Samford Legacy League’s 10th Annual Christmas Home Tour is set to be held Dec 10.
The event during its tenure has raised more than $250,000 to provide transformational scholarships for students who have faced monumental challenges, including homelessness, inner city violence, the disability or death of a parent or sibling, foster care, parental job loss, abandonment, parental incarceration and the sacrifices of full-time ministry, according to a press release from the Legacy League.
“By sharing the Hope of Christmas through the home tour, the community can be involved in this life-changing mission,” Julie Cundiff, chairwoman of the volunteer committee, said.
As with most events this year, the pandemic has changed the look of the tour. Masks covering nose and mouth are required. Each guest will have a temperature check and complete a symptom checklist before entry. Tour guests are expected to adhere to social distancing guidelines and to start the tour at the home and time selected during ticket purchase.
Six Houses are included in this year’s tour, according to information in the press release.
The Israel Home
The home of Linda and Charlie Israel, at 2300 Country Club Place in Mountain Brook, is tucked in a quiet cul-de-sac not far from the buzz of Mountain Brook Village. Relaxed and welcoming, the stone dwelling built by TCC General Contractors in 2018 has no formal spaces, which suits this family with five children and 10 grandchildren.
A wood-burning fireplace on the front porch offers a warm welcome to guests, who will also find a fireplace on the back porch, as well as in the living room and master bedroom. Stone accents and lime-washed pecky cypress add a slightly rustic hint to the house. The vaulted ceilings and skylight, along with the seamless transitions from inside to outside, give the home a spacious, airy feeling.
Chamfered openings add an elegant touch while functionally dividing the living space from the kitchen.
Upstairs, guests will find two bedrooms, a den affectionately called C’s Clubhouse and a rooftop porch. With autumn’s bared trees comes a lengthened vista which feels, Linda said, “like open spaces, miles from city life.”
The Kreps Home
With a view of their beloved Samford, the home of Carrie and Joseph Kreps at 1524 Woodridge Place is the fulfillment of two college sweethearts’ dreams. Carrie recalls when she and Joseph drove through the neighborhood.
“We realized we could see Samford and decided that one day we would live here.” Several years of marriage and two children later, the Kreps moved to their Woodridge home, which they have since renovated extensively.
First, came the kitchen, which now is open. Then a master bath remodel escalated into the remodeling of four bathrooms, all with new marble, vanities, fixtures and glass shower doors. A small, dark master bath shower became spacious, bright and open. The installation of electrical outlets in the vanity drawers reduced countertop clutter, a design trick worth emulating.
Carrie selected a neutral decorating scheme with pops of color to create a serene environment throughout the home, which she describes as “French inspired and a bit eclectic.”
Two trees are displayed in the home, one dressy and one bedecked with family keepsakes made by the Kreps boys, Carrie and her maternal grandmother. A collection of carolers, started by Carrie’s mom, adds joy to the festive home. The backyard oasis, created by the previous owners, includes an outdoor fireplace and a pond and rock waterfall.
The Lawton Home
Like the Kreps, Anne and George Lawton met at Samford, never considering where a group project may lead. A somewhat accidental first date and a surprise birthday visit laid the foundation for their relationship, which later blossomed into marriage, a family and a real estate business.
The Lawton family moved into their 1504 Buckhead Trail home five years ago, seeking room for entertaining, two home offices and visits from parents.
“Gathering friends together is an important part of life in the Lawton home,” explained Anne.
The Lawtons’ spacious kitchen features an enormous wooden island, perfect for Anne and daughter Caroline’s annual mother-daughter cookie swaps. Tour visitors to the Lawtons’ home will find several gingerbread creations displayed along with George’s nutcrackers, a collection started by his mom with each representing a hobby, interest or event from his life that year.
In addition to holiday décor, tour guests will see the Lawtons’ grandfather clock, which formerly stood in the room where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. Another special piece is a painting by local artist Gina Hurry, who they commissioned to tell the story of their infertility journey. The painting’s three butterflies represent their children, Caroline, Robert and William.
A Southbend House Built by Taylor Burton Company
Just down the street from the Lawtons’ Buckhead home is Southbend, Vestavia Hill’s newest community. A house at 3320 South Bend Circle, newly constructed by Taylor Burton Company, also is part of the tour.
With timeless streetscapes and modern floor plans, the area’s homes focus on a leisurely, low-maintenance lifestyle. The tour house, a brand-new modern-day farmhouse, is packed with amenities. With dark painted custom doors, high ceilings and custom crown molding, this Taylor Burton Company dwelling is warm and inviting.
A large open kitchen features a large quartz-topped island, surround sound speakers, soft close cabinets and an apron front semi-divided farm sink.
On the main level is the master bedroom suite, a family room, dining room, laundry room, mud room, powder bath and two-car garage. Outside is a covered patio area with stained concrete floor, an outdoor gas fireplace and TV connection. A stairway with a cozy reading nook leads up to three well-appointed bedrooms, a large open room, two bathrooms with custom tile, and both walk-in and pull-down attic storage.
The Welden Home
The Beth and Bill Welden home, at 2308 Country Club Place in Mountain Brook, welcomes visitors through the wrought iron gate of the covered porch. Moving forward is a square pool, flanked by white lawn chairs and crisp black and white striped umbrellas. A large white stone fireplace lies ready to take the chill off a crisp day. With heavy white drapes on one open side and floor-to-ceiling shuttered windows on the other, the room is easily opened to fresh air or closed for coziness. This flexibility continues into the main living area, where a wall of tall glass doors can be opened to bring the outside in.
“And that,” said Beth, “was the goal – to live indoors and outdoors as much as possible.”
Reminiscent of English homes in the Cotswalds, the Weldens’ stone home is painted white, inside and out. With exposed painted beams on the ceiling and floors of wide-planked oak reclaimed from Kentucky, the home features cabinetry of waxed, quarter-sawn white oak.
“This house has the feel that you’ve gone on vacation; it creates magnetism that won’t let you go,” described the builder, Philip Woods.
The open kitchen and butler’s pantry provide lots of space for family and friends. The home’s furnishings are a mix of antique and contemporary, including two pieces hewn from bleached roots and a large birdcage dining table. In keeping with the calming surroundings, the Weldens’ chose a simple Christmas motif of white lights and greenery.
Samford President’s Home
The 10th year of the tour is also the final year of the tour for Jeanna and Andy Westmoreland, Samford University’s first lady and president, who will be retiring in June. They have been the first Samford leaders to occupy the current president’s home, at 1994 Shades Crest Road in Vestavia Hills, and have welcomed tens of thousands of visitors inside, including Miss America and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
With elegant furnishings, lush landscaping and a panoramic view of Birmingham and Samford’s campus, the home is lovely throughout the year, but never as noteworthy as during the holiday season. Yards of garland and twinkling lights embellish the bannisters and mantles, and every room is draped in holiday decor. Numerous thematically decorated trees fill the rooms.
Other notable decorations include the Westmorelands’ collection of nativities, procured on their many international trips; their Chrismas tree, ornamented with gold and white symbols of the Christian faith; and a company of nutcrackers, ranging from a few inches to a few feet tall.
Visitors to the home also will be entertained with live holiday music during the tour and receive a special take-home box of Christmas treats at the end.
ARC Realty is presenting sponsor of this year’s tour, and premium sponsors are AllSouth Appliance, Community Bank, Southbend and TCC General Contractors.
Tickets must be purchased in advance at samford.edu/legacyleague. Prices are $30 per ticket until Dec. 1, then $35 through Dec. 8. There will be no ticket sales at the door. Homes will be open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Article submitted by Sharon Smith, director of development, Samford University Legacy League.