Home Tour – Balancing Beauty and Function
Story by Rebekah Hall | Apr 26, 2018
Photography by Gil Long
The Long family carves out their corner in the community.
Gil and Jessica Long built their house at the end of a long street — it’s the last house on the right. Their home in the Grande Highland Estates neighborhood is nestled into a cul-de-sac, the exterior a mix of stone, brick, and cedar-planked siding. The subtle gray and blue hues are welcoming and warm, and their deep front porch invites conversation and company.
Inside, the Longs have created a bright, airy space that reflects their busy lifestyle and serves their growing family. Gil, Jessica, and their children, Liam, age 8, and Evie, age 6, grew out of their former home once the kids (and their toys) started getting bigger.
The couple, along with their friend and real estate agent Beth McGeorge, sold their home after only six days on the market. Construction of their new house began in October of 2016, and the family moved into the home in April of 2017. Their home was built for them by Jessica’s uncle, Greg Schulte, of Schulte Construction, as was their previous house.
Their first home is still dear to the family, and Jessica says that moving out was a bittersweet experience.
“The last night we were in our house, we had a slumber party,” says Jessica. “There was no furniture in our house, so we pulled the mattresses out onto the floor in the living room, ordered pizza, and watched a movie. All of us cried.”
Jessica says that there’s been an adjustment period in the new home, but they’re warming up well to the new space.
“If you asked my son, he would remember every little detail of that night because that was his home,” Jessica says. “But now, the dust has settled, and we’re really starting to feel like we made the right decision.”
Gil and Jessica sought to strike a balance between beauty and function in their new home. Their former home had small bedrooms and a kitchen that was closed off from the living space.
In their new house, they knew they wanted bigger bedrooms, an open-concept floor plan, and a big, flat lot.
A beautiful barreled wood ceiling marks the home’s entryway, continuing from the porch threshold into the foyer. The dining room to the right looks out onto the green front lawn, a lawn that Jessica and Gil landscaped themselves. (They also did all of the landscaping for their previous home themselves.)
“If I could be a master gardener, I would,” says Jessica, laughing. “We take pride in that — just being able to open up all the windows and smell the spring air.”
Each of the children has their own room off the main living area, across the house from the master suite. This was a choice the couple made with the future in mind.
“We wanted a setup where the kids are close, but they also have a separate space,” says Jessica. “We like the split floor plan because the teenage years are coming, and the kids have their own nook.”
The children also share a bathroom between their two bedrooms. Adjacent to the children’s bedrooms is the main living area, complete with a coffered ceiling that adds texture and awe to the sunny space. Double French doors off of the living room open to a large deck that looks over the lush trees and greenery behind the home.
The home also features a walk-out basement that the couple will finish themselves. They also hope to eventually add a pool in the backyard.
Back inside, the gleaming custom kitchen overlooks the living area. This open-concept layout allows for the family to lounge, cook, and interact in the same space. The kitchen island is the space’s central hub.
“We eat around it, we cook around it, and when I make the kids breakfast, they can sit at the bar and talk to us while we’re cooking,” says Jessica. “This is our favorite space to relax.”
Behind the kitchen is the couple’s master suite. The large bedroom has a tray ceiling that Jessica tucked a remote-controlled rope light into, creating a movie-theater atmosphere for the family’s movie nights and slumber parties.
The bright, spa-like master bathroom features a large walk-in shower with bench seating, as well as a double vanity and deep soaking tub.
The bathroom leads into the master closet, a large space with custom shelving done by Jessica’s uncle. A pocket door then separates the closet from the family’s laundry room off the garage. The laundry room has a storage unit with cubbies and hooks for the kids to drop off their stuff before entering the home.
This connecting layout was a deliberate effort to make their new space function for their needs.
“We needed it for the laundry — we just wanted that flow,” says Jessica. “We can go straight from the mudroom into the laundry, into the closet, then the bathroom and the bedroom. Sometimes the kids like to run laps.”
The couple kept their family’s needs in mind while planning the layout of the home. They also wanted to keep their children involved with the building process so they would feel more connected to the finished home. During construction, they brought the kids over to help mow the lawn, pick out paint colors and fixtures, and help with other choices and projects in the home. Jessica says this was helpful for getting the kids adjusted to the new home.
“Now that they see how it feels here since we made it our own and didn’t just buy a house, they love it,” says Jessica. “They got to see the process step by step, and now they’ll have that memory. And they’ll feel more like this is their home when they leave and come back, and they’ll tell their kids about it. That’s my hope.”
The Longs are present in every inch of the home they’ve built. The close-knit family now has a space that is both deeply personal and driven by connection — a home that will continue to bring people together for years to come.