Originally created 01/13/02

Today's home



Years ago, Steve Arnold would have had "second-hand, flea-market stuff" furnishing his North Augusta home.

Now, it's considered "eclectic," he says with a laugh.

"People walk into the house and say, 'Your wife's done a lovely job,' and I have to tell them, 'No, I don't have a wife.'

"'Girlfriend?'

"'Widowed?'

"'Divorced?'

"'It's just you?"' he said, imitating the increasing incredulity in visitors' voices. "I basically picked up what I liked here and there, and I did what I wanted to do."

Pieces picked up here and there include antiques such as the 1840s Empire sofa in the living room. Japanese prints and fans hang on the walls, while Japanese porcelain dishes and figurines, painted in delicate brush strokes, round out the Oriental theme. Many of the pieces he brought back from Japan, where he served for five years while in the Navy.

A bedroom at one end of the house has been converted into a formal dining room. A dining room and a big kitchen were two of the requirements he sought in a home. Formal window treatments drape both of the windows in the dining room, adding solemn grace to the setting. Shelves hold more porcelain Japanese figures, but the Oriental-style vase on the floor by the doorway is a piece Mr. Arnold found in Augusta.

The doors of the closet open to reveal an extensive collection of bottles and other items Mr. Arnold has pulled out of the Savannah River on his regular diving expeditions. The oldest bottles date to about 1780. A Revolutionary War-era anchor leans against one wall, and bits of prehistoric Indian pottery round out the collection.

At the other end of the house, the master bedroom has a distinct nautical flavor. A framed collection of antique post cards of steamships hangs on the wall, overlooking a writing desk, a marble-topped dresser and the quilt-covered bed. He pulls out a collection of tiny souvenir spoons from steamships, including the H.M.S. Celtic, a sister ship to the Titanic, and the U.S.S. Caledonia, which was converted into a troop ship.

Mr. Arnold, 37, looked for a year and a half before finding the modest, 1,400-square-foot ranch home in an area originally developed for Savannah River Plant employees in the 1950s. When he found the Wren Road house, he bought it immediately.

The house remains a work in progress. A short hallway leading to the kitchen has had shelves installed to hold books and videotapes, but Mr. Arnold is planning built-in shelves for the area. And he's always adding to his collections.

"I just like to collect stuff," he said, laughing again. "One day I'll find someone to marry who will put up with all this junk."

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To suggest a house for a Today's Home profile, contact Elizabeth Adams at 823-3348 or eadams@augustachronicle.com.Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com