Green Country Living — Summer Edition 2022

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Summer Edition 2022

Local builder builds family’s dream home Family made few changes since purchase in 2020 Muskogee home offers peaceful, sunny space Woodworker converts logs pieces into furniture

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Summer Edition 2022


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Publisher Editor Contributing editor Layout & Design WRITERS PHOTOGRAPHERS ADVERTISING Director ADVERTISING SALES

Summer Edition 2022 Issue 67

Ed Choate Elizabeth Ridenour Angela Jackson Joshua Cagle Cathy Spaulding, Ronn Rowland Mandy Corbell,Von Castor, Cliff Moore, Cathy Spaulding, Ronn Rowland Brenda Adams Angela Jackson, Therese Lewis, Kris Hight

Green Country Living is published by the Muskogee Phoenix. Contents of the magazine are by the Muskogee Phoenix. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the Muskogee Phoenix. Green Country Living, P.O. Box 1968, Muskogee OK 74402. email eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com - Editorial: (918) 684-2929 Advertising and distribution: (918) 684-2804

On the Cover

46 Featured Homes

6

Thomas

Inside

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Local builder helps man realize dream home.

16

Lezama Family jumped on purchasing spacious Kendall Place home.

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Anderson Family loves home being close to the water.

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Summer Edition 2022

Beyond the Listing Henrys selling custom-built Muskogee home.

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Art of the Matter Byrd happy working with natural elements.

54 Scene & Be Seen Chat, hang out, relax and smile because you’re on camera.

A driveway swirls across the front of Ron and Kymber Thomas’ home, located on 60 acres in south Muskogee. Photo by Mandy Corbell


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Fe at u r e d Hom e T hom a s

Home a dream come true Thomas worked closely with local builder to build vision

B

ig Toys owneroperator Ron Thomas says he always wanted to be an architect. His 6,500-square-foot home on 60 acres in south Muskogee is a dream come true. “We obtained the land quite a few years ago and basically started cleaning the land,” Thomas said. “We actually dug this pond out front. I got an excavator

and worked in June 2020. In the pandemic, I didn’t have much to do but dig a pond.” Thomas said he worked closely with builder Mike Williams to make his dream a reality. “I drew the house and Mike Williams did the elevation outside the house and it’s been super fun,” Thomas said. “He drew the outside; the inside is 100 percent my drawings.”

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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A driveway swirls across the front of Ron and Kymber Thomas’ home, located on 60 acres in south Muskogee.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e T hom a s

The family moved into the house last December. The family includes wife, Kymber Thomas; daughter Kyrsten, 10, and son Ron Jr., 8. The long driveway circles across the front of the house and curves toward two garages. Inside, a “make an entrance” staircase swirls around a Crystal Rain chandelier crafted by designer James Moder. A wine cellar and cigar humidor is tucked under the staircase. “We keep some good bourbon in there,” Thomas said. The entry opens up into a library and music room featuring a grand piano from Saied Music in Tulsa. Thomas said he designed the wall of bookshelves and cabinets, and Muskogee Cabinets put it together. His office on the other side of the entry features framed copies of the house plans. Thomas said much of his furniture came from Mathis Brothers. All the lighting in the house is motion activated and computer

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ABOVE: Ron and Kymber Thomas show off some hot wheels with their children, Ron Jr. 8, and Krysten, 10.

LEFT: A grand staircase sweeps around a Crystal Rain chandelier in the front entry.


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Green Country Living

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Fe at u r e d Hom e T hom a s

ABOVE: The living room becomes an art gallery with a large painting and two alcoves for pieces. Bookshelves and cabinets flank the fireplace.

RIGHT: Lights shine from the custom designed living room ceiling.

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A balcony overlooks the two-story living room, as well as the many acres beyond.

controlled, Thomas said. In the living room, gray carpet and trim complements the family’s Russian Blue cat, Jack. A 22-foot-high ceiling is tall enough for a painting, 87-inch TV and a gas fireplace that can be lit automatically with a remote. The fireplace is flanked on each side by built-in cabinets and bookshelves. Above the bookshelves are alcoves to display art. A craft room is off the living room. Thomas said his wife designed the kitchen. “She gave me some magazine photos and told me to get after it,” he said. “I gave the photos to Zach Harper at the cabinet shop and Muskogee Cabinet and Trim.”

