Family swaps houses, gets just what they want in Olive Branch – The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, USA

Family swaps houses, gets just what they want in Olive Branch – The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, USA
The Barnes family (back row) Colleen, Phillip and Rick, with (front row) twins Derrick and Caitlin, 11, swapped their Collierville home for unique digs in Olive Branch. (Photo By: Nikki Boertman, The Commercial Appeal)

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By Lesley Young, Memphis Commercial Appeal


Sunday, August 16, 2009


With their 22-year-old daughter, 18-year-old son and 11-year-old fraternal twins living in the household, Rick and Colleen Barnes’ four-bedroom home in Collierville started getting cramped.


So Rick and Colleen put their aspiring architect son, Phillip, to work, and for 18 months the University of Memphis-bound student ripped out the kitchen, laid down new floors and refurbished four rooms in the house.


Before Phillip had time to finish, Rick talked to his mortgage broker about refinancing the house, and she suggested it was a good time to buy.


“It was a good time financially, but it also made sense because Phillip was graduating from high school, and the twins had just finished elementary school and would be changing anyway,” said Rick, the director of distribution for Hamilton Beach and a native of Nottingham, England.


They couldn’t find a place they liked in Collierville, and Rick suggested trying Olive Branch, because of its proximity to his work and the comparable schools.


“We were driving down the street looking at another house, and we drove by here and I saw all the trees, and I said, ‘It looks like Gatlinburg,’ ” said Colleen, of the almost 6,000-square-foot modern home surrounded by 3.6 acres of trees. “We got on the Crye-Leike Web site and took the virtual tour, and I just loved it. I said, ‘We have to come out and really look at it.’ ”


When they met with their Crye-Leike real estate agent, Clare Maness, to get a live tour, the idea of a trade came up.


“She knew the people in this house were looking to move back to Collierville and said there was always a chance we could work out a trade,” said Rick, 47.


Not only did they swap houses — the Barnes family paid $457,500 for the five-bedroom, multi-level home with a pool and a three-story sunroom — they also got some of the furniture to go with it.


They purchased two sofas, the chairs in the hearth room and the dining room set. Former owners Karen and Mark Fox also left some of their end tables, wall d?cor and a juke box in the ’50s-style diner Mark had built on the basement level, complete with a neon “Open” sign.


“They couldn’t take it with them,” Rick said.


The size of the house, the pool and the lot size fits the family’s needs. It also keeps them on their toes.


No one room in the house is on the same level as another. To get to any room in the house, the Barnes have to either walk up or down a small set of stairs.


“When I walk out of one bedroom, I can’t remember which way I need to go to get to another,” Colleen said.


“Phillip counted 27 flights of stairs,” Rick added. “They had a hard time appraising it because there’s nothing like it. It’s so unique, you have to really like the house to buy it.”


For the most part the house was move-in ready, but Phillip the aspiring architect, has already made several suggestions, including putting a coffee machine on each of the three balconies in the sunroom overlooking the back yard and pool.


“He wants to pick which floor he has coffee on each morning,” Rick said.


After spending 18 months making improvements on their Collierville home, the family isn’t looking to make any transformations.


“I don’t want to even look at a paint can,” Colleen said.


For now they’re enjoying their new pool table and hosting pool parties for any one of several soccer teams.


“I love this house. It’s like being in the mountains,” Colleen said.