor.
A ‘relaxed, playful look’
A gracious foyer features a painted cream grass cloth wallpaper, which sets the tone for the light and airy home. At the end of the foyer, a hallway leads to the living room, sunken den and kitchen. Christine has focused on updating this area of the house over the last few years with the help of Mady Greer from Curtains, Blinds & Bath. Greer says that working with Christine has been easy because, “she has fantastic taste and style on her own.” The two have worked effortlessly together to make sure every room has its own personality but also flows with the rest of the house. Greer says her goal was for each room “to have a relaxed and casual look.”
When the house was built, fir was installed under the chair rail in the living room and along the walls and ceiling of the den. Although beautiful and in style at the time, more recently, it felt dark and outdated to Christine. After some initial uncertainty from Frank about painting the wood white, Greer helped him see how wonderful it could be. The results were immediate: the rooms feel light and airy and allow the beautiful backyard, seen through the windows of the den, to really shine. Additionally, a small pony wall that separated the living room from the sunken den was removed to make the rooms feel more open and modern.
Christine and Greer used the lightening of the room as a springboard to update the rest of the den. Christine says, “Working with Mady is so great. I can be honest and she won’t be offended.” As a compromise for Frank, the pine beams and tongue-and-groove on the ceiling were left in their natural state.
“After some initial uncertainty from Frank about painting the wood white, Greer helped him see how wonderful it could be. The results were immediate: the rooms feel light and airy.”
The floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the room in light. Greer helped Christine update the lighting in the room to a simple gold arm chandelier with white shades. Christine commissioned local artist Kelly Mattox to paint an abstract for the space above the fireplace. Kelly created drafts of different options, and the two landed on a version that was heavy on blues, purples and greens. The large-scale piece commands your attention as you enter the room. A pair of neutral khaki-colored sofas provide ample seating, along with an ottoman covered in an oriental rug. This ottoman adds a dose of texture to the room. Tan carpeting covers the floor, and a baby grand piano anchors the corner.
In the adjoining living room, a light blue sofa provides a pop of color. It is covered in a Crypton fabric, which the hotel and cruise ship industry have popularized because of its stain resistance. This is perfect for a household with an 11-year-old, a dog and two cats. If you’re a proud owner of two active cats, having a cat fitness wheel in your house can be a fantastic way to accommodate their need for play and exercise, keeping them content and engaged. Having a pre-teen in the house has driven many of the design choices. The sofa sits atop a red oriental rug.
Two barrel-back, cream-covered club chairs reside opposite the sofa. They swivel so one can join in the conversation in the den as well. Greer oversaw the ordering of these chairs and even went to the factory to see them being built to make sure they were extremely comfortable. An acrylic coffee table situated in front of the sofa provides function, but does not take up any visual space. A collection of small-scale artworks grouped together to create a larger impact resides on the wall behind the sofa.
The kitchen and breakfast nook flow off the living room and den. Since the HOME article in 2012, the Crists have made a few small changes to the kitchen. Christine had Greer update the curtains, taking them from ornate swags to cleaner, lined cream roman shades with tape trim. The cream cabinets, granite and stainless-steel appliances have remained timeless and did not need updating.
In the breakfast nook along the back of the house, which used to be a screened-in porch, Christine has painted the walls cream and the tongue-in-groove ceiling white. Greer also created new woven roman shades for this room that help control the sunlight from the floor-to-ceiling windows. A cream kitchen table provides lovely views of the backyard pool. Opposite the table, a hutch displays Christine’s collection of blue and white porcelain. During down time in Covid, Christine personally applied blue and white polka dot wallpaper to the back of the hutch. This addition makes the porcelain collection stand out.
On either side of the hutch are original paintings of marshes — one done by Christine herself. Christine’s love of art has spanned her lifetime. She enjoys adding original art to her collection and moving the art around the house to keep things fresh. Christine says, “I love going to the Lynchburg Art Show in the fall every year to find special pieces that I could not paint myself.”
