The Herald Bulletin

October 5, 2013

Love at first sight

Connells sees past cosmetic issues to get dream home

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — When Michelle Connell first stepped foot in her prospective home, nothing was cosmetically to her liking – but she fell in love anyway. Seeing past the color schemes, the wallpaper and the accents, she looked to the bones of the house and bought it immediately.

“I already had it redecorated in my head,” said Michelle, clinical liaison for Countryside Manor and Rawlins House. “I knew what I could do with it. We totally gutted it and put in all new carpet, paint, light fixtures, tile and a furnace.”

Not only does Michelle have a natural flair for decorating, she and her husband, John, had renovated four other houses together. With that much practice, her honed eye saw the finished product long before her loved ones did.

“My friends came over and looked around and asked if I knew what I was doing,” she said with a laugh. “As soon as I stepped into the family room, I could see what I wanted it to be. I’m all about light and there was so much light coming into this room.”

Helping her achieve her vision, John is capable of tackling most of the skilled jobs needed to transform the space into a dream.

“He does all the electrical work and installs tile perfectly,” said Michelle. “He can do about anything. He even made the leaded glass in the front door. That’s one of the first things we did in every house – trade out the steel front door for a wooden one with glass.”

John’s beautiful artwork greets visitors at the entrance and then continues to follow them throughout the home. His attention to detail is striking and evident in all his additions.

“My favorite project is laying ceramic tile,” said John, recently retired as fleet manager for Anderson City Garage. This work, added to his years as a firefighter and a policeman, tallies 39 years working for the city. “Tiling is the hardest job to do but very satisfying.”

One of the biggest draws of the home was the kid-friendly atmosphere. The couple was living near the river in seclusion when Michelle heard a neighborhood calling her name.

“We had a creek in the front yard – and an artesian spring,” said John. “We were close to the river and saw wildlife every day.”

“It was a bi-level and not conducive to kids,” said Michelle, mentioning their eight grandchildren are all under the age of 12. “I wanted a one-story house with a flat, fenced-in yard in a neighborhood. I have all the holidays and birthday parties here. We get 20 to 25 people over for get-togethers.”

Fitting the bill completely is the perfect yard for kids. The Connells even erected a swing set to add to the fun. Adults sit under the covered porch and relax – knowing a fence will keep little feet from wandering away.

“I love this covered porch,” said Michelle. “We live out here. I can’t tell you the hours we have sat out here and watched the kids run.”

The back yard is also the home of a lush red raspberry bush that results in a number of pies baked by John. More so now that he is retired.

“He is a wonderful cook,” said Michelle, also praising him for his apple pie.

Although the couple has enjoyed their days of renovating houses, they are ready to stop and simply settle in. Happy in their finished home, their plans are to stay.

“I’m over rehabbing,” said Michelle. “It was fun and I enjoyed it, but I’m over that now.”

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 (0248): Prominently displayed in the living room is this painting created by John Connell. After finding a small aged picture of his mother, the artist decided to capture the image in a large painting. A perfect representation, with the addition of soft color, the piece adds art and memory to the room.