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The Converse Family at Oakleigh Drive

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By Sadie Fowler; Photos by Erin Kosko

When Mark and Jill Converse set out on a quest to find their family’s next home, they knew as soon as they walked through the doors of 2273 Oakleigh Drive that their search was over.

They had been looking for a large home with a floor plan that was suitable for their family’s ever-changing needs, which includes girls who are approaching their teenage years.

“We immediately fell in love with everything about this house,” said Jill, a nurse by trade who has exchanged her day job for being a full-time mom to her growing girls. “The architecture fit with our love of all things French.”

In addition to that, Jill said it was obvious that the home, built in 1999, was well-constructed; it also sat on a beautiful lot in a fabulous neighborhood.

“The house has really good bones and was obviously built with love and great attention to detail,” Jill said. “It was also in a neighborhood we really like and where we had friends and lots of kids the same ages as our girls.”

Sold … In January of 2018 the Converse family had their new home.

Upon purchasing the home, the Converses knew they had their work cut out for them. As lovely as the home was, they needed to cater it to their needs, and so began the renovation project. It was all led by Lori Sain Smith.

“We knew we just needed to make some changes to give it our own personality and it would be perfect,” Jill said.

The Converse family consists of Jill and Mark, of course, and their daughters, Chloe, who is 11, and Caroline, who is nine. Mark is an ear, nose and throat doctor in Murfreesboro. He is also an athlete, currently in training for his first triathlon.

In addition to caring for the girls, Jill is an active member of the community and also enjoys staying physically fit. She loves to run, and also enjoys cooking and spending time with her friends.

The girls, both students at the Middle Tennessee Christian Academy, are as active as one would imagine, given their young ages. Chloe loves basketball, tennis and hip hop dancing while Caroline also enjoys dancing in addition to playing the guitar. She also loves animals.

“As a family, we enjoy movies, traveling and spending time at the lake,” said Jill, adding that the location of their home was a big factor for them in that they needed it to be in a convenient area conducive to their busy lifestyles. “It’s a convenient drive to MTCS, where the girls are receiving a great education. Our family attends World Outreach Church right here in Murfreesboro and we are so thankful to have such a great church nearby.”

The Converse family is indeed active and stays busy and on the go, but they also love entertaining. Hosting friends, church Bible studies and even larger events such as this year’s Charity Circle Patron’s Party are a welcome part of what makes the family tick.

Back to the beginning, when the Converse family purchased the home last January, Jill, right away, solicited the help of her friend Lori Sain Smith, who had also loved the house and given her thumbs up to go forward with the purchase. She especially loved its French style.

One of Jill’s favorite things about her designer friend’s skill was that she was able to incorporate meaningful memories and special pieces from their past into the new plan for the home.

Mark and Jill had collected several pieces of French antique furniture, art and keepsakes from their travels, for example.

“Lori was brilliant at helping us incorporate all of our existing pieces with updated pieces to create what she calls a transitional style,” Jill said. “I call it traditional with a modern twist.”

In addition to visualizing the perfect end result from day one, Smith helped Jill and Mark with colors, drapes, fabrics, new countertops, tile and very cool wall coverings.

“I was my own contractor and with Lori’s help we found subs to help renovate the kitchen and two of the bathrooms as well as a host of builtins, new lighting, carpets, paint, and a home technology system,” Jill said.

“The kitchen was the biggest project but also the most rewarding as that is the hub of the house and the place we spend the majority of our time together as a family.”

Throughout the process, there were many interesting projects and Jill and Mark definitely found pleasure in seeing the transformation unfold, perhaps nowhere more so than in the wine room.

“We have collected wines from traveling and had always wanted a room to host our collection,” Jill said. “Mark sketched the blueprints for the room and Lori and Henry’s Cabinets made it work in a unique space. It is one-of-a-kind and a fun room to entertain in.”

There were countless learning opportunities throughout the entire remodel. In addition to learning handy skills about the nuts and bolts of such a project (the construction part itself) Mark and Jill learned things about the house that made it all even more special.

“One fascinating thing we found while renovating was that there were Bible verses on all of the studs and subfloors,” Jill said.

“It reaffirmed to us that this was the house for us. We know it has been loved and will continue to be loved by us for many years.”

While there were many fun and exciting moments as well as learning opportunities, there were also challenges that came with the remodeling of the Converse family’s new home on the cul de sac on Oakleigh Drive. For Jill, the hardest part was simply keeping up with everything, such as all the subs used for various projects.

“I kept a lot of lists and marked things off one at a time,” Jill said. “I learned that anything can be fixed and there was never actually cause to panic. It took a lot of patience with the process but it was well worth it. I also made a lot of friends along the way.”

Looking ahead, the Converses are excited about another project in the works, which will come in very handy this spring and summer.

They are in the process of adding a swimming pool by Bonzai Bob and landscaping to the back yard.

“We look forward to the completion of that part of the project in time for warm weather,” she said. Before that day comes, however, there’s another very special something that’s set to take place in the Converse home. Jill says they are thrilled to have been asked to host the Charity Circle Patron’s Party on Saturday, April 13.

“We are excited to open our home to such a worthy cause,” Jill said. “One hundred percent of the Charity Circle’s proceeds go back into the community for food, clothing, medicine and shelter and donations have been matched by the Christy Houston Foundation for several years.”

On behalf of the entire family, Jill says they feel honored to be a part of such a generous organization — one that has been giving back to the community since 1910.

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