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VIP At Home: The Harbison's

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By Sadie Fowler • Photos by Brian Packard

Carmen and Dan Harbison enjoy life in the fast lane, and that’s why their move downtown a couple years ago was the perfect fit for them. Now newlyweds (they married just last month, in April), the Harbisons are enjoying their bungalow-styled home, built by Kelly Arnold of Gemini Homes in Bowling Green.

“We are very active so we wanted to be downtown,” Carmen said. “We wanted to be a part of all it offers … There are some weekends when we park our cars on Friday and never get in them all weekend. It’s nice to be able to walk and have access to the restaurants and bars downtown, or walk to Starbuck’s or Spencer’s Saturday morning for a cup of coffee.”

The Harbisons lived in the country prior to moving into a different location a couple years ago — another property of theirs, also downtown.

“We moved down here into a duplex two years ago to get our feet wet and we loved it,” said Dan, who serves as president of Farmer’s National Bank.

The move was an easy adjustment, and they love the fact that they have lots more visitors compared to when they lived in the country.

“I’d say the flow of people we have is different,” laughed Carmen. “I guess people think of downtown as more convenient. Even though it might have only been a 10-minute drive ‘into the country’ people think they don’t want to drive far.”

Their new home is modern, neat, efficient, unique — and totally designed to meet their needs. Starting with their bar closet in the kitchen — which is one of their signature parts of the home — all the way back to the garage-turned man cave, the Harbisons have set their home up for a future of simplicity and fun.

Arnold, who build the house with his team at Gemini, said it was a fun and challenging project. He also said there are two going trends he’s seeing a lot of right now. First, people are wanting to be down town. Second, he’s seeing a shift toward smaller homes — less space, more quality.
“I don’t mind the challenge though,” Arnold said, adding he learned a lot about the city’s history during while developing the area. “We started the house as a spec home and Dan bought it when it was in the framing stage. We had planned to have some fun with the house anyway, but then Dan came in and he brought in his ideas. To me, when people are open to being creative that’s when we can have the most fun.”

The Harbisons worked with interior designer Vickey Grimsley in perfecting the home, and also credit Clarissa Smith from Ford’s Furniture for helping furnish it just right. Carmen said the help of experts provided welcomed guidance in selecting colors and pointing out ideas she and Dan might not have thought of on their own.

Carmen researched several websites when deciding what paint to select in her quest to find colors that were relaxing and peaceful, and also relied on tips from the experts. She’s also a fan of the website, which will guide users through the process of furnishing and decorating a home.

Whether inside or outside, guests are sure to find a good time at the Harbison’s. Inside, it might start in the kitchen and end upstairs in the movie room, which includes personal touches such as a chest that once moved across the Atlantic with Carmen’s aunts and also fun “extras,” such as the popcorn machine. Art on the walls is perfectly appropriate to mirror the downtown feel, with one photo of Bowling Green’s old theater serving as a reminder of Dan’s roots. It’s a place at which he once worked; he ran the projector.

Outside, guests often migrate to the screened porch — or better yet, Dan’s man cave.
“The screened porch is our favorite place in the spring and fall,” Carmen said. “People congregate out here, which is nice to not always have to have people in the house.”
The man cave, which is where the garage would be, was intended for exactly what it is — a place where the boys can have fun and not be afraid to spill a beer. His next project might be to add an outdoor kitchen somewhere near the man cave.

Other unique aspects of the house include chain links that replace traditional gutters, chicken wire to cover up certain cabinets, and a hog wire fence up the staircase, another cool idea that came from Vickie.

“Vickie and Clarissa made this whole project,” Dan said. “My advice to anyone embarking on something like this: I would say use an interior designer. Also, do something unique.”

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