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Cool Spaces: Makeover takes Montrose home from '90s contemporary to French Country classic

Michelle Matthews | mmatthews@al.comBy Michelle Matthews | mmatthews@al.com 
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on June 03, 2015 at 10:00 AM, updated June 03, 2015 at 10:01 AM

When Jeanene Cockrell and her husband, Wayne, moved back to the Mobile area after a short stint in Jackson, Miss., she knew just where she wanted to live: on Village Drive, in a quiet, secluded neighborhood in Montrose, off Scenic 98 between Daphne and Fairhope.

At that time, though, it wasn't meant to be. Now, nine years later, they've found just the right house on that very street and, after a 14-month renovation, their house is just the way they wanted it. "We wanted this street," Jeanene said, "so we took our time and found this house. It had good bones."

The house was built in the early 1990s and had been occupied by only one owner. Twenty-five years later, it needed updating, said Jeanene. And so, the Cockrells completely renovated it, starting with the outside. The exterior had the original, contemporary stucco look, but they've given it more character and European flair by adding custom shutters, paint and a façade of river rocks.

Inside, there was "not a single thing that wasn't touched," said Jeanene, who worked with her friend Pat LaGrange, an interior designer with The Alltogether Shop, to decorate the house using many of Jeanene's existing furnishings and accessories, with Pat's expert touches throughout on fabrics and fixtures.

"Everything was very 1991," said Jeanene.

It had been several years since Jeanene and Pat had worked together, and this time their plan was to go for a "Southern, French look." The oak floors downstairs, which feature planks of varying widths, were re-stained, in a darker finish, and hardwood floors were added upstairs as well.

The home's new entrance leads into an open, two-story foyer with a staircase straight ahead and the dining room to the left, holding a modern, glass-topped table and eight upholstered chairs. French doors open from the dining room into a study – formerly used as a sunroom – that allows Wayne, a physician with Alabama Orthopedic Clinic in Mobile, to bring work home but still be close to the rest of the family in the evenings.

Just off the dining room is a new, walk-in pantry that was created by enclosing a former bar area. The kitchen was completely gutted, Jeanene said. Before, it "was modern, stark white, with white appliances," she said. The wall between the kitchen and the family room was removed and replaced with a wide, open archway over a bar with barstools on the family-room side.

Jeanene loves to cook, so the kitchen is just as functional as it is elegant. In her past houses, she said, "We always have spent the most time, and money, in the kitchen," she said. "It's our gathering place."

The kitchen is filled with lots of natural light, with windows over the copper farm sink. "The windows are one of the reasons we bought this house," Jeanene said.

A large island in the center and high-end stainless steel appliances make prepping and cooking a breeze. At the far end of the kitchen is a comfortable sitting area, where Jeanene said she likes to relax with a glass of wine while dinner is simmering on the stove.

In addition to the windows, the kitchen is lit by three pendant lights that hang over the island, and a chandelier Jeanene found in New Orleans hangs in the sitting area. "We went out on some limbs with the lighting this time," she said.

Stephanie Spradling painted the kitchen cabinets with milk paint that "starts to age," Jeanene said, and "look like old French furniture."

Stephanie also painted the mantel in the family room with a similar effect. Previously, the family room was, like the kitchen, white and nondescript. A wet bar along one wall features wavy antique glass cabinets.

The master suite is downstairs, with a large bedroom overlooking the back yard and pool area. "This room really transformed," said Pat. "It's much airier and lighter."

The expansive master bathroom was "gutted all the way back," Jeanene said, with mirrors soaring from the top of the sinks to the ceiling.

Upstairs is a guest room and 17-year-old Allison's bedroom and den. Her bedroom combines antique twin headboards with crisp black-and-white bedding. The den features a closet converted into desk space and a cozy reading nook hidden behind a curtain, with a cushioned seat by the window that overlooks the pool.

"We wanted to keep it simple, not fussy," Jeanene said of her daughter's living area.

They also converted part of the attic space into a workout room and walk-in closet, giving the house a total of about 4,000 square feet.

Throughout the house, Jeanene points out geometric designs in the drapes and other fabrics that are repeated in the unique light fixtures – all the work of interior designer Pat LaGrange, who was one of the owners of the downtown Mobile gift shop Inside Up that closed last year. "I like what she does," Jeanene said.

Many of the paint colors were pulled from fabrics, Pat said. "It's very soothing, in a way."

Pat first helped Jeanene with a decorating project in 2000, and they've been friends ever since. "I completely trust her," Jeanene said. "I have referred her to so many people. She's honest and all the things you'd want in someone you have to be this intimate with."

Downstairs, French doors from the family room, the master bedroom and the sitting area in the kitchen open onto a screened porch leading to the back-yard pool and pool house, which has an outdoor kitchen and a bathroom. The same paneled ceiling is repeated in the pool house, entry and screened porch.

"One of the things we like so much is, wherever you are, you can see out back," Jeanene said.

The back yard is enclosed by stucco walls that give a feeling of privacy. The front and back yards are professionally landscaped and maintained by Dennis Williams of Integrity Landscaping, but the Cockrells have added a few touches of their own, like Jeanene's weeping willow in the front yard and Allison's herb garden. They also enjoy the Satsuma and grapefruit bushes left by the previous owner.

After having the experience of building a brand-new home and renovating an existing one, Jeanene would rather repurpose a house. "I didn't want a new neighborhood," she said. "I like that feeling of old and new. It's a whole different feeling."


Source: http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2015/06/cool_spaces_makeover_takes_mon.html#incart_river