Harper added such details as spice cabinets that pull out beside the range. “We wanted an elegant design,” Thomas said. The kitchen and entry floors are porcelain, but give a marble effect. “They seem pretty easy to keep clean,” Thomas said. The chef ’s kitchen features two islands. One island has a beverage refrigerator, ice maker and a pop-up outlet for small appliances. The other features the dishwasher and microwave. A deep kitchen sink has a faucet, plus a fountain with filtered drinking water.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e T hom a s

ABOVE: Large windows surrounding the dining room offer a view of the Thomas spread.

BELOW: Two islands add food preparation, cleaning and service options to the kitchen.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e T hom a s RIGHT THEN CLOCKWISE: The back patio has dining and lounge areas. A wine cellar and cigar humidor are tucked under the entry room stairs. A second-floor cinema has theater-style seating and sound. A craft and art room offers plenty of space for supplies.

The kitchen features stainless steel appliances. The refrigerator and range are Fisher and Paykel Appliances from Hahn Appliances. The gas range features a large and a small oven, as well as a stovetop griddle. Appliances seem to fit perfectly. “When I was drawing the house, I wanted to make sure the appliances fit in correctly. I actually bought the appliances before we broke ground,” Thomas said. A coffee nook with its own sink and refrigerator is by the kitchen. The spacious laundry room/mudroom features a sink and ample counter space. It even has its own canvas laundry baskets on wheels.

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“We spend a ton of time fishing, riding four-wheelers, playing on the land,” he said. “When kids go straight in, it’s like a car wash and get washed off.” A technology closet has entrance to a basement safe room. The master bedroom has an 18-foot vaulted ceiling. The master bath has a pedestal tub. The shower has two entrances, two handles and six shower heads — two on the ceiling, two on the wall and two hand-held sprayers. “Two people can shower at the same time at different temperatures,” Thomas said. A walk-in closet features a walk-in safe. The children have rooms on the other side.


ABOVE: A fan and light hang from the 18-foot vaulted ceiling in the master bedroom.

LEFT: An upstairs gameroom features a billiard table and bigscreen TV.

Ron Jr. and Kyrsten have walk-in closets with ample shelves in their rooms. Their shared bathroom has a pedestal tub and separate shower. Upstairs features a reading nook, gym and a full bathroom. A game room/den has a billiard table, sofa and large TV. But that’s not THE entertainment center. A home theater with a movie-sized screen and cinema seating adjoins the game room. “I poured a lot of work into this one, a lot of research and a lot of watching YouTube on how to do it,” Thomas said. He even ordered theater seats from a seating company. Speakers are built into the wall.

“The whole room is spray foamed and soundproofed, so the sounds don’t disturb people downstairs,” he said. The five-car garage has two sections, both with an epoxy floor. Thomas keeps a Porsche, Lamborghini and motorcycle in one section. The other section is big enough for two massive pickups. The garage features cabinets with a refrigerator-freezer. A back porch opens onto the back 40. Thomas isn’t finished with his dream quite yet. “Thinking about eventually getting cattle,” he said. “Stage two of the house will feature a swimming pool, fire pit, outdoor kitchen and possibly the pool house.”

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Fe at u r e d Hom e L e z a m a

White shingles, big windows and a wide, shady front porch offer an old-style welcome to Caitlin and Victor Lezama’s home.

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Couple loves

ch a r act e r

of dream home Kendall Place home features quickly win over family

I

t took less than a weekend for Caitlin and Victor Lezama to find their dream home in Kendall Place. The house, a listing by Cindy Teel, became available on the internet on a Saturday. Caitlin found the listing the following morning, Victor said. “We came here at 10 in the morning and drove by,” he said. “We called Cindy up

and she said, ‘I’m right down the road.’ She came and showed it, and the minute we walked in we saw the vaulted ceilings, how beautiful it was. We made an offer that day. It was only on the market less than 24 hours.” The house is covered in white shingles. Two sets of three-pane windows were on the second floor. More windows peek from an attic dormer.

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Cliff Moore

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Fe at u r e d Hom e L e z a m a

Caitlin and Victor Lezama made few changes since they moved into their home in January 2020.

