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Ultimate Southern Home

The ultimate Southern home: Brother-sister builders make a dream almost reality in West U

The ultimate Southern home: Brother-sister builders make dream reality

A house isn't a home unless you feel as though you could drop your everyday stuff on the floor, sink into a comfy couch and cozy up with family.

Southern living, after all, is about comfort, about the ability to entertain a small group of friends and a large rowdy crowd in the same space. Southern living means being able to enjoy a relaxed tête-à-tête in an intimate space and casual impromptu gatherings with unexpected guests.

The front door is always open.

It's with this in mind that siblings Sarah Lavine-Kass and Benjamin Lavine, owners of Stone Acorn Builders, set out to design their Southern Living Showcase Home, located in West University at 2718 Talbott St. Themed "Home for the Holidays," the 4,300-square-foot, four bedroom, four bathroom, two-story charmer — open for tours on the first two weekends in November — speaks to one of the builders' favorite aesthetics: The concept of an old-new home.

"What we see a lot in our business now is that people are not as interested in formal living and dining rooms," Lavine-Kass says. "We really like the idea of a home where every bit of space is usable — both in the first and second floors."

The floor plan, approved by Southern Living magazine, begins with a two-story foyer graced by stained beams and painted millwork, leading toward a long hallway that accesses a library with a full bathroom — which may function as a second bedroom downstairs — before reaching the family gathering area that's open to the dining room and an impressive kitchen with a butler's pantry.

 "We really like the idea of a home where every bit of space is usable."

As for entertaining indoors and outdoors, a fabulous al fresco area with stone fireplace and summer kitchen has electronic screens that descend to create a charming sunroom. What's killer is the wall of exterior French doors that fold out of the way completely to render the lanai and the indoor public areas as one expansive party pad.

Designed for a retired army general and a charming dame of a missus who's quite the cook, the decor mixes one-of-a-kind finds from Carl Moore Antiques, a stunning antique farmhouse dining table and repurposed materials sourced from military miscellanea, such as the boy's room headboard that's crafted from old wood slats taken from a vintage army truck.

There's a catch, though — this family doesn't exist.

Designer Edwina Vidosh of Edwina Alexis Interiors imagined a client profile in order to help her weave a fanciful story line when choosing decor elements. Paintings nod to the fictional family's travels, and handmade holiday ornaments appear as though they were collected heirlooms. In contrast, industrial items such as task lighting fixtures and rustic touches such as a barn door on an iron track update the aesthetic to reflect today's interpretation of Southern lifestyle.

"The antiques, warm and special family heirlooms, truly represent the generational aspect of Southern life," Vidosh says. "But, as we all know, Southern living is all about entertaining, so I wanted to include modern items that make the home very livable."

Proceeds from the $10 admission benefit Operational Finally Home, a nonprofit that builds and donates mortgage-free homes for injured veterans and their families. In addition to the home being open for touring, a myriad activities aim to entice visitors, including cookie decorating demonstrations, champagne and chocolate tastings, craft beer tastings, chef demonstrations and flower and centerpiece crafting workshops (see the complete schedule here).

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Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home, located at 2718 Talbott St., is open on Sunday and Nov. 8 and 9, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home
The Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living Showcase Home is located in West University at 2718 Talbott St. Photo by Joel Luks
Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home
The family gathering is open to the dining room and an impressive kitchen with butler's pantry. Photo by Joel Luks
Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home
Sarah Lavine-Kass, left, with Edwina Vidosh and Benjamin Lavine. Photo by Joel Luks
Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home
Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home
Stone Acorn Builders' Southern Living "Home for the Holidays" Showcase Home