A Charming, Vivid Georgia Home Full of History — House Tour
Name: Eric and Lori Wright with their kids Claire, Julia and Maximilian
Location: North High Shoals, Georgia
Size: 1700 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned
This Georgia home has history. Built around 1898, Eric and Lori’s house is nestled on three acres of bucolic countryside near the Apalachee River; there’s a babbling creek that they can see from their sleeping porch. Originally a mill house built for the factory workers of the textile mill that was built in High Shoals around 1848, the property has two other buildings: an old carriage house the couple turned into a studio and shop, and an old barn they now use for storage. Surrounded by such natural beauty, it’s no surprise that the couple have devoted their careers to creativity. Their house is also home to their design business, ME Speak Design, where they craft and sell “Japanese-inspired housewares with Southern roots.”
“Old house charm. There’s just nothing like an old house. The way the floors slope up and down, the way every room has a different ceiling or floor, the way it smells. It has an aura about it that is intoxicating; it’s not something you can really recreate.”
Eric and Lori share the three-bedroom, three-bath home with their kids Claire, Julia and Maximilian and their pet rooster Freddie. Lori describes some of the details of their home:
“Our home is very colorful, decorated with the things we love and many that we have made. We also have some special pieces from travels that we hold dear. We have some beautiful textiles from India, pottery and paintings by Eric’s mother (who now has Alzheimer’s and is unable to create art), a Japanese statue that sits on top of our piano that Lori’s father brought back from Japan (where he was stationed in the Navy) and a brass Thai dancer gifted to us by Eric’s father that he brought back from Vietnam.
Our nightstand was made by Eric’s grandfather and given to us on our wedding day; we celebrated communion at our ceremony using that very table. We have built much of the lighting and furniture for our home and recently did a mini kitchen remodel, painting the cabinets and replacing the old hardware with ones that we hand forged from brass. We designed and made brass and copper pendants and charred pine countertops. We are avid cooks and love spending time in the kitchen…and now even more.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: We are very eclectic and colorful. We mix and match modern, traditional and Japanese together, creating our own personal style. We moved here from a very large house so we sold or gave away as much furniture and accessories as we now have in this house. By doing that we could only keep furniture or housewares we couldn’t part with; it was a beautiful exercise for us to practice and one we value deeply.
Inspiration: We are heavily influenced by Japanese design and the South we live in. We also draw greatly from our own senses; the sound and breeze from the Apalachee River near our home, red wine, whiskey, the blues, the meals that are cooking in our kitchen, the smell of the changing seasons, our garden, color. Inspiration is all around us and reflected in our home, work and life.
Favorite Element: We initially didn’t want an old house — too much work — but when we stepped foot in the front door we both filled up with tears and by the time we got around to the wrap-around screened back porch we were making an offer. Old house charm. There’s just nothing like an old house. The way the floors slope up and down, the way every room has a different ceiling or floor, the way it smells. It has an aura about it that is intoxicating; it’s not something you can really recreate.
“The first night we moved in, no furniture but our mattresses on the floor, we poured ourselves some whiskey and we took a sledgehammer to the wall where we guessed the fireplace would be.”
Biggest Challenge: The same as our favorite element! It’s an old house. Our to-do list is several pages long. Currently both of our bathrooms are in need of a remodel, one of which is almost unusable. This is why you see no bathroom pictures!
What Friends Say: Friends always say how cozy and comfortable it is. We pride ourselves on making a home that is filled with love and we think people feel that. We are known for having guests stay until the wee hours of the morning; maybe it’s too comfortable!
Biggest Embarrassment: It’s a toss up but first would be that bathroom we mentioned! It was an add on at some point years ago and currently is on the verge of falling into the basement. It is next on our list and going to be quite a job. When people come over we always feel like we have to explain that it is in remodel; we have been saying this for three years… The other would be our old linoleum-tiled kitchen floor. We love the black and white tiles but these are in bad shape. Currently we threw a rug over most of it until we can budget for a replacement!
