06 August 2015

Ashevillle Citizen-Times


Read the full story in the Citizen -Times

 

Emily Patrick, epatrick@gannett.com 6:23 a.m. EDT August 7, 201


ASHEVILLE – Asheville architect Aaron Wilson typically spends far more than three weeks designing houses, but when the cable network HGTV approached him about plans for a West Asheville bungalow, he jumped at  the chance to get involved with the project. Along with local builder Jody Guokas, he created the HGTV Urban Oasis in about 100 days.


The house, 17 Russell St., serves as the prize of a national sweepstakes and the focus of a TV special on the network.

 
The sweepstakes runs Thursday through Sept. 24 on the network's website, and the TV special premieres at 11 p.m. Monday. Reruns air Aug. 14 and 24 and Sept. 8, 20 and 23 at various hours, although that schedule is subject to change.


Wilson said he frequently renovates bungalows like the 1,300­square­foot house on Russell Street, although not usually with so many intricate design
elements and never on such a tight schedule.


"There are a lot of houses just like that — single­story bungalow with a pitched roof," he said. "This is an update that I think a lot of people are interested in, going from the small enclosed rooms and spaces to a more open floor plan."


Although the renovations were extensive — Guokas estimates 60 percent of the wood in the house is new — the footprint of the house is relatively
unchanged. The team added a garage and a bathroom expansion to the 1920s­style home. They actually reduced the number of bedrooms from three to
two.
The West Asheville property stands out from the other HGTV Urban Oasis projects. The network has been doing this project since 2010, and the other
properties were high­dollar lofts and condos in major metropolitan areas — New York, Chicago, Miami, Boston and Atlanta.


Jack Thomasson, a house planner based in Atlanta, managed the project for HGTV. He said he selected West Asheville for its neighborhood feeling,
even if it is dramatically smaller than past Urban Oasis towns.


"We still consider this a great urban location, like an in­town neighborhood," he said. "One goal in using this house and location is to share all the
wonderful things about this house and the area where it's located."


He said he's proud of the way the house fits in with its surroundings. Details like the pebble dash stucco and shade garden planted with native species fit the character of the neighborhood.


"We wanted to keep the character of the house," he said. "That's why we didn't take the renovation and do something outrageous."


Meredith Sims, who recently moved in next door, said she's curious to see what will happen when the sweepstakes is over and the new owner gets the keys to the house.


"It looks like it fits into the neighborhood," she said. "There's definitely a lot of people driving by."


She said her only concern is that the TV company subdivided the lot. Guokas' company, JAG Green Builders, is advertising a build­to­site opportunity on the unused land. Sims wonders whether the new house will leave room for the large hardwoods that shade the property. Inside, the house has a distinctly contemporary feel. A loft for kids or company is nestled under an eave of the vaulted ceiling, and the windows are expansive. Tile and painted wood paneling (wider and more understated than the 1970s variety) cover the walls, and eclectic lighting fixtures hang from
the high ceilings.


Interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn said the house contains a variety of design elements because he didn't know who he was designing for. "No matter who wins, there's going to be something that appeals to them," he said. "Every room is super eclectic."


His approach is most obvious in the art work that is carefully placed in every room, including the bathrooms. He purchased the pieces in the River Arts
District at five different galleries. Featured local artists include Hannah Dansie, Joanna Maldonado, Mark Bettis, Patricia Cotterill, Phillip Deangelo, Walter Arnold and Josh Copus.

All the contents of the prize package — art, house, furnishings, kitchen accessories, bikes and skateboards in the garage and even the clothes in the
closets — are included in a prize package valued at more than $500,000. A 2016 Acura TLX and $50,000 cash also go to the grand prize winner.
Last year, there were more than 22 million entries in the sweepstakes. Entries are allowed twice a day through Sept. 24, and the network will  announce the winner in fall.


For more information or to enter the sweepstakes, visit hgtv.com/urbanoasis (http://hgtv.com/urbanoasis).

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