Photo by Amy J. Owen
The historic Summerville neighborhood is home to some of Augusta’s oldest and most stunning architecture, from Southern style farmhouses with wrap-around porches to quaint bungalow cottages, columned plantation homes, and Spanish colonial estates. The neighborhood boasts history — each home embodies characteristics, secrets, and stories (some forgotten and others remembered) from decades past.
One such home on Walton Way stands apart from the rest: a nearly 100-year-old two story brick Italian Renaissance-style villa with clay roof tiles and white trim. Built in 1926, the home was constructed and designed by Willis Irvin, a Washington, Ga., native who built upscale homes in Georgia and South Carolina from 1910 through the 1940s.
The residence has only been owned by four separate families, and was most recently purchased by newly-weds Morgan and Justin Bundy in April 2017. The Bundys new home served as the location for the inaugural Southern Designer Showhouse & Gardens, benefitting SafeHomes of Augusta and presented by Augusta Magazine.
The yard was completely overgrown when the Bundys toured the property with their Realtor, Grant Sutton. Despite the tall palm trees blocking street views and the dense, jungle-like backyard, they could envision the landscaping potential and fell in love with the original floor plan. The home itself was in pristine condition as previous owners, Ronnie and Nancy Bowers, had taken excellent care of the property they’d owned for years.
“We walked in and we could see from the dining room to the sunroom. It really caught our attention. It was so open,” said Morgan.
The 5,100 square-foot home proved to be the perfect compromise for Morgan and Justin. An Augusta native, Morgan wanted a traditional Southern home, but Justin, who hails from Albuquerque, N.M., was drawn to the Mediterranean look of the brick exterior and tiled roof.
“It was this mutual agreement,” said Morgan. “We had this fabulous yard and this really historical home, but it wasn’t a white columned Southern plantation-looking house. We both loved the look of the house.”
The Bundys made an offer and were soon immersed in plans for overhauling the yard and beginning renovations. The Bowers provided the Bundys with the original floor and landscaping drawings that served as a basis for the updated landscaping and construction.
The yard itself was a massive undertaking. Three cleanouts happened before anything could be renovated indoors. Entire trees and bushes were uprooted. Morgan and Justin were determined to maintain the integrity and characteristics of the original home. Despite its nearly 100 years, the architecture remained structurally sound but required major plumbing and electrical updates. Originally, the bathroom pipes were installed directly in the floors and concrete was poured on top. To re-do all of the bathrooms, old floors were demolished with jackhammers, so the decades-old piping could be taken out and new pipes installed in the walls.
“We knew it was going to be a big job,” said Morgan. “Every wall in this house is plaster, which is concrete and brick – not sheetrock. So everything was a little bit harder than expected.”
Aside from the plumbing and electrical work, the kitchen is the only room the Bundys opted to completely remodel and expand. The original laundry room off the kitchen was converted to a mudroom and a large upstairs closet (once a fur and a designer shoe closet) now houses the washer and dryer.
The updated kitchen is a home cook’s dream with a stainless steel, six-burner gas stove, and deep porcelain farmhouse sink. Brass hardware, marble countertops, high ceilings, large windows, and a stunning chandelier provide the perfect mix of sophistication with a touch of southern charm.
The rest of the updates, surprisingly, are purely cosmetic.
“Every wall was painted – there’s 27 different colors in the home,” said Morgan. “This includes ceilings and trim. The rooms are different colors. In some rooms the trim is the same color but with a different finish. You think it’s a lot, but when you look around I hope it’s not overkill because it really made a difference.”
With four bedrooms, four and half bathrooms, a library, kitchen and dining room, full bar and wine cellar, a large patio and sunroom, sweeping landscapes, pool, and tennis courts, Morgan had a lot to decorate and style on her own. The Bundys wanted to rent out their newly renovated home for The Masters, but by November 2017 were feeling a little overwhelmed with the amount of interior design that needed to take place before it would be ready. When Augusta Magazine contacted Morgan about the Southern Designer Showhouse & Gardens event, she knew it was perfect timing.
“I thought this is the answer to my prayers,” said Morgan. “I’m going to have all of these designers. I get to meet with them, they’ll work with me. And then the house will be decorated. It worked out the best way possible honestly.”
Morgan worked with six interior designers: Mariah Cable Interiors, Wesley Cadle, Inc., Brittany Cason Interior Design, Inc., Laurie McRae Interiors, Julie Taylor Interiors, and Elizabeth McGee with Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects. Designers were assigned rooms and Morgan met with each one individually on a weekly basis leading up to the Showhouse to talk ideas and make sure the house flowed cohesively.
“The designers were happy to do it because they weren’t left with the stuff [furniture and accents] afterwards,” explained Morgan. “With most of the designer showcase homes [the designers] come in, bring furniture, and then take it out afterwards. We met with our designers and if we okayed everything, they knew they weren’t going to have to sell it or get rid of it.”
The house itself does not have a specific theme. Instead, each designer came up with concepts for their assigned rooms that enhanced and modernized the existing walls, trim, floors, and original fireplaces.
“We wanted it to be spectacular, but livable,” said Morgan.
Even with six designers from different backgrounds with unique experiences and style preferences, the house came together in a magical way. For instance, the dining room (an ode to a traditional formal Southern dining room designed by Julie Taylor) is bright and airy with neutral tones and a pop of color from the chartreuse drapes. Hints of chartreuse found their way in other rooms as well, including the throw pillows in the library, and island kitchen stools. It’s through the little things that subtle themes emerged.
“[The designs] were all going in the same direction, which was good,” said Morgan. “It turned out how we had pictured it.”
Avid travelers, Morgan and Justin are accustomed to staying in hotels around the world and wanted their guest rooms to be welcoming, inviting, and individually unique. The bright colors and neutral accents continue in the upstairs bedrooms. Large windows welcome in light. The rooms are big but not overwhelmingly so.
Not only did the designers suggest themes and bring in furniture and accents, they also offered advice to make the best use of the space. Wesley Cadle suggested making the adjacent room to the master bedroom a sitting room instead of a third guest room.
“The idea [of the sitting room] was you could wake up, take a shower, have a cup of coffee, and watch T.V. so you don’t have to go all the way downstairs,” said Cadle who also recommended a coffee bar area to further complete the space.
A lot happened in the few weeks leading up to the first Southern Designer Showhouse & Gardens tour on March 1. Though the yard had been cleaned out months prior, it was still largely undeveloped. With the impending deadline, the crews moved quickly and demolished the remaining landscape down to the dirt and built it back up. The backyard was leveled out and eight loads of sod were brought in.
“It was like one cohesive sweep through the yard,” said Morgan. “In two weeks they all worked together and made this happen.”
The yard is nearly unrecognizable from a year ago. The pool is clean and inviting, the grass is a vibrant green, bushes are manicured, and the dogwoods are in full bloom. And perhaps most importantly, the home is no longer concealed from passing cars or pedestrians.
After a year of major renovations, hard work, and a series of Showhouse tours, the home is finally ready to be lived in. The Bundy’s updated home pays homage to the architects and designers of the past. Though furniture and bright wall colors modernize the space, there is no doubt of the original characteristics and solid design from an era when homes were always built to last.
Pick up the May 2018 issue of the Augusta Magazine to view exclusive photos and details of the
Designer Showhouse, on stands now!
Article appears in the May 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.