Thomas’ Custom Southern Charmer

published Apr 1, 2011
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Name: Thomas
Location: Virginia
Size: 11,000 square feet
Years lived in: 56 — owned

When Thomas first started planning his home, he brought his high sense of standards and strong opinions to the project. Not content to hand it over to others to complete, he believed one’s home should ultimately represent individual sensibilities. This meant that nothing was too small to be involved with – from the overall architecture, down to the smallest interior detail.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

While not formally trained, Tom learned about the process and various styles from books and close observation of others’ work, and constantly jotted down notes and his own thoughts. As a result, and over time, the house was continuously modified based on new ideas that came to him. It took many years to complete. Despite several false starts, and a long depression after losing his wife, Thomas stuck with it and considered the home’s finish very much a part of his life’s work.

The house is a direct result of improvisation. It became a laboratory of sorts, and a way to reflect Tom’s personal theories on how to live. One of his many beliefs is the need to carve out a quiet space in which to work. His study, located adjacent to his bedroom, is filled with items that either inspire him or that he created. Another tenet values bringing the outdoors in as much as possible. You’ll see that the entry way floor is painted green, referencing grass. Lastly, energy efficiency was utmost in Tom’s mind, and he sought ways to take advantage of natural resources through air flow and thoughtfully placed windows and skylights.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I like to think I have my own style, but it’s definitely influenced by the French.

Inspiration: Space, light and time.

Favorite Element: I am particularly fond of my open-ended alcove bed! On one side is my office, and the other is my “dressing room”, which is most convenient. Also, I love how the french doors and skylights everywhere use natural light during the daylight hours. Each of these elements are extremely functional and efficient (and clever if I do say so myself).

Biggest Challenge: Making sure everything stands the test of time, and isn’t outdated in a few years.

What Friends Say: I’ve always been fond of the words, “That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archives of our experiences.”

Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen is nothing fancy, and I don’t spend a lot of time there, but it’s functional and turns out a fine dinner.

Proudest DIY: It is a toss up between my self-designed clock and the wine dumbwaiter built into the side of the fireplace of the dining room. I don’t even have to leave the room to get a new bottle. That means more time for my guests, and less time fumbling in the dark basement for the right vintage.

Biggest Indulgence: My vineyard and extensive gardens. And I cannot live without books.

Best Advice: Take liberties and be innovative. If you care about your home as much as I do, you’ll think up all sorts of new ways to make it your own. I was integrally involved with the design of this house, down to the curtains. Although it took me years to complete, I’m so pleased with the end result. I hope I die here.

Dream Sources: Anything from France.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • Taxidermy and various artifacts from Lewis and Clark
    • Maps are gifts from visitors or pieces I collected while traveling


    • Paint is called “Chrome Yellow”.
    • I don’t know who made the Rococo table, but I know it is English.


    • Bed was custom made just for me, based on something I saw first in France.
    • The paint on the walls is called “Oyster White” and was also custom made for the room.

Guest Bedroom

    • The trellis-patterned wallpaper was manufactured by F. Schumacher & Co. as part of their Colonial Williamsburg Collection.


    • I am lucky to have a lot of painters as friends. Most pieces were gifts from them and there are too many to mention.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Tom!

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