Gem for Generations

The Triplett Family Jane and Rufus Triplett with Jane’s daughter Susan Jones and their grandson Hardwick Sawyer Jones

The Triplett Family
Jane and Rufus Triplett with Jane’s daughter Susan Jones and their grandson Hardwick Sawyer Jones

Round hedges line a mossy brick walkway leading to the porch of the Hardwick house on Cleveland’s Ocoee Street. Sitting just off the downtown sidewalk, the stately brick home with a postage stamp front lawn was built in the 1800s. “It first came into my family in 1852,” explains current homeowner Jane Hardwick-Triplett, whose great-great-great-grandfather purchased the house. “It left the family in 1947 and stayed out of my family until about three years ago.”

By Candice Graham   Photography by Med Dement

That was when this vintage jewel came back into the Hardwick family in purely modern fashion. “My husband Rufus and I were looking for a place to live outside of Atlanta, and this home popped up on my iPhone on Zillow,” Jane says. “I said, ‘I recognize this house!’”

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Gem2Jane had never lived in the home herself, but growing up nearby she heard stories of its former glory days. “My dad and I would walk by when I was a kid and he would say, ‘Oh, you’re going to love this house! I’m going to show it to you one day,’” she recalls.

Soon after finding the home listing, the Tripletts set up a viewing. “We split up and each walked around the house by ourselves,” says Rufus. “When we met back at the base of the stairs, we both said ‘Yep, this is it!’” Over the years, the home had fallen into a state of disrepair – but that made the decision a risk they knew was worth taking. “We were scared, but we did it anyway,” Jane says.

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Built to be a cheerful home for entertaining, it had become heavy, dark, and decrepit. “I remember standing outside and looking up to see the soffits were just rotten,” Jane says. “At the time I was so in love with the house, so infatuated with it, that I didn’t see its flaws until it was ours.”

Mauve-pink wallpaper from the ‘60s blanketed the walls, accented by trim painted in a yellowing beige. Structural issues caused glass windows to bow and lean. Bathrooms suffered from plumbing issues. In fact, the home’s plumbing, electricity, and heating and air hadn’t been updated since the 1920s, when parts of the home were rebuilt after a fire.

But one year after signing the paperwork to make the house their own, it was move-in ready. “It took eight months of hard work,” Jane explains. “The carpenters set up their workshop right in the house. I didn’t see these floors for almost a year. They were just covered with sawdust.”

Today, the home is not only structurally sound, but maintains the integrity of its time period while glistening with a brand-new shine. “I wanted to respect the age of the house, but be contemporary, so it’s eclectic,” Jane says. “I appreciated that the house had gone through remodeling and had gone through a fire, so I didn’t feel like I had to be
a purist.”

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The entryway of the home is grand, yet warm. A wide staircase leads to the second level, and on either side are welcoming rooms for gathering. To the left, the dining room is bright with canary-yellow walls, crisp white molding, and built-in cabinetry. Red accents – such as antique china and scarlet-hued leopard-print seats – add spice. “My grandmother loved yellow and red, so that was the inspiration,” Jane says. The dining table’s centerpiece, a 1920s-era sterling silver candelabra, was passed down from the Hardwick family. Red jugs on the mantle date back to early 19th century Japan and a nearby decorative screen to 18th century China. A diverse mixture of antiques gives the room character and visual interest, with each piece working together in cohesion.

To the right of the entryway, the living room is a soothing space to relax. A water-toned wall color is accentuated by crisp white molding adding a fresh, chic touch. The fireplace mantle, original to the home, has surprisingly contemporary sleek lines. Displayed on top are antique blue and white plates dating back to the 1490s.

In the living room, much of the furniture was purchased from estate sales. “Many people now moving out of larger homes into condos have big beautiful things they can’t take with them. Since the size of this house can accommodate big pieces, we’re always there to help,” Jane says, laughing.

Mirrors and framed pictures are hung with cables to avoid holes in the wall and allow for easy swaps. A framed map of the Georgia coast highlights the port of Hardwick.

Beyond the living room, the sunroom bursts with golden warmth. The home’s original glass-paned windows wrap around the room, offering views of both the courtyard and the street. Jane says the bright space was once her grandmother’s favorite room in the house. Today, it’s used daily for enjoying morning coffee and reading the paper. The room’s beamed flooring reflects light, and a painting of the Georgia coast by Rufus’s daughter adds a sapphire blue sparkle.

Adjacent to the sunroom is the fresh, contemporary kitchen. Stainless steel appliances and recessed lighting lend a modern air to the room. Granite countertops with wine-hued veining offer practicality and elegance, and a marble tile backsplash adds a dash of decadence.

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Large windows spanning the back wall offer a clear view to the outside from the kitchen’s center island, which has a putty-gray base with expansive storage space for pots, pans, and appliances.

Upstairs, a common area has heart pine flooring in a hip herringbone pattern. In a creative move, the Tripletts decided to recycle the flooring from the home’s original bedrooms. A crystal chandelier, originally in the dining room, hangs above the stairway. At night, it can be seen glistening from the outside.

Just off the stairwell is the master bedroom, which is a calm and relaxing
sanctuary with its sea foam green walls. The room’s original fireplace offers comfort and warmth on cool nights, and its tiny original closets were made deeper for modern use.

Across the hall, a guest bedroom is outfitted in peaceful blue and white. Powder blue walls create a soft canvas for sleek white beds topped with plush quilts. “We wanted two beds because we have so many friends and kids that come visit,” Jane explains.

Even though the home has plenty of space, it’s the perfect size for the hospitable couple, who stays involved in their community. “We use every bit of this house, and we almost always have some kind of company,” Jane says. “We use it for benefits probably once a month if not more. It’s a great home for our family, but also for the community.”

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