When the Durretts first saw the split level house under construction by Poff Construction, Rick was not impressed. “I didn’t like the location, and it wasn’t graded out back,” he says. It was 1972, and they bought it anyway. “It turned out wonderful when all the work was done,” Rick concedes.
But, as any homeowner knows, the work is never really done. Rick and Jane Durrett have renovated, redecorated, added on, converted rooms and crafted a multi-level sanctuary out back across 47 years. These high school sweethearts were in the last class  to graduate from the old Valley High School in Hot Springs, Va. They have been married 62 years and lived in this Christiansburg home three-quarters of their lives together, raising three kids and working locally.
Rick’s job with Sears brought them to the New River Valley. He has a varied work background and owned convenience stores much of the time. Jane worked for the News-Messenger selling ads for 28 years. But it’s home that brings them joy, tranquility and a peaceful retirement.
A very large fourth bedroom was added downstairs. The carport was converted some years ago, and the kitchen renovated just before the turn into the 21st century. At Jane’s direction, Rick paints the kitchen at least every five years. Most recently, they have had hardwood floors installed.
The centerpiece in the front yard is a beautiful red maple with an American flag and lovely circle of stonework filled with mulch, lightscaping, low shrubs and a couple of guardian geese. Everything out front is super neat and tidy.
A spacious sunroom was added on the back outside wall of the house, and that brick wall holds Jane’s collection of sun faces. She calls it the Garden Room. A second sun room sports a wood ceiling and three sides of windows with bamboo roll up shades. “It is all cedar wood and very warm on a sunny winter day. We have a portable A/C unit for summer,” Rick says.
The backyard was home to a pool for 25 years, which is gone, and now it is a glorious, multi-level collection of decks, pathways, fences and covered spaces with statues, flowers and garden trinkets Jane has collected – or received for anniversary or birthday presents – across decades. Rick figures he figuratively owns the ridge behind them. “No one can build on it. It is super steep and might as well be mine,” he jokes. And it gives them privacy and the nature and wildlife view they so love.
Jane came home one day with a lovely framed glass piece, and she proceeded to paint Happy Garden Happy Life on it. Every description by Rick of everything in the backyard and front yard is pretty much the same: “We did it together.” They have built, in Jane’s words: “The kind of home you want to come home to; a place where grandkids can relax and climb on the furniture.”
They think about moving. A smaller house. A smaller yard. Smaller gardens. “But we love it so much, we can’t move,” Rick states emphatically. “It’s home!”
Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Tom Wallace