A couple inherits a home in the Heights that they remodeled to suit their growing family and love of entertaining.
Karen and Dave Bonney’s home, like so many in Alamo Heights, is full of family history. The home was built in 1949 by local builder Leland Busby of Busby Building Corporation and was his 30th Anniversary Home. Karen has the newspaper ad that shows the house won first prize in the Better Home and Garden contest.
Karen’s uncle bought the home. He and his wife lived there until he died in 1995, leaving the home as her inheritance. She moved in and began a career as a teacher at Coker Elementary. She taught school at Coker for 29 years, long enough to see her sons grow into young men and leave home.
Along the way, she met Dave and they married. At that time, the house had a much smaller footprint. It was two bedrooms and one bath, with a living room, a sunroom, and the kitchen. When their second son was born, they agreed it was time for a remodel. Fortunately, the large corner lot provided ample space for an addition.
“When we moved in, the house was two bedrooms and two baths. We added a master suite with its own bath and now have 3000 square feet,” says Karen.
The Bonneys love to entertain, and the flow of the home is a high point for Karen. From the front door, guests can circulate through the living and dining rooms, the sunroom and the kitchen. The house is a popular location for family gatherings and charity parties.
Visitors step through the front door into the living room, where Karen’s grandfather’s baby grand sits in the exact spot it has occupied since her uncle moved in. Dave is the musician in the family, and he enjoys playing the heirloom now and then.
The living room demonstrates Karen’s love of a neutral decorating palette. The facing white sofas, chairs and art play off the dark wooden floors. Recessed lighting plays off the gas fireplace. The rug is made of tiny squares of cowhide, painstakingly assembled to look like a tile mosaic.
The dining room furniture of Karen’s childhood finally wore on her nerves.
“I’d had enough of it!” she exclaims. She replaced it with a table that seats ten. But she didn’t stop there. She left the shiplap wainscot but installed wallpaper and new curtains. She sourced the buffet from an antique store on Broadway and found the mirror at a store on Huebner Road. The silver service gracing the buffet belonged to Karen’s great aunt. The chandelier adds sparkle to the pristine space.
The kitchen holds many happy memories from Karen’s childhood, but she’s quick to say that cooking is not her forte. To add prep space, she sourced the island from Armories and Accents. The cabinets are original to the room, as is the porcelain farmhouse sink.
The kitchen has had a minor update. In the remodel, a spacious pantry was created as well as a laundry room for a stackable washer and dryer. Recessed lighting was installed to illuminate dark corners. And while the kitchen is serviceable, Karen has plans to enlarge the space to better accommodate the chef who caters their parties and guests who like to hang out.
The Bonneys added the master suite in 1997. The spacious bedroom features a carved king-size bed from Restoration Hardware with plush bedclothes and deep pillows. A matching dresser, end tables and mirror complete the set. The dresser by the bath is an antique that belonged to her uncle.
The bath and his and hers closets are storage marvels. “Where once we were pressed for places to put things, now we have an abundance of storage,” Karen says. Floor to ceiling cabinets line the wall beside the shower; across the room, vanity cabinet support his and hers sinks. The corner soaking tub is Karen’s haven at the end of a busy day.
But it is her closet that makes her happiest. She called California Closets to arrange the custom shelving. Where once clothes were crammed in with shoes and purses, rods are now mixed among shoe cabinets with glass doors, special drawers for purses and a cabinet for boots and coats. A small chandelier lights the hats displayed as though perched in the finest haberdashery.
Karen says her inheritance has served the family well. “We love this house,” she says. “I know other people in the neighborhood have sold their homes and moved north of town, but I’ll never leave,” she says. “It’s just right for us!”
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The living room looks a little different now that it did when the house belonged to Karen’s relatives. New paint has been applied and new furniture installed but the memories of sitting on the floor reading or listening to family discussions remain.
The antique baby grand piano in the living room is a family heirloom Dave uses frequently when the family entertains. The home has always been a focal point for family gatherings.
Unlike many homes, the formal dining room is the Bonney home sees frequent use. Karen and Dave host catered business dinners in the elegant space.
Karen is the first to say she’s not the cook in the family but she has fond childhood memories of meals served from this kitchen. The cabinets and sink are original to the home, built in the late 1940s.
The master suite was part of a renovation that created a private haven for the homeowners. The birth of a second son prompted the expansion, which added a much-needed bedroom, spacious bath and walk-in closets.
BY ROBYN BARNES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY AL RENDON