home with heart

The Hills’ Bargersville house maximizes function without sacrificing style
By Jon Shoulders  //  Photography by Angela Jackson

When Sarah and David Hill decided to purchase their Bargersville home four years ago, they were thinking big. Not only in terms of physical space — although roominess was a factor, considering the couple has three active children and two energetic dogs — but also regarding long-term lifestyle.

“I wanted every space to be functional and cozy. Everything had to be totally usable and totally welcoming,” says Sarah, adding that the family made the move to the home from Whiteland in 2017. “I really wanted it like the house in the movie ‘The Family Stone,’ where it’s just comfortable and no room’s off limits.”

The central portion of the residence, which includes four bedrooms and two-and-one-half bathrooms, is approximately 50 years old. A previous owner completed an addition in 2005. After the Hills assumed ownership, they decided to take a slow and steady, room-by-room approach to renovating the home in order to truly make it their own.

Opening up
“Sections of the house used to be closed off, and the porch wasn’t here before, so we wanted to open it up just a little,” Sarah says. “It was kind of a strange setup before, where things were closed off and the pantry jutted out in a weird way. It was a matter of making it more livable and functional.”

A family den space, which previously served as a garage and sits adjacent to the kitchen, is now their regular hangout area, with plenty of natural lighting, a multiuse table, family photography adorning the walls, and a sectional offering abundant lounging capability.

In 2020, the Hills undertook a complete renovation of the kitchen, which now boasts a sizable island with seating for two, pendant lighting, quartz counters and a coffee bar with maple shelving between counter-to-ceiling cabinets for maximal storage.

The room next to the kitchen, on the opposite side of the den, serves as an additional living and relaxation space, in which the Hills applied a few distinct and creative touches like floor-to-ceiling built-in shelving that flanks a fireplace and wood mantel, as well as a foosball table.

“The downstairs family room is where we all like to be, but I really like the front living room to work in when I’m not working in my office upstairs,” Sarah says. “I’m not too much a fan of wasted space, and this house is perfect in size. There are such beautiful, big homes all around the area, but this fits us perfectly. The only thing that it doesn’t have that I would love is a basement, but that’s OK.”

Working areas
Late last year, the couple finished rehabbing Sarah’s upstairs office, which now features a desk workspace, plenty of shelving with built-ins, and of course a doggie bed for those moments when one or both family dogs, Ollie and Leo, feel like checking in.

“When we moved in, everything was different shades of yellow, so we took it to some more slightly neutral shades — again, moving toward a comfortable and cozy theme,” Sarah adds.
Sarah and David retained Abe Garcia, a custom woodworker based in Wayne Township, to head up several phases of the renovation process, including building and installing the kitchen cabinets and built-in shelving in the front living area.

“It was fun to do odds and ends in a cool house like that, like working on the floor in the living room,” says Garcia, who operates his custom woodworking business under the name 6 Degrees of Design, specializing in cabinetry. “I really like the coffee bar area that Sarah had her mind set on. I like the floating maple shelves and the two tower cabinets on the sides. She had her vision, and it was up to me to go back and forth with her and home in on the design, keeping in mind what was possible within the space.”

Interior motives
The Hills didn’t stop at renovating the home’s interior; last fall they had an in-ground pool installed in the backyard, which they expect to get plenty of use when warm weather hits. They also plan to add an outdoor kitchen and grilling station to help with hosting company in the summertime.

“I didn’t want the house to be trendy. I wanted it to be super cozy,” Sarah says. “I like more traditional-style homes and not so much where the whole thing is open concept. I wanted a very comfortable place for people to gather. Comfy and lived-in is what I was going for. It was that and also function. We want that balance where things are nice-looking, but everything gets used.”

Sarah, a Center Grove High School grad, met David, a Perry Meridian grad, at a party during their high school years, one month before Sarah headed off to attend Ball State University. She worked as a nurse for 10 years until 2014, at which point she switched gears and began a career as a photographer, and she currently also works for Monat, a hair and skin care company. After working for years in the railroad industry, David now owns Element Armament, a Whiteland-based firearms shop.

Southside influencer
The couple has several favorite spots around town to frequent with their kids, Ethan, Harper and Maddox, including Johnson’s BBQ Shack and Taxman Brewing Co.

“Those are both five minutes away, and it’s so nice,” says Sarah, who for the past eight years has had a strong social media presence as a brand influencer with more than 84,000 Instagram followers. “Our boys play soccer right nearby, less than a mile from the house. We’ve got other stores, like the groceries and things, 10 minutes away. It feels rural, but it’s still so close to everything, which is my favorite thing about it.”

The family has always resided on the southside, and they don’t see that changing any time soon, especially with a home they feel will accommodate their needs for the long haul.

“I wanted a forever home that just felt comfortable and was still close enough to the city,” Sarah says. “It’s perfect to have land for the kids and the dogs. It was bit of a transition for the kids since they were used to being in a neighborhood. I like raising them where I grew up. It’s cool to see them in school with the kids of people that I graduated with. It feels like I would never leave, and we’re perfectly happy here.”

The Hills also feel the timing of their home purchase and subsequent renovations were ideal, given the commercial and municipal development around Johnson County within recent years.

“I feel like we got so lucky,” Sarah says. “We’re planning on being here forever, and they’re building everywhere around us now. To have a little bit of land in a place that’s seeing this kind of growth and improvement, what’s better than that? I feel like we have quintessential Bargersville here at this house.”