One family’s redesign calls for a cheery ‘Oh!’
When one hopeful homeowner took his children to see a house coming up for bid in a sheriff’s sale, the initial on the gate matched the family’s own last name, making the property feel like home right away.
For his wife, the whole process of buying their English manor in Oklahoma City felt like it was meant to be from the beginning; even before she viewed the listing’s photos, its description had all the characteristics she and her husband were seeking.
“The first time I saw it, … it was snowing, and it was like this fairytale,” she said as she described driving up the long driveway in a wooded area and then finding a house that was exactly what they needed. “It really did look like a house you would see in Narnia. It was very ‘storybook’ when you pulled up. There were ducks everywhere.”
Today, the couple and their young children live on the multi-acre property with chickens, two cows, bunnies, two Great Pyrenees and their little house dog, a miniature Australian Labradoodle. A pet turtle now lives in the pond on the property, after its large tank cracked and “exploded,” as the wife put it, in the boys’ bedroom in the middle of the night.
Working with designer Sara Kate Little, founder of Pastiche Studios, the homeowners leaned into the English style of the residence for its design, with a focus on turning the home into a modern-day haven for their family and friends.
“It’s a beautiful manor-style home surrounded by ponds. When you pull in through the gate, you’re completely transported to another place,” Little said. “It’s just so idyllic.”
For Little, the project was also meant to be — “a dream job and dream clients” who were very thoughtful about how they wanted to live. Little already had an interest in British design, has traveled to England for home items and inspiration and has taken part in a workshop with prominent London interior designer Rita Konig.
“It was just very kismet,” Little said. “Our goals were very aligned. And I felt really strongly that I had a lot of really interesting sources and ideas to put into the project.”
The project turned into a much bigger one than the homeowners originally intended because some areas in the home needed to be gutted. They contacted the original architect, Brent Gibson, who helped with the redesign and updated a few areas. Matteson Custom Homes handled the renovation.
The outside got the same British design focus thanks to the work of landscape architect Laurie Keffer, who had lived in Europe and, like Little, understood the couple’s English-inspired vision for the whole property. That includes a pool, volleyball court, spaces for their animals, gardens and a charming wellhouse — ready to inspire imagination and play for people all ages. Nelson Landscaping installed the outdoor landscaping based on Keffer’s design. And it’s easy to see the outdoor beauty from any of the home’s many windows that let in so much natural lighting.
Little said the homeowners’ furnishings include a mix of new and antique items, and they are sourced “almost exclusively” from the United Kingdom. The British details are found throughout — whether in the paint colors from the British paint companies Farrows & Ball or Papers and Paints or the antique “bus reels” hanging as art two stories tall. These bus reels, featuring the names of English locations, once were rolled up and placed into signs on the bus, so they could flip to let travelers know the location of their next stop.
Special attention was given to the cocktail bar; designed as if it were a library to reflect the husband’s cocktail creations and the depth of his interest in this hobby. In the separate two-story dining room, the elegant and warm feel comes in part from a mirror behind lattice woodwork.
“From start to finish, the level of detail that’s put into the project by everyone who was involved is pretty impressive,” Little said.
The wife said that all along, she wanted the home to have a timeless feel while also being light and bright, with lots of sunshine and color that would make her smile every day. Today, it’s a place where they pray and play and cook and entertain family and friends in all the spaces, indoors and out.
“I just wanted the house to breathe life,” she said. “We feel like we can actually live here. We get to enjoy the beautiful space that is livable. So she was really able to marry the two worlds.”