A front porch reaches from one side to the other. “It’s a big front porch where we can relax at the end of the day and watch the sun set, because it falls right into our house,” Caitlin said. The Lezamas moved into their house in January 2020 and have done little remodeling since. Victor said the house has its original hardwood floors from 1945, as well as original windows. However, the house had been abandoned and in terrible condition for about 15 years until Teel took it on as a project, Victor said. He said Teel gutted the house, and installed new electric wire, new plumbing, new insulation, new roof.

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“We actually bought it almost 100 percent redone,” he said. Caitlin said they added bookshelves and a storage bench in the entry. A friend with The Roth Company built the cabinet doors. Victor said they also added an electric fireplace to the existing fireplace. “What I love about this fireplace is that everything here used to be gas, so there are two things (by the fireplace) that had the gas lanterns on each side, so we let that little history still standing from back in the day,” he said. Caitlin said she likes how open the house seems. “It feels spacious to me,” she said. “When you walk in, you


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Green Country Living

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Fe at u r e d Hom e L e z a m a

Sun shines into a dining area in the Lezama home.

A roomy kitchen features an L-shaped counter and a spot where people can make coffee or cocoa.

don’t expect it to look really anything like this.” She said she also loves the home’s character. “You have the beams, you have the open foyer,” she said. “You have the really nice open plan in the kitchen.” The kitchen, with its L-shaped counter top, came ready for entertaining. Victor said it had a wine refrigerator. Slots for wine bottles are at one end of a counter. Mugs hang over a small set of shelves that serve as a hot

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chocolate and coffee bar. A short walk-in pantry is nearby. “We really utilize every space, no matter where it is,” Victor said. “In those days, the houses were very small and didn’t have very much closet space.” Victor turned one room into an office. The stairs and banisters leading to the second floor are made with wood.


ABOVE: Large windows in the living room give the Lezamas a panoramic view of their neighborhood.

LEFT: The Lezamas built this set of shelves, cabinets and bench, one of the only changes they made in the house.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e L e z a m a What once was a gas fireplace now provides electric fireplace heat to the living room.

The Lezamas love decorating for whatever holiday is going on, including Independence Day.

“I love this woodwork and the chandelier. It has so much attention to detail,” Victor said, showing light above the landing. Victor proudly showed a USA map at the stairs’ landing. It shows places the family has visited and hiked. The upstairs bathroom features a clawfoot tub. The master bedroom features a gas fireplace, as well as space for a big screen TV. Victor said they got the bed, cushioned headboard and footboard chest at a military exchange store.

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He said they plan to knock down a wall and add a master bathroom. Twin daughters share a corner bedroom when they visit. They, too, get plenty of sunlight from windows on the west and north sides. Drawers and cabinets in the upstairs hall offer loads of storage space. “They really utilized every space, every nook and cranny


LEFT THEN CLOCKWISE: The Lezamas have an ample collection of art and other items.

Family photos adorn a wall in the living room.

A United States map shows all the spots the Lezamas have visited.

in here,” Victor said. “Wherever they could find storage, they did.” Stairs lead to a full-size attic. The house also has a basement and cellar. Caitlin added decorative touches throughout the house. She said she gets her tableware from just about anywhere, including ordering wholesale, Amazon. She said she likes putting stuff together.

“I do a lot of Hobby Lobby. I do a lot of antique shopping,” she said. “I make a lot of things. Mostly everything in this house has a sentimental touch of something.” Victor said his wife always has a theme for the holidays. “Both of us serve in the military, so you see a lot of decor for the Fourth of July,” he said. The house also has modern touches, including Alexa, the voice activation service.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e L e z a m a

A wide front porch offers a sunny and shady space to unwind and watch neighbors.

“She can control the thermostat, she can control the camera in front,” Victor said. “You can be upstairs, downstairs, I have an Alexa in pretty much every room. It’s voice activated, helps conserve electricity as well.” The backyard has grassy and sandy space for the twins, as well as for a German shepherd, Cadence, and a puppy, Obi. Victor said he’s working on a lemonade stand for the girls. The front porch is the couple’s oasis with a wood glider and built-in bench. “I just added a fan out there,” Victor said, adding that they

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hang out on the porch about three times a week. They love sitting out there and visiting. “When we first moved in, it was like the things you see on TV, people bringing over cookies, people bringing over gifts. It was amazing how friendly people were around here,” Victor said. “This is actually where TU (University of Tulsa) actually developed,” Caitlin said. “It was called Henry Kendall College. This was the neighborhood where the professors resided, so it was a pretty historic district here in Muskogee.”


