Living Here Guide

Suburbs: The perfect place to raise a family

When James Quattlebaum set eyes on the two-story, traditional brick house on a cul-de-sac in Northeast Richland, he knew it was The One.

After six months of looking at houses, he knew it was the perfect place to raise a family — despite the lime green, orange and navy blue color scheme, grimy living room carpet and lack of light fixtures.

“I had to look past the paint,” his fiancee, Kristle Garrett, says now. “I didn’t have his vision.”

In March, the couple bought the four-bedroom, 3-1/2 bath home in the suburbs, taking advantage of a Richland County loan program designed to help low- to moderate-income families enter the housing market. Quattlebaum and Garrett got help with the down payment on a home that had gone into foreclosure and had been sitting empty for months.

“To get your dream home as a starter home, right off, we were really blessed,” Garrett said, holding toddler Jasmine in a front room now painted a soothing beige.

Residents of the Winchester subdivision have use of a clubhouse, pool, tennis court and playground. The homeowner’s association is “not too strict, but they do have good rules” that Garrett said keep the neighborhood neat and attractive.

Their home is zoned for Richland 2 schools North Springs Elementary, Summit Parkway Middle and Ridgeview High — and, for shopping, they are less than 10 minutes from the Village at Sandhill.

“The neighbors are wonderful,” many of them ex-military, Garrett said.

“They make you feel at home,” Quattlebaum added. “Before we even moved in, we met the guy across the street.”

And at 2,800-square-feet, the couple has plenty of room to accommodate their blended family of six, including James Jr., 8; L.J., 7; Jernee, 6; and Jasmine, 1. (Not to mention Khloe, a Yorkie, and a bunny named Julius.)

Their new home is energy efficient, so utility bills are reasonable — a definite consideration for Quattlebaum, 32, an HVAC technician. And the kitchen has a double oven they both enjoy, as cooks who like to please others with familiar recipes and culinary creations.

Garrett, 27, a medical assistant, said owning a home really gives her a sense of pride and makes her feel the two are accomplishing what they’d been working toward.

Now, she’s saving for some dining room furniture she hopes to have in time for a family gathering at Thanksgiving.

“Don’t tell him,” she said, smiling and pretending to be telling a secret from James. “He said next year, but we won’t wait that long.”

Other suburban neighborhoods

Looking for a new place that’s on the cutting edge? The Columbia area has live-work units and urban condominiums for people on the go, smaller new homes tucked into old neighborhoods and suburban communities planned on the front end with nearby schools and shopping.

Second- and third-story apartments may be as small as 500-square feet. But the trade-off is paying comfortable utility bills and getting rid of the car. The 28 apartments over Mast General Store on Columbia’s Main Street were rented by 20- to 30-something professionals before the paint was dry. Like many converted commercial spaces, they have high ceilings, hardwood floors, oversized windows and trendy finishes.

Energy efficient construction practices are becoming more prevalent, helping new homeowners control their monthly heating, cooling and water bills while avoiding exposure to chemicals. The Mungo Co. got a national award for its “hauSmart” program, used in all of its neighborhoods.

Everything old is new again: Some builders are integrating neo-traditional elements in their home designs. That might mean Craftsman-style columns at the front door and, inside, generous use of moulding, built-in shelves and arched doorways. In suburban subdivisions, like Lake Carolina in Northeast Richland, the concept may be expanded to include commercial villages, too.