Gregory Home on Thursday's Tour
BY MARILYN M. GRUBE
Special to The Pilot
With an American flag proudly waving from the manicured front yard, the home of Frank and ML (short for Mary Louise) Gregory affords a delicious stop on the Kitchens . . . and Moore tour to be held on Thursday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Each home along the tour route will provide a tasting from a local business. The Fresh Market will serve at the village home of Jane and Charlie Jackson; Farm to Table at the home of Marcel and Francoise Trepanier; Green Gate Olive Oil will serve at Al and Sandy Logan's Acorn cottage; the Pik 'n Pig will provide a tasting at the home of Dick and Jann Meadows; and the Bonefish Grill at the Forest Creek home of Ralph and Joanne Wade.
Efficiently organized in Frank and ML Gregory's kitchen, Mark Elliott of Elliott's on Linden and the recently opened Sly Fox will serve a tasting from his repertoire of recipes to the more than 800 visitors expected to pass through the participating homes.
That this spacious and gracious home was built with entertaining in mind is not surprising, since Frank spent 22 years in service with the Navy followed by 21 years as a Navy contractor in Fairfax, Va., and ML learned to love the lifestyle of a military wife. With energy and a can-do attitude, ML now finds plenty of opportunities to put those skills to work.
Inside the generous foyer, white trim on cream-colored walls and hardwood floors fairly glow, inviting the visitor to explore within. The home's design and construction, by Dan Degre of Step One Design, has an air of formality with uplifting arches, 10-foot ceilings and white pilasters.
Counterbalancing that formality, the Gregorys have furnished their home in a personal, warm and relaxed style. Interior designer Michele Gowan, using her decorator's eye, assisted in coordinating and displaying the collected treasures of a lifetime.
The Gregorys have adapted the function of this beautifully designed space to their individual uses, explaining that they didn't want or need a traditional formal living room and dining room. Instead, they created what ML describes as "his and her playrooms."
Behind double doors, in what might have been a formal dining room, is her art studio. ML has painted for 42 years. She can trace the date precisely because, as a newlywed, she hinted to Frank that she would like a "little box of paints" for Christmas. If allowed to peek into her studio, one quickly sees that she has an inspired and well-lit space to pursue her art, thoroughly organized with every necessary brush, paint tube, tool, easel and book.
ML's paintings can be found in each room of the house - four decades of meticulously painted, studiously designed, hauntingly beautiful artistry. She also has painted wooden decorative pieces that are displayed throughout the home. Her work can be identified by her distinctive signature: ML.
Across the foyer, in what might have been a formal living room, is Frank's study, all decked out in rich colors of forest, burgundy and navy. One of Frank's interests is opera, and he notes that he appreciates the opera series at the Sunrise Theater. Among his many toys, Frank's study is equipped with a combination recorder and stereo system allowing him to transfer his extensive collection of classic vinyl records to CDs.
The Gregorys asked for a house large enough for lots of company, particularly their two daughters from Montana and Washington, D.C., and grandchildren. Guest rooms and a connecting "buddy bath" accommodate. ML calls these the blue and white room, distinctive with its bandanna valances, and the whimsical room, identifiable because of the many-colored quilts. Oversized portraits of the girls as toddlers are ever present, sharing a toddler's joy in the hallway outside the guest rooms.
The centerpiece of the home is the kitchen, large enough to be the gathering place for revelers, but efficient enough to be cozy for two. Rich burgundy-on-cherry cabinets flank the room and the adjacent butler's pantry.
The kitchen has clean lines with its white appliances and white serving ware on display. Arched glass cabinet doors over a pass-through echo the arched windows in the great room. The pass-through measures a remarkable 12-foot by 2-foot, serving not only as a pass-through, but also as a window to the golf course, which is just a stone's throw away.
The great room's dining area affords ample entertaining possibilities, as when ML served dinner for 18 during the Moore County Free Clinic's Dining-In event. With no need for window coverings, the room is light and airy, even more so because of the white synthetic wicker dining table and chairs.
The entertainment area of the great room maintains the feeling of openness with its off-white leather upholstery, white entertainment center and white fireplace mantel grounded with a deep aubergine and espresso area rug. The highly polished kidney-shaped solid oak coffee table comes with a history. It was once the repair officer's desk on the USS Piedmont. Frank was able to salvage it during his tour, putting it to effective use while keeping a sentimental reminder of his years with the Navy.
Frank also kept oak decking from the USS Piedmont that he has made into a game table, visible on the screened porch, a favorite retreat. The screened porch is comfortable nearly year-round because of movable vinyl windows.
The prettiest room in the house is the light and airy master bedroom with its furniture, cream coverlet and coordinated upholstery providing a neutral setting for another of ML's paintings, this one depicting oversized calla lilies.
Sponsored by the Moore County Extension and Community Association Inc., the Kitchens ... and Moore tour benefits youth development programs such as the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina and the 4-H Club.
Tours may begin at 10 a.m. at The Village Chapel where brochures and maps will be available. Tickets for $20 may be purchased at each house the day of the tour or in advance for $15 at Phoenix Fashions, Seven Lakes, at (910) 673-5998; The Faded Rose, Pinehurst, at (910) 215-0505; Daphne's Hallmark, Southern Pines, at (910) 692-7333; Seagrove Candle Company, Southern Pines, at (910) 695-0029; and the Cooperative Extension Service, at (910) 947-3188.
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