During the nine-month building process, Debbie and Billy Real took joy in watching their dream house grow. Even before the walls were up, it felt like home to them.
"When we broke ground, that was it," Mrs. Real said. "This was our home from then on."
During construction, Mrs. Real walked through the skeleton of two-by-fours and wrote verses of Scripture in each of the would-be rooms.
"So every room has a promise, a blessing for the room and those who would be in it," Mrs. Real said.
Dr. and Mrs. Real and their daughters, Tristen, 3, and Shelby, 9, chose the house plan - a Southern Living design - but made some changes to the layout to suit their needs.
They expanded the downstairs master bedroom and bath and converted attic space into a fourth bath and a fifth bedroom. The result is 5,000 square feet of open and inviting family space.
The fifth bedroom has mossy-green walls and serves as a guest room, although Mrs. Real uses it as a quiet escape on occasion.
The extra bed and bath made for special holiday memories for the Reals' first Christmas in their new home. Mrs. Real said it was the first Christmas they had enough room for the grandparents to sleep over and be there in the morning with the girls.
The house is in the Barrington subdivision off Stevens Creek Road in Columbia County. It has a traditional exterior of stucco and stone.
An antique-brass chandelier and a grandfather clock in the grand foyer welcome visitors to the home. The foyer is open all the way up to the second floor. A balcony overlooks the entrance's oak staircase and flooring.
The dining room, which is just to the left of the entrance, sets the tone for the rest of the home. Rich, earthy tones - reds, dark greens and neutral colors - give warmth to the walls surrounding the 10- to 12-person dining table.
"We love to entertain, so we needed a big table," Mrs. Real said.
The living room uses different hues of the same colors and ivy-green walls climb past the balcony. The furniture is a mixture of pieces bought by Dr. and Mrs. Real during their 12 years of marriage and items inherited from Mrs. Real's grandmother.
"It's like in every room I have a memory," Mrs. Real said.
The kitchen is open to a dining nook and den that overlook the back yard through a wall of French doors and large windows.
The den is where the family spends the most time together. Rich colors carry over from the dining room, and images of Labrador retrievers sit in every corner of the room, from detailed throw pillows on the couch to artwork above the fireplace - almost a tribute to the family pet, a chocolate Lab named Bo.
Bo can usually be seen in the back yard, which was one of the greatest challenges for the Reals after they moved in.
"For nine months, while we were building, it didn't rain," Mr. Real said. "We were in the middle of a drought."
After the first rain, they realized there was a drainage problem. Their solution: a retaining wall to keep the water from their home and to hide drains that reroute the water.
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Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332.