The Herald Bulletin

June 30, 2013

Working to make beauty again

By Emma Bowen Meyer For The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Having admired its architecture even as a youth, Phil Miller finally purchased the perfect residence – only a few doors down from his childhood home – 14 years ago. Although he has lived in Michigan and south Edgewood, his life has come full circle and he is almost back to his beginnings.

“I never really got far in life,” said Phil with a laugh. “I made it about a quarter-mile from where I started. But I’m glad to be back here. I used to shovel the drive for Mrs. Stewart when she lived here.”

Phil and his wife, Holly, are only the second owners of the residence built in 1936. Byron and Geneva Stewart had the home designed from a picture she found in a magazine. As the general manager of Guide, Byron was well-known in the community. When they purchased the property, the area was completely wooded.

Phil’s love for this charming house did not, however, extend to Holly — at first.

The couple’s desire was to downsize and the square footage of this property did not fit the bill. Also, as Geneva went into her 90s, she did not continue to renovate.

“She did a wonderful job designing this house and it was well cared for,” said Holly, who works from home for several publications. “She loved this house and it showed. But it was dated and time for a lot of changes.”

Changes began with a complete kitchen renovation, where they took the room down to the studs.

Even though they were rushed for time, they chose exquisite cabinets that match the flavor of the home. Along with other updates, they converted attic space into Holly’s office.

“We’ve had fun,” said Holly. “There is always a project in an older home.”

Not only have they updated the interior, but the Millers decided to complete the Master Gardener program in 2010 and have spruced up the yard as well. They were even featured on the tour last Saturday.

“One of the interesting things about this yard is that it is so shady,” said Holly. “You are limited as to what plants will do well. The Master Gardener program was on my bucket list. After he retired, we decided to do it together.”

“It’s fun to work with the plants,” said Phil, retired from American Playground. “It’s creative and when you retire you need a passion of some kind.”

To receive credit for the program, each participant must plan a project that meets certain criteria. Phil and Holly wanted to work together, so their professor insisted their project be substantial. They transformed a nearby cul-de-sac that was ragged and forlorn into a beautiful oasis.

“Neighbors we didn’t know very well stopped to say how very pleased they were,” said Holly. “Someone brought a hasta, someone else brought a fern, and some have helped spread mulch and weed.”

“When you work to make things beautiful, it’s contagious,” said Phil.

Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an e-mail to

Break-out box (0103):After Holly Miller's mother passed away unexpectedly, she used a small piece of her inheritance to create this garden. Previously she could get nothing to grow in this area and knew she needed professional help. "I wanted to do something with the money that would matter and bring her to my mind often," said Holly. "So I hired Greg Actis (landscape architect) to build this and he did a great job."