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Fe at u r e d Hom e A nders on

Treasures,

collections fill Home

Anderson family makes home near Mallard Bay

A

humble cottage has become a treasure house for April Anderson. Over the years, she has filled the house with family heirlooms and unique collections. She also has created her own oasis. Anderson moved to the house 20 years ago from Marinette, Wisconsin. Her husband was transferred to work at Fort Howard Paper, now Georgia-Pacific. She

worked with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. “We were looking for a place to live and this came up for sale,” she said. “We didn’t want to live in town. We wanted to live out in the county. So we started looking outside of Muskogee area.” They found a spot about a half mile south of Mallard Bay. Anderson said she loves living close to the water and has a pontoon boat and a fifth-wheel camper.

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Cliff Moore

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A bench made with a truck tailgate welcomes visitors to Anderson’s nautical-themed patio.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e A nders on April Anderson and her cocker spaniel, Freckles, enjoy their cozy house near Mallard Bay.

“What I was told at one point was that this was a fishing cabin, then somebody bought it as a home and probably added onto it,” Anderson said, adding that the house might date to the 1950s. Come in at the right time — at the top of the hour — and you’ll hear a grandfather clock in the living room chime the hour. In the dining room, a smaller wooden wall clock from the Netherlands has a more delicate chime. Family photos dating back three generations are on one living room wall. One framed set features a oval photo of her grandfather as a child. “The two smaller pictures are his parents, my great-grandparents,” Anderson said. “Before Dad passed away, he asked me what I would want and I told him I’d love to have that photo of my grandpa.”

Family heirlooms and mementoes fill the curio cabinet and wall in the living room

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ABOVE: A Provincial style fainting couch offers an elegant place to rest by the fireplace.

LEFT: A curved tile wall provides a private entrance to the bathroom and master suite.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e A nders on

Pictures hang on a beadboard wall in the sitting room.

A clock hangs by a kitchen wall, one of several decorative clocks in the Anderson home.

Dolls depicting “Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind” stand by a small part of a salt and pepper shaker collection.

A coffee table and curio cabinet hold salt and paper shakers, plus other collectibles.

Other family heirlooms can be found throughout the house. Anderson framed two of her husband’s pocket watches and hung them on the dining room wall. A bathroom features vintage shaving items, including a straight razor and sharpening strap, that her husband collected. A shadowbox in the sitting room contains a tiny part of her mother’s salt and pepper shaker collection. “I didn’t have the heart to get rid of them,” she said. “She had, like, 5,000 sets.” Anderson has a coffee table with a glass window top to display even more salt and pepper shakers. More shakers are displayed in a coffee table with a glass

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window top. Thayer Upholstery recovered a rocking chair that belonged to her husband’s grandmother. Anderson also has many newer, more unique items. She found two tall, thin figurines at a Eufaula flea market. They stand on each side of a painting above the mantle. A custom-made fainting couch by the fireplace came from a family in Pryor eight years ago. A pillow on the couch has a photo of Anderson’s 2-year-old grandson. A glass-top dining room table with an ornate green metal base came from the Teen Challenge thrift store at Muskogee’s Lakeland Plaza.


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Fe at u r e d Hom e A nders on

A large mirror from Teen Challenge had its frame painted to match the drawer knobs.

ABOVE: A daybed with a trundle awaits visitors. BELOW: Anderson got her dining room table from Teen Challenge and chairs from a Tulsa friend.

ABOVE: A teapot, platter, porcelain pig and a lamp made with a colander line a kitchen counter. BELOW: Refrigerator magnets detail some of the states and countries Anderson has visited.

“An artist had owned it and he donated it to Teen Challenge,” she said. “Then, I got the chairs from a lady in Tulsa. Above the table, a crystal chandelier from Lowe’s casts prisms on the ceiling. One room has a vanity mirror she got from Teen Challenge. Anderson painted the frame robin’s egg blue. A white chest has blue knobs to match the frame. The ensemble complements a gray sofa-styled daybed with a trundle from GalleriaFurniture on East Shawnee Bypass. Antique children’s school desks were refinished by inmates of a nearby prison.