Proudest DIY: Hands down our fireplace and mantel. One of our favorite parts of our house was the beautiful old brick chimney climbing the outside of the house. Someone years ago had built a wall covering the fireplace on the inside. The first night we moved in, no furniture but our mattresses on the floor, we poured ourselves some whiskey and we took a sledgehammer to the wall where we guessed the fireplace would be. Fortunately we hit it dead on and a beautiful wood burning fireplace was there! We restored the fireplace and hearth and built a beautiful mantel to finish it off. We recently added a wood burning stove into the fireplace to help heat the home more efficiently. Although we live in Georgia, we aren’t afraid to burn a fire any time of year, sometimes we just turn on the A/C so we can!
Biggest Indulgence: The curtains in the living room were a splurge for us. When we found them through Anthropologie we had to have them. They are a beautiful scene in crewel, designed by the artist Rebecca Rebouche. They are true works of art. In order to appreciate them at all times, Eric hand forged special curtain rods so when we close the curtain at night it hangs like art. The light coming through them makes the patterns come alive. They are always a conversation piece when we have company.
Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to try something new when creating your home. Color is a simple beautiful way to change the look and feel of a room and it can always be repainted. Also, anchor each room with something that inspires you and create the space around it. It’s okay to have place holders; we have several throughout our house that aren’t the exact piece but we look to it for inspiration for finding the right piece or making it. When appointing your home it’s always better to buy quality; it’s a lot less wasteful than buying cheap and repeating. Lastly, your home doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s yours to live in and love in and at the end of the day the flaws are just footprints of your story.
Dream Sources: Japan, our collection of Japanese design books come as daily inspiration. Also Gold. We once read in an Architectural Digest where a designer said, “When in doubt, make it big and paint it gold.” We loved this so much it stuck. Who doesn’t love shiny metals? Brass and copper both inspire our decor and work. We have sprinkles of it throughout our home.
Paint — Benjamin Moore Williamsburg Collection, Buffet Green
Couch — Thrive Home Furnishings
Pillow fabric — Chaing Mai Dragon by Shumacher
Black and white ink wash paintings — our favorite Etsy artist Manjuzaka
Hanging light — IKEA
Light stand — ME Speak Design
Colorful painting — Bryn Adamson
Rooster Painting, Dog Painting and Woodcarving of woman — all by Eric’s mother, Michelle Wright
Paisley Chair and table by Henredon
Crewel Curtains — artist Rebecca Rebouche for Anthropologie
Rugs — Windsor Rug Gallery
Oriental screen — Beverly Hall Furnishings
Green Chair from Lori’s parents
By us, ME Speak Design for the following — Charred Lamps, coffee table, wooden side table, low Japanese-inspired table, curtain hardware, wooden vase on mantel, red metal chair
Rug and Armoire — gifted to us by previous owner
Ice Chest/ Bar — found at thrift store
Paint — Palace Ochre Gold by Benjamin Moore
Dining Room Chairs — Eric’s grandmother’s
Mahogany Bench — Bombay Company
Hanging Screen — Beverly Hall Furniture
Textiles on wall — from India and Thailand
By us, ME Speak Design — Dining Table, Side Table, Curtain Hardware and textile hardware
Paint color for cabinets, Bone Black by Benjamin Moore
Wall color Hardwood Putty by Benjamin Moore
Appliances — GE
By us, ME Speak Design — Hand Forged Brass Hardware, Brass and Copper Pendants, Serving Boards, Knife Rack, Kitchen Island, Bar Stools, Charred Countertop
HALLWAY SITTING AREA
Paint — Wythe Blue from Benjamin Moore
Rug from parents
Vintage Yellow lamps — Etsy
Lamp shades — Target
Mid Century Credenza — flea market find
By us, ME Speak Design — Pallet Cart Chairs, Metal side tables with wooden trays
Paint — Benjamin Moore, Palace Pearl
Bed and bench — Crate and Barrel
Nightstand — made by Eric’s grandfather and gifted to us
Armoire — left to us by previous owner
Framed Japanese Silk — thrift store
Bedding — Dwell Studio
Paint — Benjamin Moore, Palace Pearl
Bed — ME Speak Design
Bedding — India via Etsy
Red Shelf — parents basement
Light — Ikea
Rug — parents
CLAIRE AND JULIA’S ROOM
Paint — Benjamin Moore, Palace Pearl
Jenny Lind beds — left to us by previous owner
Bedding — Pottery Barn
Nightstand — gift from Eric’s family
Artwork — by Eric’s mother, Michelle Wright
By us, ME Speak Design — Blanket Chests at end of beds, Desk, Chair