Landing in the Perfect Spot

The Remleys built something new in a familiar place

By Jon Shoulders // Photography by Angela Jackson

When a major opportunity knocks, sometimes it’s best to take bold action and answer the call.

In the summer of 2020, Courtney and Levi Remley began a casual residential property search online. Based in Avon at the time, they had no firm plans to move or build a new home unless they happened upon an ideal piece of property in an optimal location. As it turned out, timing and pricing were on their side.

“We didn’t have a specific side of town that we were tied to, and so it was a matter of if we found land that we liked and checked all of our boxes,” says Courtney, a Sheridan native who met Levi during their high school years. “This land in Franklin popped up on Zillow, and we thought it would be too good to be true. It’s land in town, where you’re close to the interstate and close to the town activities. We couldn’t believe it.”

Charm and character

The couple brought on Duke Homes to spearhead the design and build process for the three-level Franklin home, which sits on 18.5 acres with a creek amidst wooded land in the back. They had a master plan drawn up by Thanksgiving of 2020. The Duke Homes team broke ground in February of 2021, and Courtney and Levi were able to move in by mid-November.

“Franklin has a charm and character that we’re drawn to,” Levi says. “The whole downtown-square feel that Franklin has is something that’s hard to match in a bigger town. Having gone to college here too, we’ve seen it grow, and it just feels like home to us.”

The Remleys opted for a modern and welcoming interior aesthetic for the five-bedroom, three-and-one-half bathroom home, with a somewhat more traditional exterior. A fireplace, walk-out balcony and three-car garage were all must-haves.

“We didn’t want it to feel sterile,” Levi says. “We like that modern feel, but we didn’t want it to just look cool but not be functional, where you’re walking on pins and needles.”

Pops of greenery

They preferred a white, black and natural wood color palette throughout the home, with strategic pops of leather tones and plant greenery, to achieve a simultaneously contemporary and comfortable setting. As regular hosts of gatherings for friends, family and colleagues, they also felt that interconnected living, kitchen and dining areas would be crucial to the home’s design.

A floor-to-ceiling gas fireplace, built-in shelving and a double row of spacious windows liven up the main living space, and separate offices for both occupants feature custom furniture (Courtney and Levi made the table in her combined office-studio space from scratch at their previous house in Avon) as well as closet space for potential conversion to bedrooms.

“I work from home part of the time, so an office was a necessary situation for our house,” says Levi, who has worked at Barnes & Thornburg since graduating from Franklin College in 2016 and currently serves as director of pricing.

Falling into place

Regina Salas, an architectural and registered interior designer with Duke Homes, worked toward a plan that reflected the Remleys’ contemporary-yet-comfy vision.

“All the pieces seemed to fall into place for this project really well,” Salas says. “They provided images and inspiration photos and things like that, but they were really open to the new ideas that we put forward also. We took all those elements and tried to marry that with their program requirements and budget. They have flex space, which is great and is popular right now, like their offices that can be bedrooms if they have extended family coming over.”

Courtney and Levi fell into a natural rhythm when formulating a domestic design vision and eventually working with the Duke Homes team, using what Courtney says are complementary skill sets.

“Levi’s the analytical, numbers person in our relationship, and I’m the creative one,” she says. “I quit my job as a marketing manager in May of last year and started my own business, Zealbird, doing marketing, video production and photography.”

The journey continues

As Courtney and Levi continue settling into life as bona fide Franklin-ites, their domestic design journey continues. They plan to install a swimming pool in the back and round out their basement — which currently houses an exercise area — with a bar, lounge space and ping-pong table. They don’t have pets but are considering devoting basement space to a dog bedroom so friends can bring their furry friends along during extended visits.

“Since around 2016 we liked the area then, and it’s only continued to grow and become more of a place where people want to spend time,” Courtney says. “We remember when Franklin put together their five-year plan, which was exciting, and they’ve checked a lot of the boxes of what was in that plan. We feel like we got in on the southside at a great time. Several areas around here got grants around the same time for redevelopment of downtown districts, so it’s cool to see that progressing.”

The couple cites Main & Madison as their go-to local coffee shop and remain constantly on the lookout for new eateries to explore.

“There are so many spots we love food-wise, and that’s what is so lovely about Franklin, that it’s not just chain restaurants,” Levi says. “You’ve got Blue Cactus, which we really like, Shale Creek Brewing, Twisted Sicilian, Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza and so many others.”

While the couple appreciates the contemporary aspects of their own home, they nevertheless admire the historic residential and commercial structures around town.

“We love that there are so many restaurants and businesses in cool buildings that have been renovated into what they are, and buildings that the owners have taken such great care of,” Courtney says. “There’s a lot of that here, with the Artcraft and The Willard and things like that. It’s a great time to be in this area.”