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“Wizard of Oz” dolls and “Gone with the Wind” dolls came from the Red Shed in Muskogee. Even the smallest items have stories or memories. State magnets on the black refrigerator reflect Anderson’s love of traveling. “I’ve been to all those places,” she said. “When I go places, I get a magnet.” The small kitchen has countertops from Lowe’s. Anderson replaced carpeting throughout the house with vinyl flooring that looks like wood. The floor came from Mill Creek. Cody Nottingham of Tahlequah did much of the ceilings, wood


TOP: A new bathroom addition serves as Anderson’s oasis.

CENTER: Patterned ceiling tile gives the main bedroom an antique look.

BOTTOM: The main bedroom features vintage furniture, including a rocking chair that belonged to the grandmother of Anderson’s husband.

paneling and other carpentry. Ceiling tile from Lowe’s gives an antique look to to Anderson’s bedroom. About a year and a half ago, Anderson added a new bathroom with a pedestal tub and pedestal sink from Lowe’s. Towels are kept in an antique hutch with windows. She got a French Provincial chest from a Jenks antique store. Busts on and beside the chest have plants growing from the heads. Anderson said she got one bust from Poppy’s Garden in Muskogee, another came from HomeGoods in Tulsa. “This is my oasis,” she said. “I got my Alexa to play music, and I’ve got my TV.” The bathroom opens onto a covered patio. A table and chairs came from Salvation Army. Anderson recalled doing a lot of work for a gravel container garden along the wood fence. One bench features a pickup tailgate. She said she got the bench at a craft fair held by Backroads Vineyard in Okay. Beside the house, a concrete swimming pool built the 1970s allows Anderson to live especially close to the water. “My grandkids and great-grandkids will come and swim and enjoy it,” she said.

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S m a l l To w n Welcome

Fort Gibson

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S m a l l To w n W e l c o m e F o r t G i b s o n

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Beyond The Listing

Home offers tranquil surroundings Henrys selling custom-built Muskogee home

P

eople seeking a peaceful, sunny space are sure to love the southern Muskogee home of Tera and Dave Henry. “I love the woods, the nice big lot,” Tera Henry said. “It’s a very peaceful neighborhood.” The house, which sits on just under an acre, was

custom built in 2017. Tera Henry said her parents, Buddy and Kathy Michals, were the contractors.” The wide custom-made front door, which the Henrys stained themselves, opens into a house filled with personal touches. “We customized the ceilings, everything in it,” Henry said.

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Von Castor

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From any angle Tera and Dave Henry’s house offers sunny spaces to view nature.

FEATURES »» ADDRESS: 1918 Woodland Circle. »» ASKING PRICE: $519,900. »» SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,303. »» LOT SIZE: 0.3 acres. »» BEDROOMS: Three, plus bonus room. »» BATHROOMS: Two full, two partial. »» HEATING AND COOLING: Natural

gas heating. Central heat and air. »» APPLIANCES: Oven, dishwasher, microwave, range, tankless water heater. Gas range and water heater. »» FLOORS: Hardwood and tile. »» OTHER FEATURES: Two-car attached garage, gas log fireplace

with remote, dry bar, high speed internet, cable TV, ceiling fans, walk-in pantry. »» SCHOOL DISTRICT: Hilldale Public Schools. »» INFORMATION: Austin Seabolt with Kevo Properties, (918) 3603917.

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Beyond The Listing The Henry family, from left Maddex, Dave, Jensyn and Tera, each brought their unique styles to the house and their rooms.

Several rooms have unique ceilings. Chevron patterns in a wood ceiling add formality to the dining room. White shiplap with wood trim gives a farmhouse coziness to the master bedroom ceiling. The living room and master bedroom have 17-foot vaulted ceilings. Bamboo hardwood floors are throughout most of the house. Bathrooms and the master bedroom’s walk-in closet have tile floors. The kitchen and bathrooms have marble countertops from Surfaces of Bixby. Jay Rambo Custom Cabinetry of Tulsa did the cabinets. The living/dining area features an open plan. “I want a lot of natural light, so there are a lot of windows in here,” Henry said.

