The Longest Renovation
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Written by Sarah McCullen | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Despite doubt, an ugly duckling house is slowly but surely transformed into a beautiful home for one Oxford family.
When Dana and Andy Edwards walked through a 1970s duplex on Longest Street in Oxford while house hunting in 2016, they left certain that finishing a daunting renovation was not in their future. However, after contractor Jimmy Mogridge of Spring Construction Group LLC got the job started, they toured again, grasped the renovation vision and decided to make that house home for their family of six.
Mogridge, who lives right around the corner from the nearly 4,000-square-foot home, bought the house when it went on the market in 2014. Through the years, he had watched college kids move in and out of the neighborhood’s eyesore, and when the opportunity to buy arose, he couldn’t resist.
“It really was the worst-looking house in the neighborhood,” Mogridge said. “It had an uneven roofline, and so when the house came up for sale, it was so bad that I just wanted to buy it and re-do it in a way that would look really nice in the neighborhood.”
Once the house was his, Mogridge worked with architect Edye Conkerton to formulate a plan for the renovation. Over the next couple of years, they worked with several potential buyers, and reworked their vision with each one, but they had one overall goal — they knew they wanted a modern house, but one that would blend in with the rest of the homes in the neighborhood.
“We went through several iterations of plans just because, with a remodel, we didn’t buy the house with an end vision in mind,” Mogridge said. “We bought the house and then tried to figure out what we were going to do with it.”
Without a committed buyer to work alongside, Conkerton drew up a final plan for both the inside and outside, and several years after Mogridge purchased the home, the flip began. Not long after, the Edwardses, who lived west of town in Cumberland Place, went to see the house for the first time.
“Jimmy’s wife Molly was actually showing us houses at the time, and Jimmy, who’s a good friend of ours, called and said I know you guys are interested in a house in town. So we went to look at it and we were like, ‘No way Jose,’” Dana Edwards said. “They had barely done anything, and we just couldn’t visualize it.”
Over the next several months, Mogridge ripped out the ceiling and gutted the entire house. The walls were only studs when the Edwardses, who still hadn’t found a house to buy, decided to give the Longest house one more look.
“When we came to see it the second time, we could see where the house was headed, and a lot of the tough work had already been done, so we agreed to move forward with the plans in November of 2016,” Andy Edwards said.
It took about nine more months to finish the renovation, and with the exception of a few minor tweaks, such as reworking the bedrooms for their four boys, the couple followed the plan that Mogridge and Conkerton had developed.
“By the time we got in here, the plans were already done, so we just got to finish it,” Dana said. “And Jimmy had the best ideas, like the spiral staircase and the half-wall — I almost told him no, but he was like no, you’re going to love it. He really just guided us through it.”
The half-wall is the focal point upon entry through the full-glass front door, and it divides the house, creating a private and unique kitchen and living space in the back. Hanging on the wall is a painting by a friend of Dana’s, Charleston artist Emily Brown. That painting inspired the color scheme that Dana chose to use throughout the house.
“Emily told me years ago that all her paintings have a dark spot in them which represents the dark times in everyone’s lives,” Dana said. “I wanted it to be the first thing I saw when I came in the front door to remind me that, despite the dark spots, there is always beauty to be seen.”
With the help of interior designer Julie Montgomery, Dana used navy and gold accents throughout the house, in contrast with clean white walls adorned with family photographs and paintings by friends.
“Almost every piece of art in here was done by a friend,” Dana said. “Emily Brown is one of my best elementary friends, there’s one over the fireplace that was done by Peyton Hutchinson for Andy for his birthday, and then we got Bradley Gordon to do four paintings for the boys for Christmas. Details like that really play a part in making the house our home.”
Some other key features include shelving in the master bathroom made of pine flooring from the couple’s last home, the lofty ceiling in the living room area and the custom-poured concrete sink in the powder room.
“If I’m in the house, I’m going to say ‘hey, come here and let me show you this sink we did,’” Mogridge said. “Dana wanted the concrete sink, and when you see it, it’s simple and you think ‘that’s cool,’ but then you really look at it and you’re like ‘how did they do that?’”
Mogridge also likes the glass sliding doors that lead in to the den, and the wall that houses the wood-burning fireplace — an addition made at Andy’s request. The fireplace, the wood trim and the wall are all painted a classic white, but the variance in textures creates interest.
“One of the dilemmas you face when finishing out a house is making sure you add enough detail for interest, but keep things simple,” Mogridge said. “Like the fireplace wall in the den — the more you look, the more you see, but it never looks busy.”
Modern black trim around the large windows complements the white exterior of the home that sits on a half-acre lot near the Oxford Depot Trail, which the Edwards family uses to walk to events on campus. In the back, they poured a concrete slab for their boys to play basketball, and decided to forgo plans to build a pool in order to preserve a massive oak tree, one of their favorites parts of their yard.
“We built the house and did all of the landscaping around the oak tree in the back,” Dana said. “We love our neighborhood and where we are. We love to hear the cheers from the baseball games on campus in the spring. And the back porch — the sunsets on the back porch are the best in Oxford.”