TUCKED INTO A quiet place just north of downtown Covington sits a seven-acre haven where the Wischan family has lived for twelve years. Years ago, during a property search, Sydel Wischan accidentally printed the wrong listing and ended up on a wild goose chase driving all around looking for a different property altogether. She and husband Ron ended up finding this piece of property, which is tucked on the banks of the Little Bogue Falaya River, and falling in love with the incredibly rare combination of privacy and convenience that the location had to offer.
Sydel is a woman with a clear vision, and knew exactly what she wanted in the house and outbuildings. The elegantly proportioned front facade and circular fountain give a traditional European appearance to a home that holds a surprisingly contemporary interior. “I really wanted industrial modern, but at that time nobody understood my vision. So I found somebody to draw up exactly what I asked for from my folder of magazine clippings,” she laughs, “and it’s been wonderful raising our family here.”
The home clocks in at around 6,000 square feet in total, with unique features such as roll-up glass doors on the downstairs art room and woodworking shop. Total openness to the outside is achieved this way, so that whomever is working inside these rooms is connected to the family members who are enjoying the beautiful garden and patio space the home has to offer.
With two of their three children being competitive swimmers, the outdoor plaza of the home has served them well over the years. “We’ve spent so many evenings sitting by the pool timing their laps,” she recalls. What pleasant evenings those must have been! The lap pool is half the width
of a regulation Olympic-size pool, and the large deck area surrounding it is more than comfortable for hosting large gatherings, after school events or family weekends. In keeping with the simple color palette and clean contemporary style of the house, the gray-tone slate blends seamlessly and ensures that the landscape remains the star of the show. In addition to the completely separate one-bedroom apartment that adjoins the main house, the pool house also has its own private bedroom that makes for a luxe guest suite when they have overnight visitors.
The river that softly flows next to the property has seen many a canoe and fishing pole tossed in by her son and his friends over the years. The hard edges of the architecture are balanced by the blurred edges of the landscaping, which looks as though it has always naturally grown on its
own. Ron is an avid gardener, to say the least, and almost all of the trellised vines and trees immediately surrounding the home produce food for the family. “He’s so easygoing about my ideas,” says his wife. “One day I said, ‘Let’s make living walls,’ and he said yes!” Now in addition to flowers, they have fragrant fruit trees and vegetables in surprising places. As a gift one year, he planted a garden for Sydel filled with pink and red roses that bloom faithfully every Mother’s Day just outside the kitchen window. Sydel and Ron are both animal lovers and over the years have collected more than one cat and dog to wander around the property.
The concept of open spaces with large-scale dividers flows from the living walls outside into the clean, contemporary interior that has a crisp, gallery-style feeling. The hand-scraped elm floors add warmth to the vast white walls and rough concrete accents. Lighting plays a huge role in this interior, highlighting the sizable artwork that grabs attention yet somehow still finds its place in the background. Much of the artwork is done by Sydel herself, with notable punctuation by a few other distinctive artists. In the area most people would use a formal dining table, they’ve chosen to situate a grand piano that fills the entire home with music. The kitchen is outfitted for serious cooking and they often host casual, but large, family get-togethers with their grown children and grandchildren who also live in the area.
Recently the house and property served as a location set for the upcoming feature film “The Hunt” by Jordan Peele, adding even more panache to the already distinctive abode. As they begin to look at the probability of downsizing for the next phase of their lives, they already know there will be numerous similarities to this place when they make another home wish.