House of memories
Published 10:52 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018
When it was time to begin life on her own, Lindsey Gay Koestler moved into her grandparents’ home in the Openwood subdivision.
Prior to that she had been living with her parents, Koestler said. “But as my father put it, ‘It’s time for baby bird to leave the nest,’ so I was sent to live in the house.”
That was in June 2012, shortly after her grandfather had died and left the house vacant.
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Koestler and her husband Chase, who works for Cooper/T. Smith as a property manager and hunting guide in Arkansas, have done some updating since her maternal grandparents, Fred and Marguerite Malik, first built the home. The house was one of the first homes built in the subdivision off Oak Ridge Road.
“My grandparents bought a double lot in Openwood Plantation,” Koestler said. The lot had been adjacent to a country club back then.
Koestler, who works in Clinton for the Mississippi Association of Coaches, where she manages the organizations website and database as well as creates the ad books for the All-Star games, said her grandfather was an avid golfer and this was probably why they chose this neighborhood to live in.
Koestler said her grandmother had seen the plans for the house in a magazine and fell in love with it.
“It was her dream home and they both lived here for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Some updates had been done on the house before Koestler’s grandmother passed away in 2007, which included hardwoods in the master bedroom, the sitting room, and the den. Also, the kitchen and sun porch had been tiled.
“But other than that, the house was exactly the way it was when they moved into it in 1973—shag carpet and all,” Koestler said.
One would think updating the 70s look would be easy, but Koestler said she had a hard time redecorating.
“I found it very hard to make changes to the house for sentimental reasons. I simply could not picture the house or even the way the furniture should be arranged in any way other than how my Mamaw had it, so I lived in the time capsule for about a year,” Koestler said.
In 2013, however, things changed. Koestler’s future husband, as a birthday present, took up the shag carpet in the living room. With the help of friends, he painted and put down new flooring.
“That got the ball rolling,” Koestler said, “and then I started seeing the house in a different way — for what it could be, and thank the Lord Chase is so handy.”
“He also installed gutters, laid new tile in the laundry room, did an overhaul on the yard, and replaced the shag carpet in closets.”
After the couple married in May 2015, Koestler said her husband did not move his belongings into the home right away, due to his work situation. When he did, more remodeling occurred.
“Chase was still working and living on Henderson Island during hunting season, where he was the property manager and hunting guide. But on Christmas Eve of 2015, the river forecast was projecting a massive flood on the island, so it was then that we finally packed up all of his belongings and officially moved his stuff into the house,” Koestler said.
And to accommodate his massive collection of taxidermy and hunting gear, Koestler said her husband and some of his friends had to enclose the garage to house everything.
Before the couple’s son, Charles H. Koestler V or “Bo” was born in December 2016, Koestler said she and her husband knew that more renovations to the home needed to be done. Since it was during the middle of hunting season, which is a busy time of the year for a hunting guide, the couple decided to contract out the work.
“It was time to tackle the shag carpet and wallpaper upstairs, so we had the whole upstairs painted and new oak floors installed,” Koestler said.
“I think my grandparents would be thrilled with what we have done. I think of them during every project.”
Even though there have been updates and changes made to the home, Koestler said much of her grandparents’ original décor is still in the house.
“We still have their light fixtures and drapes in the formal living room. I couldn’t bear the thought of them sitting in a dump,” she said.
One of the couple’s favorite features of their home, Koestler said, is the outdoor space.
“We love living on the lake and have really enjoyed our yard. Before Bo was born, I spent most of my free time outside working in the yard — it was a love/hate relationship. My grandmother was a master gardener and bred her own daylilies. She had flower beds everywhere,” Koestler said.
After her grandmother passed away, Koestler said many of the flower beds fell into a state of disrepair.
“We spent our first years hauling away rotting timbers and trying to get the yard manageable,” she said, and added that her grandmother had also had a fenced “secret garden” that needed attention.
“By the time I moved in, the roses (in the secret garden) were pitiful, the fence needed to be replaced and the garden was filled with leaves,” Koestler said.
And since the area was not draining properly, Koestler said her husband removed the bed as it was and her friend, Michele Harris, came up with the current design.
“We spent a few days removing the cast iron plant and monkey grass and digging up the flagstone from a dilapidated bed in the backyard,” Koestler said.
“This area has most certainly been my favorite transformation and my grandmother’s fountain is the icing on the cake,” Koestler said.
Even with all of the renovations, Koestler still recalls wonderful memories of her grandparents’ home — especially of the sun porch, where she and her sister and cousins spent hours playing together.
“The cabinets out there were filled to the brim with Barbies and Polly Pockets,” she said.
Koestler said the only way to describe living in her grandparents’ house, is that “it has been a blessing.”
“I have a really hard time with change,” Koestler said. “This was the perfect first home for our family because it already was ‘home.’”