The Turner home’s vintage vibes were a labor of love
By Jon Shoulders
Barbara Turner’s Franklin home could be described in several ways, not least of which might be mid-19th century chic, thanks to the wealth of antiques and custom artwork. However, Barbara stays even more concise when summing up the style and aesthetic of the three-bedroom, three-bathroom residence.
“It’s Raymond,” she says.
Once one learns the extent to which Barbara’s husband, Raymond, who passed away in June 2020, poured his heart and soul into the design, build and decoration of the house, the description makes sense. Visitors can’t turn a corner or enter a room without experiencing the many special touches he lent the home with his expertise as an architect, designer, woodworker, painter and potter.
While the style of the home certainly echoes that of the mid-19th century, it was constructed a mere 12 years ago based on Raymond’s design, with input from Barbara.
“We love the 1840s and love to make use of the entire home,” she says. “It’s 4,000 square feet, even though it doesn’t look it.”
Upon entering the home, and before even gazing at the many custom furniture pieces, paintings and sculptures that fill it, visitors find themselves immediately standing on custom craftsmanship. No, not just the floors, which are solid pine, but also the nails used on the floors. They’re hand-forged from Conner Prairie.
The couple went with a relatively versatile, open-concept design for the main level, which includes dining and living spaces. A wooden room divider features a mounted TV on one side and an original painting by Raymond on the other. All the doors on the main level were constructed of walnut by Raymond and his colleague, Bruce Thompson.
Raymond designed the cozy terrace in the style of New Orleans, with a brick walkway, a wrought-iron table and chairs, and plenty of greenery in decorative planters.
“I’m out on the terrace as much as I can be,” Barbara says. “I can feel like I’m in a different place relaxing, even though I’m right at home.”
Barbara and Raymond enjoyed finding unique items via auction together, and several pieces in the home are fond reminders of this pastime, including the dining room table. The couple bid on the table, which was available through New Orleans-based Neal Auction, over the phone from the comfort of one of their favorite local restaurants, The Willard.
“I wanted the kitchen not to have any tall cabinets, plenty of storage and to be inclusive with the family,” Barbara adds. “The walnut island top was made from the walnut tree that fell down on Walnut Street.”
To complete the decorative concrete fireplace area in the living area, Raymond first made cardboard templates to his and Barbara’s liking, and then constructed rubber molds into which he poured the concrete.
“He was truly a genius, and I don’t think there’s anything he couldn’t make,” Barbara says.
The master bedroom on the main level provides further testimony to Raymond’s skill as a craftsman and artist. Several of his many paintings, a hand-carved jewelry box and a painted window shade all adorn the space, which receives natural sunlight via a palladium window. The couple procured the bedroom chandelier from the Tippecanoe Place mansion in South Bend, which was built by one of Raymond’s ancestors, Clem Studebaker.
An ornate tub, a shell-style faucet backing purchased in Louisville, and another painting by Raymond, this one depicting Claude Monet’s home in Giverny, France — all enhance the master bathroom, and the powder room contains a vanity made of solid marble from Egypt, topped by a Sherle Wagner crystal sink from France.
In commemoration of the restoration of the Indianapolis City Market, Raymond created a series of seven painted posters from 1969 to 1975, which he titled “To Market, to Market,” and which now line the walls of the Turner home. Barbara and several of her colleagues were part of an effort to promote and revitalize the City Market at that time, and prints of the paintings served as invitations for the “To Market, to Market” benefit ball.
“We had the home on one of our home tours, and it was such a well-liked house because there are features that most people just don’t have, like the room divider,” says Rob Shilts, executive director of Franklin Heritage Inc. “Everything about the home is driven by art.”
Shilts adds that those visiting Franklin’s Historic Artcraft Theatre can experience Raymond’s artistic touch as well. Throughout renovations in recent years, he curated many of the materials on the theater’s interior and exterior, procuring them from around the country.
“Over the years many things were painted over and covered up at the Artcraft, and Raymond and I did a lot of detective work, pulling away layers of wallpaper and getting back to where some of the original murals and things were,” Shilts says. “We had very few photos of the lobby of the theater, but he had an innate sense of where stuff would go, to be able to put everything back in place just as it was between 1948 and 1952. He had a great eye for color and a great sense for that kind of thing.”
Raymond and Barbara’s passion for uncommon residential decor continues in the form of a glass insert between the home’s study and downstairs hall, and an orchestrion that originally sat in a hotel in Paris. According to Barbara, it was transported overseas to the U.S. in the 1950s, and Raymond flew to New York with the couple’s elder son, Kirsh, in the late 1970s to bid on the piece, eventually transporting it home and applying some much-needed restorations in the ensuing years.
Two bedrooms, a living space and a former studio painting space downstairs all serve to further reflect his hard work as an artist and designer.
“There’s a miniature design of our house that’s here, and Raymond did that to show me what it was going to look like,” Barbara says. “He made a little stage for my dolls, my Santa land with a carved swan chair that Santa sits in, and a dollhouse that our sons helped him on.”
Raymond and Barbara didn’t stop applying their shared flair for design when it came to the home’s exterior, which features rowlock-style brickwork, front window hoods acquired in Louisville, and an iron porch fabricated by Indy Art Forge’s Ryan Feeney.
“We have people through all the time that want to see the house,” Barbara says. “Raymond would be out watering, and someone would come right up and say they love the house and want to see it. He’d say, ‘Come on in.’”
Barbara and Raymond both grew up in Indianapolis and were married in 1968 at Indy’s Christ Church Cathedral. In 1976 Raymond, a Southport High School and Herron School of Art and Design graduate, launched his own design and historic preservation business, which served homes and yachts throughout the Midwest as well as Florida.
“Raymond was exceptional,” says Lyman Snyder, who hired Raymond to lead the interior restorations of his 1867 home in Edinburgh. “He did a lot of the artwork in the home and discovered that the ceilings had been painted over. The ceilings had beautiful original designs on them, and he restored that. We were privileged to have him to work with. My wife and I will be able to enjoy, for years to come, the beauty of his work.”
After a design career that spanned multiple decades, Raymond began painting full time in 2003, with a focus on landscapes, florals and still-life images.
Both Kirsh and Royce, their younger son, currently live in Franklin with their families.
“I joke that I have a 15-minute rule, which means they can’t live farther away than that,” Barbara says. “It makes me very happy that they’re close.”