Bachelor Builder’s Dream House

By STEVE KAUFMAN
Contributing Writer

James Gregg lives alone in a roughly 6,500-square-foot home with five bedrooms and bathrooms.

He has a huge, well-equipped kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, but he doesn’t know how to cook.

He has an oversize three-car garage for his one car.

He has a huge workout room in the basement, but also an elevator to take him from the basement to the second floor.

If this paints a picture of self-indulgence, it’s a false picture.

Actually, Gregg is a home-builder (Gregg Custom Building) who builds a new home for himself every couple of years, lives in it and then sells it. So while he’s living in each new home, he’s constantly testing various floor plans, amenities and new technology.

Are they necessary? Worth the money? Do they appreciably add to the home’s market value?

It’s a great way, he says, to become knowledgeable for his clients.

“When I host a Super Bowl party, I’m always watching to determine the amount of room in the kitchen, whether there’s an efficient flow of traffic, whether there’s enough room for the seating I need.”

You might say Gregg is always working while he’s living, except he says, “if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life.”

And, he says, it’s great to “live in your artwork.”

He moved into this two-story, red brick Classical Vernacular home in one of the newest sections of Norton Commons about two years ago.

He loves the urban lifestyle of Norton Commons, and especially the big park right across the street. So much so, that he designed his living quarters with big windows and great park views.

He’s a fan of angles and curves, so he and architect Dan Fultz built a house of sloped ceilings, curved archways and rounded walls, starting right at the dramatic entrance to the house. To the right of the foyer as you enter is a dramatic, curved floor-through reading room with a wrought iron lantern hanging from the 18-foot-high ceiling.

Gregg’s floorplan is full of long views. Because of the open space, unbroken by many interior walls, Gregg leans to a neutral palette and admits he’s an earth tone kind of guy. Much of the house is Porter Paints’ Golden Ecru, which he balances in certain places with a darker coffee-colored wall paint or sage green.

This allows him to reuse furniture from house to house. His interior designer, Donna Outlaw of Dwellings, makes sure he’s always current, however, and that his furniture and accessories match each new space.

The sightline into the house is a straight hardwood path to the rear, giving the house the expansive look and feel Gregg wanted.

Along this midway is his big, long open kitchen and informal eating area, about 30 feet wide and equipped with a large curved bar with a black granite top. The counters have a Portofino Gold granite top.

This is a modern, well-equipped kitchen. Gregg is especially in love of his 48-inch G.E. Monogram refrigerator. But he sheepishly admits he doesn’t cook.

“Every time I build a house, I do so with the idea that I’ll learn to cook,” the bachelor says. “But I also set it up conveniently, for other people who like to cook.”

Across from the kitchen is a wide-open great room, with a fireplace and doors to a cozy New Orleans-style courtyard, where he has a fireplace and cook stove built into one of the red brick courtyard walls.

“I tend to build my homes for family gatherings and large events: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Super Bowl, etc.,” Gregg says. “So I like to have a good bar area, a big breakfast area, lots of comfortable seating, lots of accessible TVs, whether people are sitting, eating, sleeping, relaxing.” He has about 12-14 TVs throughout the house – in the bathrooms, too.

Upstairs, he has customized his master suite with two large walk-in closets and a state-of-the-art marble bathroom that includes a curbless walk-in marble shower stall with three different shower heads (rainwater, spray jet and standard) and a Bain Ultra jetted bathtub that pumps air instead of water and has a digital control with several settings.

He’s very comfortable here – who wouldn’t be? – but he’s also confident it will sell when he’s ready to move on. “You can fill a house with gadgets and gizmos,” he says, “but kitchens and bathrooms are what sell the house.”

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune