Every home has a story to tell. Author Kathryn Stockett’s renovated bungalow in a leafy Brookwood Hills enclave conveys a narrative of family, friendship and a whole lot of soul.
When it came time to reimagine her 1920s home, Stockett turned to close friends (and neighbors), designer Caroline Normark and architect D. Stanley Dixon, to transform the cramped structure into an airy abode. “I really wanted the home to be more livable. It was very chopped up and we had so many walls between us that our family never saw each other,” says Stockett.
To create a more open floor plan, Dixon enlisted contractor Wright Marshall to reconfigure the house, including widening the once long and narrow family room by 8 feet. The larger space now opens up onto an expansive covered porch that acts as an extension of the family room—perfect for the regular neighborhood soirees Stockett’s known for hosting.
Once the perfect proportions were in place, Stockett and Normark set out to fill the home with unique finds to pack in the personality. “She has an eclectic sense of style, so her one request was that the home not resemble a showroom,” recalls Normark. The duo scoured local vintage shops and Web sites such as Etsy, One Kings Lane and even eBay for rare and interesting pieces such as a sculptural square coffee table in the family room or the colorful rug mounted on canvas that now acts as a work of art in the same space.
“I love online shopping at night,” shares Stockett. “With a glass—or two—of wine in hand, I’ll stay up late browsing sites like One Kings Lane and a few days later, new packages will arrive on my doorstep. I don’t always look at dimensions, just color and form.” It’s here that Normark’s deft design skills came into play, often finding the perfect place for Stockett’s beloved treasures, as well as those of boyfriend and journalist Wyatt Williams, like his record player. A relic from Williams’s disc-jockey days, it holds special meaning for Stockett. “Having music—and a part of him—in the house is such a gift,” she says.
Normark also helped up the style quotient in Stockett’s home by introducing a slew of bright colors and bold patterns. In the guest bedroom, for example, she repurposed a traditional sleigh bed with a luxe velvety orange slipcover, while a Cisco Brothers sofa in the family room was given new life with a whimsical blue Romo fabric. “She’s certainly not afraid to push the envelope,” says Normark.
The heart of Stockett’s home though, lies not in its unique design, but in the lifestyle it fosters—for her family and the entire neighborhood. With essentially an open-door policy, one might find a large gathering of the neighborhood children around the kitchen table for a shared meal while adults sip cocktails in the spacious backyard. Daughter Lila’s chicken coop is also a popular draw. “Lila delivers fresh eggs every Monday to her clientele throughout the neighborhood,” says Stockett. “I hope this home is as fun a place for my daughter to grow up in as it has been for me to live in so far,” she adds.
The bungalow’s quirky nature also acts as a muse of sorts for the writer. Currently penning her second novel, there’s no nook off limits. “I pace a lot,” Stockett says of her writing process. “So you can find me on the back porch, by the chickens, in a bedroom—practically everywhere! This home my personal sanctuary.”
And most importantly, it’s a true reflection of the author. “The home’s modest exterior matches her private, quiet demeanor that’s reserved for the outside world,” says Normark, “but as soon as you step inside, it reveals her true personality—vibrant and full of life.”