An Open Floor Plan ~ for the kids

by Aaron Wilson


Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Natalie Gibbs Photography

Jim and Julie Snyder designed a home and a lifestyle perfect for raising their daughters, but their story begins in a 10 x 40-foot, single wide trailer in Floyd. “It was our first home when we married,” Julie explains. “The second year we moved up to a double wide for four years.” As they planned to build a house for which Jim would be his own contractor, Julie requested an interior openness that would permit her to see the children from any room on the main floor.

Radford native Jim loved growing up in a neighborhood where kids could ride bikes, play at each other’s houses and have fun right near home. Even though they were surrounded by farm land when they broke ground in Riner, the Snyders knew the street was slated for development, and with more houses would come more families and children.

With a basement for kids to play or have slumber parties and a first floor open for comfort and second floor with bedrooms, the house was ready for the newly growing family in 1994. “Our house is all about the kids,” says Julie. It’s a friendly floor plan with a country casual feel. The main floor sports a spring meadow shade of green, and the delightful flowers over the mirror in what used to be the master bathroom were drawn and painted freehand by an artist friend.

That room is now home office space, as Jim finished a beautiful, L-shaped master bedroom over the garage. Soft lavender walls are the perfect accent against teak furnishings. “We like teak for the sleek look and easy care,” Jim states. Their dining room furniture is teak as well. Julie is especially enamored with more storage, as there’s not much — or any — in a double wide.

Jim then built spacious decks, a good-sized playroom off the back of the main floor and began the landscaping. A multitude of perennials, annuals, shrubs, water features and grass are strategically and beautifully arranged on the 2.3 acres. Brick walkways, step stones on mulch and a variety of paths offer many places to stop, reflect and sit down. This is not lost on the wildlife, as a fawn was spending quiet time in their yard the day Natalie Gibbs came to take photos.

The couple met at Iowa State where Jim got his bachelor’s degree in horticulture due to the love of landscaping that his mom instilled in him. While there, he bought 18 acres in the bend of the Little River in Floyd County with a loan from his grandfather. Upon graduation he took a job in Roanoke where he eventually managed the hydro seeding division and concurrently started Riverbend Nursery. The business sold last year, and while Julie bowed out as CPA for it, Jim has stayed on as CEO. For his own yard, he created a haven of shade (on property that didn’t have a single tree) and sun-loving perennials that were trial plantings for the nursery or overstock plants from the same.

However, this is not to be the retirement home of their dreams as they plan to move before the end of the year. While looking for land as investment, the Snyders stumbled upon the perfect spot for a timber frame house on riverfront property, also in Montgomery County – a perfect spot, they agree, for adult children to visit and grandchildren to romp and play. “There will be a variety of wildlife in this more remote location,” Jim says, along with a rustic dwelling with open beams and natural materials.

“Living in the New River Valley is ideal. Given the warmth of the people, beauty of the countryside, wonderful new schools within a few minutes, mild climate with all the seasons, and proximity to anything you need, what more could you ask!” exclaims Julie, who grew up in Iowa. She already knows the new house will have sufficient storage, along with an open floor plan ~ to watch grandchildren perhaps this time around.

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