Couple update carriage house

Mark and Jan Harper purchased a piece of Aiken history three years ago to make it their home.


"When I saw it, I fell in love," Mrs. Harper said. "I no longer needed the plans for the new house we were planning. I knew that I wanted this to be our next home."

The Harpers' 4,200-square-foot home was built in 1929 as a carriage house and is part of the Aiken Winter Colony Historic District I (also known as the Aiken Horse District), which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Over the years, the carriage house had been converted from a place to keep carriages to a live-in space. When the Harpers bought the house, however, there was still work to be done.

"I've always wanted to renovate a home, but we were never in one place long enough to do so," Mrs. Harper said.

The couple had moved 10 times in 14 years because of her husband's job in the petroleum industry.

"So, this was an opportunity to do what we have always wanted and renovate a house," she said.

The challenge was to preserve the look of the house while making it their own.

"We had to maintain the architectural integrity of the property," Mr. Harper said. "We couldn't -- and we didn't want to -- just come in and change everything."

The couple had to get changes approved by the Aiken County Historical Society, he said. They added a master bedroom, remodeled the kitchen, turned a screened-in porch into a sunroom and converted two stalls in the barn into an Irish-style pub and a wine cellar.

They decorated with pictures of horses and nature and used various colors and patterns to give each room a personality.

Several small courtyards and patios around the house and their pub offer plenty of space for them to entertain.

"We are pretty informal in the way that we entertain," Mr. Harper said. "We want our guests to feel just as comfortable in our home as we are."

The way the couple renovated and decorated emphasizes another element they wanted their house to maintain: a relaxed atmosphere.

"We've made our home a jean house," Mrs. Harper said. "By that, I mean you can wear jeans and boots and not be afraid that you'll feel out of place. When you come in, you can relax because you're at home."

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or


THE FAMILY: Mark and Jan Harper; their 10-year-old Percheron thoroughbred, Whitney; a 5-year-old Irish sport horse, Stout; and a 16-year-old calico cat, Rosalita

THE HOME: 4,200-square-foot carriage house with four bedrooms and three baths. The house and barn are on 2.5 acres.

IT'S A FACT: The carriage house was part of a larger piece of property called Pine Grove. When the Harpers bought the carriage house, the property's name had been changed to Crazy Creek. Mrs. Harper discovered the original name while doing research on the house, and she has restored the original name for the property. Mr. Harper participated in the 2002 Winter Olympics torch run. He ran with the torch that January in Arizona.



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