Photos Keith Beauchamp
On Horseleg Creek Road, just across the river from the Coosa Country Club, sits a sprawling ranch home, with its interior decked out for Christmas in elegant style. The rooms are decorated with a tasteful aesthetic, nothing gaudy or obtrusive. Like the rest of the home’s décor, the color scheme of the Christmas decorations is classic.
Pine boughs. Flowers. Silver and gold. Each piece is placed with care, just the right touch here and there. Not too much, though, nothing over the top. Where bright colors are used, they pop, accenting the spaces rather than overwhelming them. The house seems to be quietly holding its breath, waiting for a holiday party to break out any minute. This time last year, however, the home’s owners had no idea they’d be living here in 2021.
A call out of the blue
The Mauer family had lived in a lovely, secluded home in North River Farms for sixteen happy years. Chris, a local business owner, and Kim, an ICU nurse, had raised their children there and had no plans to move to Horseleg Creek Road or anywhere else.
Then the phone rang.
“We sort of accidentally sold our home,” Kim says. “Our house was not on the market, but we got a call from Brooke Brinson of Hardy Realty, who said he had a young married couple with children who wanted to see the house. So, we let them.” Laughing, she adds, “Well, within a couple of weeks we had sold our house and had nowhere to go!”
That was May of this year. Hardy Realty introduced them to the home on the Coosa River, they immediately loved it and bought it. They moved in during the first week of July.
“When I first walked through this house,” Kim says, “I felt a sense of coming home. I was raised in a ranch house, so I’ve always pictured myself eventually living in another one. For me, ranch house equals home.”
Another reason the Mauers enjoy their ranch house is there are no staircases to climb (except to access the apartment above the garage). This is a feature they suspect will pay off later in life, in their senior years. With a chuckle, Kim says, “Age in place: that’s our plan!”
The Mauers also like the way this home is laid out, the way it flows. It accommodates their large extended family. “We’re sort of the hub of the family; everyone comes here,” Kim says. “Probably about once a week I have a full house, but even if everyone winds up in the kitchen, there’s still plenty of room. Our previous home was not quite as open as this one is, so this has been fantastic.”
The house was built in 1948 by Dr. Robert Harbin, and it has undergone a couple of rounds of expansions since then. Previous owners added a whole master suite wing, also a front bedroom. “We’ve made some changes, too,” Kim says, “but we didn’t change the footprint of the house.” The Mauers did some updates in the kitchen: adding a commercial cooktop, some painting, a new sink and cabinet hardware.
The bar’s previous cherrywood finish has been painted a soothing green color. Kim adds, “We’ve recently uncovered and restored the original flooring in two of the bedrooms, removing the carpet and bringing the floors back. We’re trying to be true to the home’s history.”
As a special personal touch, the Mauers have hung several works of art that were created by Chris’ sister, Tami Modlin. These landscape paintings and figure drawings are important additions to this home because they convey a sense of family connection that is so important to the Mauers.
Decking the halls
This is a lot of house to decorate for Christmas, and Kim Mauer had no desire to do it alone. She rallied family and friends to the task. For instance, she called on long-time family friend and floral expert Carol Rutledge (owner of Bluem). “She is responsible for the beautiful flowers and plants in the dining room,” Kim says. “She brought in the orchids and the amaryllis. And she did a beautiful tree in the foyer. It was fantastic.” Also, Rutledge came out and walked Kim around the grounds and taught her all about the plants and trees in the yard, and how to best take care of them. “She’s such a lovely person. I so appreciate her expertise.”
The Mauer’s daughter, Lauren Ward, also pitched in, working hard to make the family home a festive holiday showcase. “Lauren did a great job helping us decorate,” Kim says. “She has a good eye for it.”
One big chore Kim did not want to take on herself was decorating the Christmas tree. Fortunately, one of her friends, Josh Kerce, who is a Rome police lieutenant, stepped up to the task. “Josh has come over for the last five years and helped me with the tree,” Kim says. “He and his mom are like family to us and it’s a special time every year when he comes to do the tree.”
The finished look of the house is, overall, that of a traditional Christmas, but an updated version of it. The real challenge was in taking all the Christmas décor the family had collected over so many years and transferring them into a home with a completely different style. Their previous home had a rustic vibe, with lots of natural wood and stone. “It’s been fun picking things, weeding through them,” Kim says.
Many of the tree ornaments they used have lots of sentimental value, like the ones made by their children and others crafted by local artisans. One ornament, a little cherub, was given to Kim by the family of one of her ICU patients. “The patient, unfortunately, didn’t get to go home from the hospital,” she says, “and the family gave me the ornament. It’s a treasure that I hang on our tree every year.”
Now the stage is set at the home on Horseleg Creek Road for its first Mauer family Christmas. It is their hope that this holiday here will be followed by many to come. “To me, this house is all about family and friends,” Kim says. “That’s what’s most important. When we decorated for Christmas, that’s what we wanted to represent.”