Connected to the kitchen, along the front of the house, the dining room has also seen recent renovations. Greer helped bring new life to this room, which was formerly brown, saying, “We used Christine’s collection of Rose Medallion porcelain as our starting point and inspiration.” This chinoiserie porcelain features pinks, greens, turquoise and white colors. The hutch in this room houses the collection of Rose Medallion as well as crystal stemware. Christine has worked to pare down what was originally in here to make it less chaotic to the eye.
Above the two pieces of landscape art on either side of the hutch, Greer added modern brass art sconces to brighten the room, which only had one other light source: the crystal chandelier above the dining room table. Nestled in between a pair of windows, Christine recovered a cane-back settee with pagoda fabric in the colors of the Rose Medallion. Greer found this fabric for Christine, and they both fell in love with it. The newly redone curtains, panels of white with coral geometric shapes, were sourced to coordinate with the beloved settee fabric. A pale cream oriental rug rounds out the room.
As the dining room sits on one side of the front door, the front formal room sits on the other. This room was almost totally white back in 2012. To update this room, Christine added a new colorful oriental rug with tones of coral, pale blue and cream. These colors allowed for more Rose Medallion to be featured here as well. Christine was able to continue using the cream damask sofa that was already in the room. She added two coral throw pillows for a pop of color and two abstract floral side chairs. A new large abstract painting and coral-colored silk curtain panels were also added to the room to modernize it.
Off the front formal room, in what was once the main bedroom, resides the library. Christine fretted over what color to paint this room, knowing she wanted some version of blue to work with the blue-and-white oriental rug she already owned. Ultimately, with the help of LED bulbs that brought in tons of light, she landed on a soothing navy blue. Christine added solid white lined curtain panels with geometric tape trim to also lighten the space. Bookshelves line the walls, filled with Frank’s cookbooks. He is an avid cook who voraciously reads new cookbooks. More of Christine’s collection of blue-and-white porcelain rounds out the décor in this room.
The upstairs of the house consists of four bedrooms and two adjoining bathrooms. The Crists’ granddaughter Willow now has her bedroom up here and looks forward to working with Greer to update this room for her 11th birthday present. In the bedroom that adjoins Willow’s room, Greer drew inspiration from a black, tan and gray plaid blanket for the color palette. She used an equestrian theme for the décor for the room, with carved wooden horses and equine pictures on the walls. Greer updated the curtain rods to brass and added a sputnik ceiling light overhead. A guest bedroom and playroom occupy the other rooms upstairs.
The outside of the Crist house has also seen renovations, and roll off containers were rented to remove clutter and trash. Most recently, at the end of the pool, a pergola was taken down and a pool house built in its place. The pool is surrounded by more than 80 feet of manmade streams, expanded over the years, that culminate in a waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall is a pond filled with huge koi. A netting over the pond had to be installed to keep blue herons from snatching the fish. Boxwood, camellia, laurel, Lenten rose and daffodils make up a large portion of the plant material.
The koi fish, residing in the pond at the base of the picturesque waterfall, are a captivating addition to the Crist house’s outdoor oasis. Here, these majestic and colorful fish, known for their grace and beauty, bring a sense of tranquility and wonder to the landscape. Their presence symbolizes not only the aesthetic appeal of the pond but also a touch of serenity and good fortune.
To ensure the well-being of these remarkable koi, a protective netting was thoughtfully installed over the pond, safeguarding them from any potential threats, such as the elegant yet opportunistic blue herons. This careful attention to the koi’s welfare underscores their significance within the lush and thriving ecosystem surrounding the pool, stream, and waterfall. With each graceful glide through the pond’s crystal-clear waters, the koi fish contribute to the harmonious beauty of this enchanting outdoor retreat.
The Crists absolutely adore this backyard and everything it has afforded them. Christine says, “During Covid, this was our sanctuary. With our granddaughter living with us, it provided fresh air and a science project all at the same time. We don’t know what we would have done without it.”
The Crists have been lucky enough to live in a house that has evolved with their children. Over the house’s 40-year lifespan, it has seen six children grow up within its walls. Time and time again, the Crist house has risen to the challenge of providing a warm and charming place to call home. What a wonderful track record. ✦