The living room’s vaulted ceiling makes a large space seem even larger.

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ABOVE: Chevron patterns on the dining room’s wood ceiling add an elegant flair.

LEFT: The island kitchen offers ample space for cooking and dining.

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Beyond The Listing

TOP THEN CLOCKWISE: Windows on two walls add sunshine to a dining spot. A master shower features spaces for two, each with a hand-held sprayer. The powder room’s pedestal sink and stand were custom made. The master bathroom has his and her sinks, as well as his and her showers.

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A ceiling fan hangs in the living room, which features a stone fireplace. The gas log is activated by a remote. The mantle is a reclaimed wood beam. Windows line two walls of an informal dining area. The island kitchen is done in gray and white cabinetry. The island features a bar for stools and countertop access for small appliances. The porcelain farmhouse sink has brass hardware. Wide, flat kitchen drawers boost storage space, Henry said. The kitchen also features softtouch cabinets and drawers. “You can slam them and they’re not going to make noise,” she said.

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of the things “weOne like is sitting out

here at night or in the morning. I have my coffee out here to watch the sunrise. — Tera Henry

A sliding barn door opens onto a walk-in pantry with its own coffee bar. Stainless steel Frigidaire appliances come with the house. A powder room features a pedestal sink and counter designed by Henry’s father. A mudroom leads to the garage. The spacious laundry room has its own closet, cabinets and space for folding. Picture windows in the master bedroom open onto the backyard. The master bath features a walk-in double shower. Two people can shower at the same time with personalized temperatures.

Wedding Sets • Engagement • Bridal Jewelry We h OVER 100 ave P Under $ IECES 1000 1910 N. York St. • 918.682.0233 • www.HaleyAndLoyd.com HaleyAndLoyd.com Green Country Living

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Beyond The Listing

LEFT: The master bedroom features a vaulted ceiling with wood beams and ceiling fan.

BELOW LEFT: One bedroom has a built-in window bench and shelves.

BELOW RIGHT: A ceiling fan helps keep this bedroom cool.

A bonus room upstairs can double as a fourth bedroom, study or recreation room.

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The back patio features a cozy space for conversation. The house has another patio with an A-line ceiling.

A roomy walk-in closet features built-in shelves and shoe racks. A full-size mirror conceals storage for ties and jewelry. Two other bedrooms share a Jack-and-Jill bath, though each has its own toilet and sink. Each bedroom also has its own walk-in closet. One bedroom has built-in shelves and bench surrounding a large picture window. A broad storage area in the hall has a sliding barn door. An upstairs bonus room can double as a fourth bedroom. It features a semi-vaulted ceiling, and walk-through attic access. It also has its own air conditioning system.

The back patio features a cozy space for conversation. A covered space with an A-line ceiling extends from the patio. “One of the things we like is sitting out here at night or in the morning,” she said. “I have my coffee out here to watch the sunrise.” The wide, flat backyard offers ample space for a playground or pool. Trees line the back of the property. “We get a lot of deer that come through right here,” Henry said. “I know we have a bobcat and some raccoons. It’s kind of living in the country, but it’s not.”

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Summer

H OME S ERVICES

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A r t o f T h e M a tt e r

James Byrd III stands behind a bar top he designed and built for Captain John’s Restaurant in Eufaula. Byrd takes salvaged trees and designs and builds furniture with a natural edge for area customers. (James Byrd III/Submitted)

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Byrd salvages, retools

nature Woodworker happy with natural elements

J

ames Byrd III found his niche approximately six years ago. “I had a wood laser saw mill, and I quit my car job and my wife said I have to do something,” Byrd said. “So I liked wood and started cutting wood off the property that I had for lumber and stuff like that. I couldn’t

compete with the high-end mills, so I said, ‘What can I specialize in?’ “I found the live-edge slab industry and realized I can specialize in that.” Naturally Edgy Designs in Muskogee was born. Byrd takes logs from salvaged trees and converts them into slabs of wood or pieces of furniture.

