By Hollie Deese | Photography by William DeShazer
Andy Legate and his wife, Wanda, had just gone through a major renovation on their home and were ready to relax and enjoy when life threw them a curveball.
“We were already in our forever home,” Wanda says, laughing. “But then we went to this land auction, and I realized I was going to be doing this all over again.”
Andy, a Greenbriar native and owner of Springfield Steel, says he only intended to see who was buying the land around them. After all, a big development would have them considering moving to a place less crowded.
But it was the mindset of keeping development from encroaching on his own backyard that inspired him and a friend to go in on the land together. That day. Basically, on a whim.
“I had no intentions of buying anything,” swears Andy, who ended up going in on 60 acres that day. “But when we got there, it was a big old farm. And I said, ‘Well, let’s get a number together.’ So we bid on it and wound up with it.”
Andy took 33 acres, and his bidding partner took 24. And pretty soon he and Wanda began the process of building again. So in the spirit of community they turned to local resources to help create a forever home — one last time.
“We live in our space,” Andy says. “I don’t like to go so far out as to say that you’re not scared to get the floor dirty when you walk in, but I don’t feel like you’re in a made-up space where you can’t touch anything.”
Steve Stringer, a longtime custom home builder that Andy met on an earlier project, was chosen to create the space, and designer Shaun Dougherty of SDI Designs was selected to help push them out of their comfort zone — while keeping all the comforts of home.
“She just really did a great job of listening to me, and also bringing me out of my comfort zone and getting me to look at things a little differently, which was great,” Wanda says.
Dougherty, who began her career at Renaissance Tile and Bath before working at Marc-Michaels Interior Design in Florida, loves to take risks with design, but she knows how to make them work in a traditional space.
“I like to have fun,” Dougherty says. “I want the process to be fun. I bring a lot of humor, and I make it very relaxed. I don’t try to make it so serious because it is one of the three major things in your life — you get married, you have babies, you build a house.”
Dougherty made sure each room had unique touches, whether those were millwork, a simple furniture piece, a piece of art … there was a piece in every room that was special to Andy and Wanda that was also a bit unexpected.
Wanda’s office is a perfect example of that, especially since she never had her own home office.
“I’m not sitting at the dining room table, I’m not sitting at the bar,” she says. “I have a place. I am part owner in the business, and just having that workspace is, honestly, it’s been so good.”
Dougherty made it even more special by gifting her with something to remind her how truly unique Wanda is: a neon sign behind the desk that says “What the hell.” It’s a phrase Wanda is known to say and an attitude Dougherty wants her to always embrace.
And she didn’t leave Andy out, gifting him a piece of art of one of his favorite cars, a Chevrolet SS, framed and hanging in the powder room.
“I really pulled Wanda out of her box,” Dougherty says. “She never thought in a million years that she would have a house like this, and it is beyond anything she ever would have ever done for herself. She put every ounce of trust into me and never said no to anything.”
The area Andy and Wanda agree is their favorite is the main living space, which includes the kitchen, living room and dining rooms and is, in itself, 1,200 square feet.
“We love that everybody can be in the same room together,” Wanda says.
And between weekly grandkid visits and long workdays, the comfort they find within the walls is what the Legates love best. What Dougherty achieved definitely feels like them.
“I want the design to reflect who you are and who your family is, what your lifestyle is,” Dougherty says. “I don’t necessarily go with trends because, at the end of the day, you are living in your space and you want it to feel like you.”