tranquility by design

The Munozes’ Greenwood home is a haven for relaxation and neighborly sojourns
By Jon Shoulders // Photography by Angela Jackson

Chris and Kelly Munoz have learned that when promising opportunities arise, they should always be considered, even if they mean unexpected life changes along the way.

One crystal-clear example: back in early 2017, when the couple decided to take a casual tour through a home for sale in Old Town Greenwood. They weren’t looking for a house at the time, but upon seeing the recently rehabbed, two-story historic home, something clicked.

“One of my good friend’s parents was friends with a man who was flipping the house, and my friend told us we just had to see it,” Kelly recalls. “We love old houses, and we liked where we lived at the time, but as we were walking around, we both knew that we wanted to live here. We called our Realtor, who is a good friend, that same day and said, ‘We want to live here.’”

Originally built in the late 1800s, the 3,100-square-foot home’s interior renovations prior to Chris and Kelly’s ownership included refinished hardwood floors, a full kitchen upgrade and several unique touches, including a sliding barn-style door for the master bathroom.

“What I love is that it’s an old house, but it’s been completely redone, so we get the best of both worlds,” Kelly says of the three-bedroom, two-and-one-half-bathroom home. “I had a friend say it looks like a condo in New York City on the inside.”

The couple made the interior their own by adding accents like a custom, painted mural in the kitchen and a round table made with a repurposed whiskey barrel in the living area, procured from Trilogy Gallery in Nashville.

Koi about it
As much as they enjoy the home’s interior, their favorite spot to relax and have company — even in the cooler months — is in the backyard, where they had a full koi pond installed.

“Our last house in Center Grove had a small koi pond. We didn’t know much about it, (but) we grew to love it,” Chris says. “It’s great and helps to make it really relaxing out back.”

Kelly and Chris retained Aquatic Design and Supplies in Monrovia for the koi pond installation, which took roughly a month to complete.

“We knew we wanted something different for the pond, but we didn’t immediately envision what we ended up with,” Chris says. “We gave Aquatic Design a loose idea and said that we wanted some waterfalls or a small stream. They came up with a design, and it turned out really well.”

Dan Lamberson, president of Aquatic Design and Supplies, headed up the koi pond project and used the characteristics of the property’s backyard landscape to come up with an optimal layout for the pond and waterfalls.

“Dealing with natural stone, it’s hard to do a design or sketch beforehand. You have to work with the land when you’re putting in stone and streams, especially if the customer wants a lot of sounds and trickling,” Lamberson says. “In this case, they wanted some monster fish, so we made it deep and added ample biological filtration and a nice waterfall with lots of action and whitewash. It makes for a nice sound when you’re out there.”

Chris says that other than a square deck, the backyard area was nearly a blank slate when he and Kelly bought the house. In addition to the koi pond, they decided to add a small fire pit and a gazebo, both of which are used continually as they host gatherings of varying sizes. Aquatic Design and Supplies installed the fire pit, as well as a walkway that leads visitors to the backyard area.

“We love it. We had a band on there when our son graduated from Center Grove High School, which was a lot of fun,” Chris says of the gazebo. “When it’s cool, we can take blankets out there and take out extra fans in the summer.”

Neighborhood vibes
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Kelly and Chris have been able to enjoy the company and camaraderie of the local community this year, and they and their neighbors took creative measures this spring to connect through events like Friday night balcony parties, where families would stand outside and socialize from afar.

“We’ve become close with all of our neighbors; they call our gazebo the amphitheater,” Kelly says. “Even now with all of the social distancing, our backyard works well, and everybody can sit outside and spread out.”

Chris, a San Antonio native who moved to the Midwest in 1988, has worked as a commercial lender at Huntington Bank since 2003, and Kelly, an Indianapolis native, has been a nurse at Community Hospital South since 1998. They originally met on the southside of Indy and will celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. During their downtime, they enjoy heading out on foot to a few favorite nearby Greenwood establishments, such as Vino Villa, Revery and Yokohama.

“The neighborhood is really what keeps us here,” Chris says. “There’s a wall of trees over by one of our neighbors, and he actually carved out a section and put in a path. Now we’ll bounce from there to other neighbors. Over a given weekend we’ll hit four or five different neighbors’ houses. It’s a nice sense of community that we don’t see as much as we should anymore.”

History in the making
The couple now throw Cinco de Mayo parties every year, and Kelly hosts yoga sessions, when possible, on Saturday mornings in the backyard amidst the relaxing sounds and sights.

“Honestly it kind of threw us off when we got here because the familiarity here made it seem like everybody was in everybody else’s business,” Kelly says. “But here, they’re in your business because they care. For example, when someone goes out of town nearby, you happen to know that, and you keep an eye on their house.”

Last summer the Munoz home was included in the Greenwood Historic Home Tour, and Kelly says 892 people got to experience the interior and exterior up close.

“The organizers were hoping for 150 to 200 people. It was nuts,” Chris says. “There were people inside working the event, so we just sat outside meeting people. It was so fun and was another way we were able to connect with people here.”