Story by Ronn Rowland

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A r t Of t he M at t e r “We deal with a lot of the salvage trees out of Muskogee,” he said. “One of the big companies, L&M Tree Service, we work with a lot. If they’re salvaging some big trees, they know we want the bigger trees and they call us and bring them back, saw them up, do the drying process and build furniture and stuff out of them.” Byrd’s beginning into the occupation did have a learning curve involved. “The first piece I did was build a desk for my wife Crystal,” he said. “It was beautiful for a long time but the wood wasn’t quite dry enough when I started building with it and over time it started warping in some spots. The critical thing for our customers is to make sure the wood is dry enough. “Basically, you want the wood to be as dry as the environment it’s going to be in forever.” Once his name began making the rounds, Byrd said people would reach out to him for a project — table top, countertop, bar top. “More people are reaching out for natural edge tops,” he said. “Stone tops like granite and marble were very popular 20-30 years ago. I right now I am doing projects just in this area.”

ABOVE AND LEFT: Not only did James Byrd III build the bar top inside Captain John’s, he built the bar on the deck outside (top) and a extra-long dining table (bottom) inside. (James Byrd III/Submitted)

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A r t Of t he M at t e r

BELOW: A table top is finished and ready to head to the customer. (James Byrd III/Submitted)

James Byrd, left, and his son James IV, measure the base of a tree that is about to be salvaged and hauled back to Byrd’s warehouse in Muskogee. (James Byrd III/Submitted)

He even has samples of his work for the public to see. “I have a bar top at Captain John’s in Eufaula,” he said. “Once the wood is dried and I start working with it, it takes about a week to complete the project. The epoxy fills takes about 72 hours before you can start sanding that.” And Byrd briefly described the process from start to finish. “First we find the tree, we get the log, we cut it and slab it,” he said. “Then we sticker it and stack it, put it in the kilns to dry it. Once it reaches a certain moisture content, which is

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usually around 8-9%, we ship it to one of our customers or find someone local that wants it.” Since that first project, Byrd has ventured into the supply business. He dries the slabs in his kiln then ships them all around the United States and the world. “I would drive 12 hours one way at times,” he said. “Indiana, Minnesota, to companies that had the kilns that would dry the wood because I didn’t have my own at the time. I now have two kilns here.”


ABOVE: A slab of wood is has been patched with epoxy and is waiting to fine tuned before heading to the customer. (Ronn Rowland)

LEFT: James Byrd III, right, and James IV stand in front of the base of a salvaged walnut tree that sits at Byrd’s warehouse ready to be sawed into slabs. (Ronn Rowland)

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A r t Of t he M at t e r Byrd says in the beginning what he wanted to do was build tables. “I knew I couldn’t survive because that’s such a specialized industry,” he said. “I figured I had some awesome wood, so I took this awesome wood to people that really needed it — to guys that had been doing it for a while. So I started wholesaling it to them.” His sons are in the business along side him. James IV returned from Texas during the COVID outbreak to work with his father in Muskogee. His other son works with his customer in South Korea. “Colton opened a shop down in Pilot Point, Texas, and he’s building some stuff down there,” he said. “We cut all their wood and dry most of it here.” And James IV is quick to acknowledge that he and Colton might be running the show some day. “That’s the plan,” he said. “It’s a job, but it’s not really a job if you love what you’re doing.”

James Byrd III stands behind the finished slab of wood that became the table top shown on Page 48. (James Byrd III/ Submitted)

On The Menu Guide to Area Restaurants

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On The Menu

Guide to Area Restaurants

Green Country Living

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Scene & Be Seen

Frontier Days And Rodeo Hundreds pack Hatbox field for a rodeo competition, which is part of Muskogee’s 150th Anniversary celebration. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

Re/Max & Associates

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National Day Of Prayer Flooding pushed the Mayor’s National Day of Prayer luncheon toward a strong, local focus. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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Scene & Be Seen

Chili Cook-off Chili and barbecue lovers found plenty of space to try chili, hot links, pulled pork and other meaty treats at the Exchange Club of Muskogee’s Chili and Barbecue Cook-Off. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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Women’s Conference Greater Muskogee Area 2022 Women’s Conference offered online presentations, speeches and opportunities for women to network. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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Scene & Be Seen

Symphony in the Park “Heard it on the Radio” was the theme of this year’s symphony. Muskogee Community Band played a number of pop and rock ‘n’ roll radio hits. Photos by Ronn Rowland

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