First impressions are important. Just ask Nicole and Dean Waite. Funny enough, their love story began with a 2001 issue of Mobile Bay Magazine. Dean had graced the cover of April’s popular “Hot Neighborhoods Real Estate Guide, ” sporting khakis and a polo, while raking leaves in the front yard of a home in a new real estate development. Nicole, a twentysomething who had recently returned to her hometown, was intrigued by the handsome, young attorney. Fast forward 11 years to 2012, and the happily married couple, along with their then 3-year-old son, Dean, was ready to build their dream home. As they were discussing ideas and coming up with plans, Nicole heard about a gorgeous recently renovated Cape Cod manor for sale in the heart of Spring Hill. Just for research sake, they decided to check it out.
When they strolled up the winding cobblestone drive, through the stately front portico and into the sunny foyer, Nicole was immediately smitten. “I told big Dean, ‘This is the house we should build.’” Even the stairwell runner was exactly as she’d imagined. “So we decided it only made sense to buy it.”
As a bonus, the Waites were able to work with the same interior designer that the previous homeowner, Dr. Regina Gilliland, had used throughout the extensive renovation process. Angela Grady already knew how to highlight the spaces’ best features and make them work for the new owners. For what she calls “phase two” of the project, Grady chose furnishings and accessories that reflected the Waites’ modern elegance aesthetic.
Crisp, cotton-colored walls, bleached white wood floors and ivory furniture upholstery serve as blank canvases, allowing the couple’s treasured art collection, animal skin rugs and bold, orange pillows, to shine. Antique armoires from Atchison Home, as well as antlers and African wild game mounts blend seamlessly in the contemporary, sophisticated mix. Even little Dean’s playroom, showcasing charcoal chalkboard walls and mini midcentury modern furniture, reflects the Waites’ chic, refined style in a playful way.
While the interior was simply enhanced with beautiful décor and bric-a-brac, outside, the landscaping received an intensive overhaul, with the addition of oodles of lush new greenery and pops of purple perennials to compliment the gray-shingled exterior.
Now, one year after they signed on the dotted line, the Waites couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. It’s the home of their dreams, with a freshly raked lawn — and a brand new copy of Mobile Bay Magazine in the mailbox, featuring their beloved place on the cover.
ABOVE Nicole and the two Deans spend the majority of their time in the open concept kitchen and family room. Light streams through windows, fitted with white matchstick shades, on three walls. A chic, stainless steel arc floor lamp is paired with a tangerine Oriental rug from Plantation Antiques.
ABOVE Builder Randy Broadway created the upscale, modern kitchen, which features marble countertops and stainless appliances. Sleek fans, from Fine Line Design, add to the industrial feel. Nicole is an avid cook, which she gets honestly, since her Wisconsin native grandmother was a big baker, while her Louisiana grandmother was an ace at preparing seafood.
ABOVE In the formal living room, a majestic hearth, with flanking built-in shelving, is a regal focal point. Above the mantel, a Brent Smith original commands attention. It is one of the family’s favorite art pieces in their collection, which also features abstracts and linear pencil drawings from local and regional artists. Smith also created the chocolate brown, faux-leather paint treatment on the shelf backs. The contrast allows the Waites’ white accessories to really stand out. The parlor also provides the ideal flow for entertaining, as the dining room is located just through the left doorway, the butler’s pantry through the middle and the screened porch through the right.
ABOVE The stairwell’s Oriental runner was one of the house’s biggest draws for Nicole.
ABOVE LEFT Throughout the home, antique armoires live alongside zebra and animal hide rugs.
ABOVE RIGHT A pair of armchairs and a midcentury modern end table make the cheery bay window nook a comfy spot for brunch.
ABOVE Little Dean, now 5, enjoys spending time in his cozy upstairs playroom, which features an ultra-cool canvas tent karaoke “den, ” a chalkboard wall and super-plush sheepskin beanbags, just right for an active little boy. It’s also a favorite hangout for neighborhood kids.
ABOVE LEFT The screened back porch is another favorite area for entertaining. The gray stone floors tie the alfresco room to the exterior aesthetic. A repurposed metal table is an eclectic addition, and white acrylic chairs are practical for an exposed space.
ABOVE RIGHT Just outside the porch’s double doors, local landscaping firm GDSI created eyecatching flower beds.
text by Lawren Largue • photos by Todd Douglas