Touring a classic home with conventional updates.
Often nestled within quiet neighborhoods and flanked by sidewalks and mature trees, older and historic homes house stories of past residents and give a glimpse into a life most Americans don’t get to experience outside of moments spent daydreaming on Zillow. When it comes to buildings that have stood the test of time, onlookers can’t help but wonder what’s inside.
Sitting on the crest of a hill, just a mile south of downtown Jefferson City, a spacious home built in 1915 has held its own intrigue amongst locals. The home was designed by Miller & Miller, architects in prairie-style home design, which was made popular by Frank Lloyd Wright. This style is characterized by emphasizing the horizontal rather than the vertical. These houses were designed to spread out over their lots and feature flat or low-hipped roof lines, rows of windows, overhanging eaves, and bands of stone, wood, or brick.
According to its blueprints, the home was originally owned by Dr. A. W. Happy. His name is a serendipitous consequence, given the joy and gratitude the current homeowners feel while living here. In February of 2019, two Jefferson City lifers and their four children became the fifth residents of the property.
“The home has been here 110 years, and it’s going to be here well after it’s our turn to live in it…”Homeowner
Before their current residence, the homeowners grew up in and owned two older houses in Jefferson City. As they were looking for something larger for their family, they bonded with this home’s charm. Not only is this home located within a communal neighborhood that is pedestrian friendly, it is also close enough to downtown that the homeowners get a faint view of the Capitol from their front yard.
While houses built in the early 1900s offer a mystique that newer constructions are pressed to match, there is only so much charm that can overshadow the practicalities of modern life. Shortly after moving in, the homeowners looked to update the home to fit their modern family lifestyle. However, they were still mindful to maintain the home’s integrity during renovations. Although they wanted to make the home their own, they recognized they would not be its final residents.
“One thing we tell our kids is that the home has been here for 110 years, and it’s going to be here well after it’s our turn to live in it,” shared one homeowner. “This is just our turn to have and love this space; we have to be good stewards of it.”
Renovations included removing a few walls to make the home more open. The most significant change was in the kitchen, which, while entirely gutted, maintains its footprint, skylights, and large windows. Additionally, the homeowners renovated two second-floor bathrooms and reconfigured two closets in the back of the home into a bathroom.
“The kitchen was a beautiful footprint and addition to a century-old home,” the homeowner says. “But, the old kitchen and the room next to it were both fairly small and lacked natural light. So, we took out two walls to make one bigger room, which made it a better fit for our family to gather.”
The mural on the back of the house may be the homeowners’ favorite addition. In designing the renovations, the homeowners were stumped by three large white squares on the back of their house. They realized they couldn’t place three large windows where a new bathroom would be, both for practical and cost reasons, so they turned to art. During the summer of 2023, the homeowners commissioned local artist Adrienne Luther to create a mural featuring a whimsical interpretation of native flowers in bright, poppy colors.
“We saw everything blooming and becoming green with it,” the homeowners say. “So, we’re very excited to watch it through the seasons. In the winter, when we don’t have as much color, it’ll be a nice bright pop of happiness as we come home. It was so fun to watch her do it, too. To paint on this stucco wall is such a leap of faith, and she just went for it and nailed it.”
The mural also echoes the cheerful and colorful art featured throughout the home’s interior. The couple’s playful collection, composed of art from travels, pieces made by artistic friends, and gifts, is juxtaposed with warm, modern furnishings and the home’s historical features. Arched doorways, rich wood floors and banisters, vintage radiators, and some of the home’s original windows and light fixtures are brightened by the vibrant art.
Each piece adds a splash of personality and sparks cheerful conversations with company. While their art collection may look cohesive, it was not entirely intentional. The collection began with a joyful piece that pictures women dancing, which now resides in the living space off the kitchen. The piece was purchased during a trip to New Orleans. As the homeowners passed by a gallery, they had such an instant connection with the energy of the art in the window that they had to take it home.
“…This is just our turn to have and love this space; we have to be good stewards of it.”Homeowner
The homeowners do not identify as art collectors. They simply enjoy pieces that speak to them in a welcoming way. In the same way, they want their home to feel welcoming to all who enter.
“We hope when people come into our home, they feel the love and joy of our family and know they are welcome and comfortable here,” the homeowners say.