By Madoline Markham
Photos by Lindsey Drennan
Drive down Sanders Road to where it intersects with Savoy Street in Bluff Park, and for a second you might think you are in Kentucky bluegrass country. David Smith has a lifetime of memories on the 33 acres there. Some of his earliest memories were playing in the creek that ran through the property and in his family’s swimming pool. In later years he’d ride motorcycles on the trails behind his home where his brother, 10 years his senior, had ridden horses, and store his collector cars in the barns where his dad kept his collection, including a light blue 1954 Ford convertible that David says won every race it was in.
When David was 2 years old in 1964, his parents R.E. and Helen had bought 22 acres of property near where David’s brother had been riding horses on Lazy Acres Ranch and moved into a single-story home on the property where David remembers cooking out on the patio with friends and gathering eggs from chickens for breakfast. By 1967 R.E. and Helen had completed the two-story colonial home with white columns where they’d reside the remainder of their lives.
The neighboring properties at the time also had acreage and horse stables, and over the decades to come the Smiths bought up several other parcels of land, including the 5-acre corner of Savoy and Sanders that belonged to James Tyler and another property on the other side of their home (with a house where David’s nephew and his wife, Brian and Dawn Smith, live today). Altogether the Smiths eventually owned 33 acres, much of which was lined with white fences and 15 of which had to be mowed, a chore David says he spent hours on throughout his life.
After his mother Helen passed away in 2019, 11 years after R.E., David spent many days sorting through the four homes and five barns on the property and ultimately decided to auction off the farm in the fall of 2019. David Hare, the owner of the Bluff Park Ice Cream Shoppe, now owns 8.6 acres on the corner of Sanders Road and Savoy Street and plans to preserve the land. The remaining 25.86 acres went to developer Lance Kitchens, who has plans to start construction this summer on a new neighborhood fittingly called Smith Farm—but not for the 2 ½ acres that two-story Smith colonial home sits on.
When builder and remodeler Matthew Gregory bought the Smith Farm house, it hadn’t been renovated since it was built in 1967, and its décor was very much spoke to that era. Matthew admits he’s partial to old homes and passionate about bringing them new life, and that’s just what this team did this past winter and spring.
To update the look of the exterior, all eight colonial pillars came down along with the green shutters, and in place of the original porch overhang they built a new single story overhang that frames a new black front door with four square columns.
Inside, in place of shag carpet they laid new hardwoods, in place of floral wallpaper up went eggshell-colored paint and in place of dark wood cabinets now hang bright white ones with gold hardware.
On the main floor, Matthew’s team created a master suite with a spacious bathroom and closet. In the kitchen area they took out a fireplace that was in bad shape and opened up the space where it was between the kitchen and the living room. They also removed a second staircase that took up space in the kitchen beforehand and took down the walls that had created a hallway between two living rooms to create a more open feel.
Upstairs, the original design had a master suite that took up the width of the upstairs and two additional bedrooms. Since he moved the master downstairs, in its place, David created an upstairs living space and four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. All in all, the home now has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.
The house’s original windows and interior doors remain, now with new hardware and a fresh coat of paint, and its 9-foot ceilings still create a feeling of grandeur as they did back in the ‘60s, just with a fresh look for its new owners to make their own lifetime of memories in the decades to come.
Exterior (see photo at top of article)
The most notable change to the passerby is the removal of the original eight round columns and green shutters and the addition of a smaller, more modern front porch in its place. Not pictured: The porch ceiling is painted light blue, which according to Gullah/Geechee tradition, brought good luck and warded off evil spirits.
To freshen up the look of the staircase you see in the front entrance, David added a metal railing with a contemporary flair in place of the traditional wood spindles that had been there for decades before.
The home’s original kitchen was gutted and opened up to the living room adjacent to it. The bright space now showcases white cabinets with gold hardware and an island four bar stools wide.
This eating space off the kitchen overlooks a well that was originally on the property and the backyard.
There has always been a living room on the front of the home and another on the back, but David opened up the hallway that once stood between them. The fireplace in the front living room is original to the house.
Most of the rooms in the house now have canned lighting, but a metallic chandelier makes a fun statement in this room on the front of the home.
Upstairs Living Room
David reworked the entire upstairs and created a living space at the top of the stairs that can act as a kids den.
Twenty-four-by-thirty-inch ceramic tile with marble look is the showstopper of this spacious bathroom, with metallic accents, a large shower and a soaking tub to round out the space.
Behind the Scenes
- Renovation Construction: Matthew Gregory, Gregory Dream Homes
- Renovation Project Manager: Daniel Bunting
- Staging: Monica Kelley Interiors & Staging
- Realtors: Andrea Quick & Lori McRee, Sweet HOMElife Real Estate
More Reno Stories
Matthew Gregory documented the Smith family home renovation on a video on his YouTube channel, and you can find more footage of his home renovation projects around Birmingham on it too. To see the videos search for the “Matthew Gregory” channel on YouTube.com.