A mother-daughter trip to newly opened Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas, in 2015 gave designer Shayla Graham a new life direction, and inspired her parents’ modern farmhouse home in Shawnee that she worked with them to design seven years later.
At the time of her trip to Waco with her mom, Graham had long loved home decorating and had helped her friends with their homes, but she had never considered it as a full-time career. She had been a hairstylist, had recently earned her real estate license and had just bought a home with a friend with the intention of remodeling and flipping it.
“I came home from that trip with a completely different mindset — like this is what I had to do with my life,” Graham said. “And I loved it.”
She and her friend finished the home flip project, and her inventory of home items grew as she moved on to other projects. She opened a weekend pop-up store, and that led to her first home decorating job and a brick-and-mortar store in Shawnee called Homegrown, which she opened full-time in 2018. Though that store closed after two years during the pandemic, she hosts a big Homegrown sale every quarter. She’s still designing homes.
So in 2022 Graham was a natural choice as designer for her parents, Michelle and Charles Wolfe, when they chose to move from the country and build their home on a one-acre lot in Shawnee. Today, the 3,400-square-foot modern farmhouse has three bedrooms and 3.5 baths.
The home’s central feature is the showpiece kitchen that the Magnolia trip from years ago inspired. It includes the rock stone backsplash that the Wolfes and Graham ended up installing themselves.
“That was my mom’s only request: She wanted a Gristmill kitchen,” Graham said, referring to the kitchen featured on Joanna Gaines’ cooking show that was filmed in an old grist mill and had an old rock wall in the background.
That request turned complicated when they couldn’t find a bricklayer willing to commit to the difficult rock wall backsplash. The third or fourth one the Wolfes and Graham interviewed agreed to do it, went out for lunch … and never came back.
“So that night, we decided we were going to do it ourselves,” Graham said. She and her husband and her parents watched YouTube videos and finished the project over the weekend. “We knew the look that we wanted.”
The home features abundant natural light, natural colors and materials and a mix of old and new items. Some features were designed to surprise, such as a set of antique doors that now invite visitors into the Wolfes’ dining room.
“It’s amazing what she does with it,”’ Charles Wolfe said about his daughter. “I just saw an old pair of doors. And then the next thing I see they’re hanging up and I think, ‘Well, they look pretty nice.’”
Added Michelle Wolfe, smiling, “We have to tell him he doesn’t see the vision. He has to wait until it’s all done.”
Charles Wolfe appreciates the care his daughter took to tailor the house to their own tastes, he said, citing his bathroom as a prime example.
The light fixture Graham picked for that room turned out to be the same one he remembered from the Shawnee Fire Department, where he worked for 22 years.
“I think the most fun and most rewarding thing for me is the attention that she put into matching it to us,” Charles Wolfe said. In this bathroom “are things that are kind of special to me.”
The stunning shower features natural slate tiles, which bricklayers also were hesitant to build with because no two are the same size and they don’t lay flat. But Graham was insistent, and the tiles add lots of texture and character to the completed space.
“We stuck to it because I knew how it would be in the end. I wanted it to be very natural. It’s all one of our favorites,” Graham said.
Prior to moving into Shawnee, the Wolfes had lived on six acres in Meeker during their 24 years of marriage. Between the two of them, they had five children, now grown; it was time for them to move into a more manageable space. Having retired from firefighting, Charles Wolfe works in the safety field. Michelle Wolfe has been a homemaker and helped her daughter in her work; she now helps care for her six grandchildren between the ages of 1 ½ and 9.
Jared Steele of Shawnee served as the home’s contractor, with Graham serving as project manager. Michelle Wolfe said her favorite part of the project was getting to work with her daughter.
“This is my dream home, really,” she said.
Charles Wolfe said he loved watching his daughter do what she loves to do.
“It’s just amazing. It was very rewarding to watch her work ethic, to watch her drive to watch her vision, at the same time she’s chasing her dream. But it was also amazing to me how she could achieve what she did on a budget,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine going through this without her.”