Photos by Anna Goodson
When Betsy and Jason Greener moved into their home in 2012, they set out to honor their family traditions while creating new spaces that would fit the lifestyle of their family of four. Sitting picture perfectly on a sprawling piece of Fondren property, the mid-century home has long been a part of the family’s history.
Built in 1949, the mid-century marvel was designed by Fort & White Architects and built by Ed Morgan. “The house originally sat on 14 acres which Jason’s grandfather Roger Wilson Stribling divided and sold in 1959, reserving five acres for their own home and garden,” says Betsy. The next 40 years would involve the Striblings making small updates here and there to their home. In 2001, Jason’s mother Sherry Stribling Greener moved into the family home, undertaking a full-scale remodel and renovation.
After the passing of Sherry, the Greeners decided to follow in the footsteps of family tradition, becoming the third generation to live in the home. “We determined that additional living space would ensure that the house would be a great fit for our family’s needs now with younger children, and would also take us comfortably into the future with teenagers and eventually grown children and their spouses,” explains Betsy.
“This home is special because the property has a ‘park-like’ feel with open, grassy areas, mature trees, and informal landscaping,” says Betsy. “Jason grew up playing in this yard, hiding in the rock garden, rolling down the hills and playing in the creek. We have loved getting to see our children and their friends doing the same things.”
The Greeners enlisted the help of architect John Weaver, who lives in a Fort & White designed home himself, and builder David Turner of Sustainable Construction. “John is extremely knowledgeable about both the architectural and the building aspects of this process and seems to have a great natural sense for what his client is looking to do,” says Betsy. “While he works in many different architectural styles, his own personal style is contemporary and mid-century modern, which made him a perfect fit for this project. We toured several homes that David built or renovated and were extremely impressed with their design, detail, and quality. He and his team know quality materials and workmanship and adhere to the highest standards for their clients.”
Together, John and David designed and built a two-story addition to the existing home, providing a kid’s wing complete with bedrooms, a playroom and a media room. The addition also includes an art studio/office for Betsy and plentiful storage space. “At the time of the renovation, the home had been basically a two bedroom home,” says John. “We needed to add more space, so we set out to make it meet their needs while maintaining the integrity of the original house.”
The addition included a “family entrance” of sorts. “We didn’t want, like you often see, for the family to enter through a utilitarian space,” says John. “We created this great entrance courtyard so even for those who live there, it feels inviting.”
David and John worked hard to keep the materials consistent with what was existing, honoring the history of the home. David and his team spent countless hours matching the stone of the addition to the original Tennessee stone used when the home was built.
“We really worked together to come up with a seamless blending of the two parts of the house,” says David. “The natural materials helped create a look that’s not too stark. There’s a real softness to the house.”
Interior designer Sarah Nelson collaborated with John and David to create the impeccable space for the Greeners. “Sarah was a longtime family friend of Jason’s mother,” says Betsy. “She has known Jason his whole life and known me for 18 years. She knows our family’s lifestyle better than most.” The Greeners’ home is classified as mid-century modern, based on when it was built, the low roof lines, exterior stone work, and large expanses of windows. But, adding a great deal of interest is the home’s “hybrid” nature, with traditional elements mixed in, like the massive wood beams.
“When adding on to the house, our main goal was to maintain the integrity of the existing home’s style and the era in which it was built, staying consistent in the materials used and the architectural elements that were already in place,” says Betsy. “We really wanted it to look cohesive and flow naturally from what was currently there. Some of the elements used to accomplish this goal include the copper roof and replications of the original stone flooring.”
The traditional front door was replaced with a Craftsman-style door that John designed, made of oak and reeded glass. “Sarah and her associate, Catherine Graeber, created functional, comfortable furniture and decorative style, and their excellent resources for furniture, fabrics, trims, and fixtures combined to give us our desired look,” says Betsy. “Sarah and Catherine always asked for my input – I know what I like, but needed a vision like theirs to bring everything together. All of us believe that a house can be contemporary without being a slave to one style. We used many diverse elements in the interior design, including antiques, special family heirlooms, and fun new pieces.”
Along with family heirlooms found throughout the home, the memories made on the grounds, and rooms that hold significance for the Greeners, they quickly felt right at home. “I love the main living area,” says Betsy. “It has many special memories for our family with countless parties and special events having taken place here. Our engagement party was hosted here in 1999 and Jason’s mother always hosted a Christmas Eve gift exchange for the family in this room. We look forward to making our own memories here, creating holiday traditions to pass down to our children.” In fact, the twin settees in this room were Jason’s grandmother’s and have been reupholstered for the third time.
Part of the new addition includes Betsy’s office and studio, where she focuses on her calligraphy business. “This space is definitely my refuge,” she says. “I have all my favorite colors around me, my books, my calligraphy supplies, and pictures of loved ones. This room gives me positive energy to deal with the stress of everyday life. It’s where I go to decompress. I read, do calligraphy, listen to music, write letters to friends and family – with pen and paper!” In Betsy’s sanctuary of sorts, her favorite piece is her desk. Sarah and Catherine took a French farm table that the Greeners had owned for years and skirted it to make a desk for Betsy.
While history creates a comfortable space to call home, the present is where the Greeners live with their two children, Sarah Beth, 13, and Thomas, 10. “There is a sense of tranquility here,” says Betsy. “We love being home together. Thomas spends the majority of his time outside in the yard where he and the neighborhood children run and play for hours. Sarah Beth loves to have friends over to swim, play with the dog in the yard, and watch movies. Every room feels connected to nature through the views of the yard and the grounds. It’s very peaceful. Plus, there’s a sense of history here too, knowing that Jason’s grandmother Mattie Lou and his mother Sherry both added so much of their spirits and personalities to the yard and home.”