Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper
Photos courtesy of Sean Shannon Photography
When Tommy Clapp, decided to update his circa 1958 Christiansburg home, he did it up right. “I loved this house because of its potential,” he reveals. He had been eyeing the home for three years as it contained unique details like the large picture windows in the living and dining rooms. It was ahead of its time for natural daylight pouring in through such big windows.
Clapp purchased the house in January of 2015 and worked on it non-stop for nine months. Almost nothing is the same, especially the very outdated knotty pine and black hinges in the kitchen. “I’ve touched every room, surface and fixture with the exception of the last project, a bathroom. A real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Townside, Clapp gets ideas from NRV houses he tours and shows, HGTV, Houzz, Architectural Digest, movies and TV shows. “When I watch television or a movie,” he explains, “I also look at the sets and furnishings. I post on Facebook some choices of things I want to use such as finishes and paint colors and ask people to vote for their favorites. It’s been helpful and interesting.”
Clapp and his kitchen designer, Chelle White of Home Depot, worked about a month to finalize the overall plan. The footprint of the room did not change but everything inside the room did. A huge island in the middle of this 16’x15’ room was at the top of his list. “I knew what I wanted, and Chelle fine-tuned things and added components I never thought of, such as expanding the cabinets around the refrigerator that makes a normal fridge appear to be a cabinet depth one, giving it a real custom feel.”
The bachelor homeowner used rich gray tones with the warmth and masculinity of darker wood capped off with light quartz countertops. Clapp served as his own general contractor. “Being a REALTOR®, I learned quickly to have certain skilled people on my list of contractors, like an excellent tile guy who did the [concrete] backsplash. I searched long and hard for it, and he had to install it almost piece by piece, which he said he would never do again. It took him four full days, but the end result is so worth it.”
Other parts reflect Clapp’s philosophy of making it look expensive, but not be extraordinarily costly. For example, he found the flooring online, which is a peel and stick material that was less than $1,000 including material and installation.
In the midst of the kitchen remodel, Clapp decided to add a 15-panel coffered ceiling in the kitchen and adjacent den. “With an 8-foot ceiling, it was a risk and an expensive one, but it’s probably the best feature other than the expansive center island,” he relates. “People who see the kitchen love the floors, backsplash and coffered ceiling.” During the five-month kitchen renovation, Clapp ate out, brought meals in and made do with a toaster on his bedroom floor and a microwave on a table.
When pressed, Clapp cannot single out a favorite aspect of the new kitchen. “Everything!” he exudes. “Each morning I walk through it, and I’m shocked that this is my house and my kitchen. Some friends give me a hard time because it’s just me living with a kitchen made for a caterer. You don’t expect a magnificent kitchen in such a modest house.”
The exterior had not been updated since the house was built, and Clapp viewed it as tired and boring. The house was all red brick, which dated it, so Clapp decided to paint. He heard through the grapevine that neighbors could not believe he was going to paint the house. “The painter [Mark Brookner, Painting Consultants, Radford] thought I was nuts when I asked him to paint four swatches of color on the front of my house.” His final choice of taupe turned out pleasing to all eyes.
Trendy faux stone replaced aluminum siding above the living room window, a relatively cheap and easy update. Clapp was shocked, however, at the price to replace the roof with simple black architectural shingles. He kept the wooden garage doors for their character, but changing or expanding the garage to accommodate his Chevrolet Suburban proved too complicated.
Landscaping was another part of Clapps’ renovation project. Overgrown bushes were removed and replaced. “The yard looks terrible this time of year, but the landscaper is coming soon to start lovely, extensive plans in front and back.”
“I love transformation, and when you see the before pictures and hear the passion in Tommy Clapp’s voice, it makes you appreciate his vision and dramatic renovation even more,” states staging professional Debbie Campbell of Stage 2 Smile, LLC. She assisted the homeowner with other aspects of the remodeling and was so impressed with all the attention to detail that she suggested the idea for this feature to New River Valley Magazine. Here it is! Thank you, Debbie. And Tommy. And Sean.
Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburg-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to NRV Magazine.