Pat Hathaway was focused on the flower she was painting on her kitchen wall two years ago when a group of strangers walked in on her.
"They had seen the door open and thought we were on a tour," Mrs. Hathaway said.
When she told the women the house was no tour stop, they left - but not without insisting, nicely, that it should be.
Passers-by often stop on Reynolds and 10th streets to snap photos of the two-story, 1873 brick Victorian home, one of four houses known around Augusta as the "Four Sisters."
The town homes have survived fire and flood. Mr. Hathaway "wanted to save something of (old) Augusta," she said.
The owners completed restoration on the 3-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath home last year. "He has done a wonderful job and I want him to take the glory of it all," she said of her husband.
Mr. Hathaway was a bachelor when he started the project after buying the more-than-3,000-square-foot home in 1994. It became a joint effort after the Hathaways wed in 1999.
"When we married, we still had one room to do," Mrs. Hathaway said.
The house is built on a center-hall plan. Ceilings are 11 feet high and major rooms measure 16 feet by 16 feet. Walls are 16 inches thick.
Mr. Hathaway tore out interior walls to the brick exterior, salvaging heart-pine flooring, molding and interior doors. He upgraded wiring, added central air and installed transom doors. Most of the window glass is original.
"People think all this molding was here," Mrs. Hathaway said. But, except for molding around the windows and crown-dentil molding in the living room, everything is new.
The former sleeping porches, upstairs and down, have been converted into living space. On the first floor, the space is now used for the kitchen, laundry room and a half bath. On the second floor, the area serves as a dressing room and a full bath.
Mr. Hathaway used layers of drywall to create multi-level tray ceilings and to enhance fireplaces. Every ceiling and every fireplace has a different treatment.
In the first-floor family room, he created the illusion of tile on walls below the chair rail by mounting 1/4-inch plywood, scored in a block pattern. The design is made by cutting a 1/8-inch groove in the wood. His wife accented the tile look with gold paint.
The couple paired their creativity to dress-up an upstairs bathroom. Mr. Hathaway built a wooden pedestal for the bathroom, then surrounded the bowl with a counter, topped with ceramic tile. She used a china-painting technique to decorate the bowl with flowers.
Mrs. Hathaway, who worked for 30 years in retail, regularly scouts antiques stores along Broad Street for furnishings. She has found new upholstery, and a touch of gold leaf can bring threadbare items back to life, she said.
She mixes period pieces with contemporary ones. "I didn't want to go too heavy with the Victorian," she said.
Outside, Mr. Hathaway, owner of an Augusta metal fabrication company, Hathaway Corporation, maximized the small lot by planting it lavishly with lilies, daffodils and hyacinths - about 350 bulbs, counting the back and front yards.
Butterflies and birds have discovered the urban oasis where roses also bloom.
"People are quite surprised when they see it," Mrs. Hathaway said. "We are also growing tomatoes and cucumbers."
The Hathaways relish their urban environment where they can stroll to the Riverwalk or visit nearby museums. "We call it the 'cultural corridor,"' she said.
They have grown comfortable with the urban landscape. Once, when Mrs. Hathaway found someone picking her flowers to sell downtown for money, she made him a deal.
"I will give you money not to pick the flowers," she said.
THE FAMILY: The Hathaways, B.J. and Pat
THE HOME: An 1873 Victorian brick town home in historic district on Reynolds Street
THE BASICS: 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, family room spread over more than 3,000 square feet. House is on a city lot with fenced garden in the back
IT'S A FACT: After surviving fire and flood, the house was in such disrepair in 1994, that Mr. Hathaway tore interior walls back to the brick. He managed to salvage heart pine flooring, molding, doors and window glass.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.