Sam Melton, owner of Lonesome Pine Mercantile in Hemphill, proves a little bit of creativity and hard work goes a long way.
He turned his family’s 1960s house into a modern abode with expensive-looking gear at a fraction of the cost.
The 1,200-square-foot house sits on top of a slight hill where you can’t help but believe God is smiling down.
Sunshine filters through the fluffy clouds to a pasture of cows and trees surrounding the house.
The wooden front door opens into a 5-by-4 tiled entryway with a picture of his great-grandparents and previous owners Belva and Arvid Bell.
The view from the door is rustic-meets-mid-century. The family room opens up to the kitchen with white walls, raw cut wood and sharp edges.
“Mid-century is the way of modern, so everything is supposed to be white, with sharp edges — ultimate minimalism,” Melton said. “We have a lot of white and grays tied in with quirky things such as tapestries hanging on the walls, a leather chair. Lots of pictures are black instead of chrome.
“We like to add things and show things off. We are both collectors.”
Sunlight filters in from two windows onto a loveseat, chair and fireplace with bricks painted a clean, crisp white in contrast to the stark, black fireplace. A mounted wood board creates a rough and warm shelf. The coffee table features re-sourced wood from his great-grandfather’s barn as the top and sits on a welded rebar base. Stained concrete floor melts seamlessly into the kitchen, highlighting a roughly 5-by-4-foot hickory island standing in the middle of cupboards and appliances.
“We wanted it to wear and look like it was lived in and worn down,” Melton said. “We made the top 2 inches thick and treated it with coconut oil.”
The sides of the island are stained ebony, and a gold-colored footrest runs along the edge for added comfort when seated on iron bar stools.
Melton made the footrest the same as the towel rack on the side: from plumbing pipes at the local hardware store. A fresh coat of enamel gold spray paint tricks the eye into seeing a high-end product.
“We like high/low designs — something that can be made really cheaply, but then put something expensive on it and make it look high-end,” Melton said.
He cut costs — but not looks — with concrete countertops.
“I thought, ‘Let’s experiment,’” he said. “It’s about $200 for the mixture, and we put a toner in there to make it a bit darker. A frame was done, and we poured it in and let it dry. It turned out really nice and durable.”
The same rich hickory planks that make up the island are secured on the kitchen wall with metal brackets to create an open, minimalistic shelving system.
“I didn’t want to put anything on the shelves (such as finish or varnish),” Melton said. “I wanted to keep them natural — just raw wood.”
The kitchen was finished off with hand-thrown pottery, a stone-cobbled vent hood and an apron-front white porcelain sink that juts just past the countertop for extra depth and girth.
Ninety percent of the shiplap on the walls is reclaimed from Melton’s family barn.
“Nothing in here is precious,” he said. “Anything we have is reclaimed or sourced.”
Melton has been building this house with the help of his girlfriend, Lindsey Harker, who will soon move in.
“I like the kitchen because we spend most of the time in the kitchen, and all the wood in here has come from his family, whether it’s from his family’s old furniture store or his great-grandfather’s land,” Harker said. “Each piece has meaning and a story of its own to share.”
“Your family gives you legacy and blesses you with that,” he said. “Land is the ultimate. This house — it was either we could demolish it or let it sit vacant. I jumped into it, saying, ‘I’ll do it.’ I wanted a home that I could say, ‘This is mine. I did this. I created this and each piece is a memory.’”
Adjacent to the kitchen is the bathroom that features a heavenly claw-foot tub. The tub’s black exterior contrasts with the white interior. Black faucets and fixtures match the black curtain rod that holds up a wrap-around cactus curtain. A waterfall faucet built into the ceiling adds the finishing touch.
“The waterfall was the only way I could fit in there,” Melton said with a laugh, pointing out his tall height. “If I had it in the wall, it wouldn’t be tall enough. In the end, this way worked out cheaper.”
White walls match octagon and square white tiles on the floor.
A shelf built from reclaimed wood holds a basin sink with a waterfall faucet. “We got the bathroom fixtures from Amazon to save money,” he said. “Amazon and Lowe’s were our go-to stores. But, honestly, don’t go to one box store and buy everything. Go and research and figure out what you want, and how to get it cheaper or reclaimed or recycled.”
He recommended keeping hard fixtures such as faucets and knobs the same color.
“Those hard fixtures need to be one solid color and flow through the house to create consistency,” he said.
A square mirror with a black frame hangs above the sink, nestled between his-and-hers staghorn ferns.
“I got the ferns off of Etsy, and they will grow pretty large,” he said. “Bathrooms are great for plants because you have the steam, which they will catch. Plus, the bathroom serves as a giant soft box because the light reflects on everything. They get just the right amount of light. Plants can get sunburned, too. Succulents don’t like too much sun — they need about five to six hours of sunlight and they only need a little bit of water.”
A spare room next to the bathroom is in the process of becoming an office or guest room.
Across from that is the bedroom. Two reclaimed gray barn doors that reach up to the ceiling make for an original bed headboard. The queen bed is a warm conglomerate of creams, gray-blues and rust-colored blankets and fluffy pillows.
The much-loved throw rugs lie at the base of the bed. His-and-hers glass and metal tables sit beside the bed, along with a wooden dresser. In the corner is a cargo chair they got for $35. They striped it, stained it, waxed it and then had it upholstered in herringbone suede. The side table is a tree stump.
Melton said it was important for him to have lots of white in the house to feel “refreshed and rested.”
“We want to wake up like we are at a hotel and go into our store that is full of color,” he said.
The Lonesome Pine Mercantile is dark, but has an amalgamation of vintage rugs, pillows, Moroccan poufs and leather club chairs to warm the hipster space.
A moose head wall mount and bricks peek through sections of rust painted walls. Industrial lamp lights hang high among the American flag, T-shirts and antique furniture.
“We really like collecting unique, charmed and sometimes odd things, as you can see in both our store and our home,” Melton said.
He said it can be a lot of work to create a place that is solely “your own, but it’s well worth it.”
Harker sat on the couch in the living room, admitting that she would have never attempted remodeling a house before meeting Melton.
“I like putting effort into a house because you appreciate it more,” she said. “Even though it took a lot of time and was very stressful — I’ll tell you a lot of emotion and crying went into this house — it’s worth it. You don’t live super long, so you might as well enjoy where you live, the place you spend most of your time.”
She looked at the white walls and dark-stained concrete floor, still open to possibility.
“This space is comforting and inspirational at the same time,” she said. “I’m surrounded by things I accomplished or reminders of what I want to accomplish. It reminds me to be creative and inspires me to think, inspires me to dream.”