SHaron and John Hemphill are no strangers to the home building process. Having built two houses in the past, they knew exactly what they wanted – and needed – in their new home.
The couple fell in love with the area in 2008 when they downsized to a house just three blocks from their current home. “We were looking for a lot or a teardown in this area for a few years,” John says. “Our search area looked like a postage stamp.”
Sharon found the land in 2018 and John began designing a home to meet their current needs. “Our family had changed – we now have grandchildren, so we needed a comfortable space for our whole family,” says Sharon.
With their previous builds, the Hemphills had worked exclusively with one builder and one contractor, but a friend recommended they meet Jason Gibsonlead architect and owner of Align Design Group, for this project.
“John approached us with a plan that he and his wife had drawn up themselves,” Gibson says. “It was one of the best-drafted plans I have ever received from a client.” The Gibson team at Align took it from there and put everything together beyond that point.
Sharon wanted the space to look like a Parisian apartment and came to their first meeting with a book of inspirational pictures, several of which she had taken herself while traveling. “The challenge was to accept this design request, while making the house feel like it fit in with Tulsa,” says Gibson.
To realize Sharon’s vision, Gibson and his team added architectural elements such as window proportion and repetition, high ceilings, Juliet balconies, extensive finishing work, and a dramatic marble staircase.
It was important to Gibson and the Hemphills to ensure that the house fit within the context of the historic district. “We wanted to show Midtown that you can come in and build a new house from scratch, and it doesn’t have to be the biggest box you can build on the site,” says Gibson.
It was also important to be respectful of the street.
“This neighborhood has a lot of walkers, so we wanted it to be more than just a blank wall,” Gibson says of the project, which ended in 2020. Therefore, Gibson deliberately repositioned the house beyond that. the zoning boundary requires so that it matches other historic homes in the area. A large porch and landscaping make the house more inviting.
Inside the house, abundant natural light was a major request. The Hemphills also wanted an outdoor living space next to the main living and cooking space. This posed a problem for Gibson and his team because covered exterior structures can block light from entering the interior of the house, he says. The solution: Add an extra-wide skylight in the exterior living structure so that the doors in the main living area bring in more daylight. He then suggested a light-colored paver for the exterior flooring to reflect light into the house, especially in winter.
The house also has a skylight in Sharon’s closet – perhaps her favorite space. “I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and knew what I wanted,” she says. Two big wardrobe requirements were a place for everything and glass doors to keep clothes from getting dusty. “It has the feel of an upscale retail store,” says Gibson. “It’s almost like going shopping in Paris.”
The closet isn’t the only room Sharon has worked in – she worked closely with the team to choose all of the design selections, including the herringbone white oak flooring, which she says is reminiscent of a Parisian apartment. “We appreciate the way Jason (and his team) have been able to marry French flair with contemporary flair in our home.”
One thing Sharon didn’t want in their main living space was a television. But Gibson had a solution for that too.
“They’re not one to watch TV over the fireplace, but the best option with the furniture they chose was to put the TV over the fireplace,” says Gibson. The architect worked with Video Revolution to install a drop-down screen built into the ceiling above the fireplace with a projector that also descends from further into the room. “It got me to a 100 inch screen,” says John. “It’s absolutely fantastic.”
Gibson is quick to give Hemphill credit for much of the house’s design, and John says the architect met and then exceeded his expectations. “What they were able to accomplish for us was amazing,” he says. “We love the house.”