While renovating one's residence can be a source of frustration for many homeowners, it was an organic process for Connie Evans.
"We would knock out a wall when we needed more space for something, and we made a porch into a room in the back of the house," she said. "Part of the kitchen was once a bedroom. It's just really been organic. As we would see a need or a change we needed to make, we would just start thinking about it and do it. We've had a couple of architects too so we would keep the integrity of the house."
Evans and her husband, Donald, purchased their mid-1800s Victorian-English home in 1971 and portions of the Cartersville residence were remodeled through 2004. Their personal touches can be seen throughout the home, especially in the kitchen, which was renovated in 2008 with the guidance of Cartersville-based interior designer Beverly Baribault.
Evans drew inspiration for the kitchen's cabinet door design from an antique hutch in the adjoining sitting room. The couple had purchased the piece from the 1903 Bartow County Courthouse in 1971.
"We bought this piece when we knocked out the wall and enlarged the kitchen and I've always loved it. It's just a wonderful old pine piece," she said. "There are a thousand cabinet designs and it finally hit me that what I'd really like was to mirror this old cabinet and the people that made the cabinets did that. They just used that piece as the prototype."
In keeping with the architectural integrity of the home, the kitchen design pulled together a combination of old materials and new items that have an antique feel. In addition to using 100-year-old pine for the cabinets, Evans selected honed granite for the countertops and zinc sinks, which she said resemble the look of old washtubs. The result is an amazing transformation from when the couple first moved in, with the space initially featuring linoleum on the walls.
Area residents will have the opportunity to visit the Evans' kitchen and backyard retreat at 572 W. Main St. during the Kitchen & Outdoor Living Tour June 5 and 6 from 1 to 6 p.m. The tour also will feature five other residences that range in age, style and size: 50 Cassville Road, home of Ben and Ann Warren; 12 Oakland Drive, home of Dona Choate; 404 Terrell Drive, home of Tom and Beverly Baribault; 722 West Ave., home of Zim and Martha Choate; and 633 West Ave., home of Jay and Ansley Choate. During the tour, participants will view an array of kitchen styles, from French country to modern, shade gardens and outdoor entertainment areas with pools and dining capabilities.
The Kitchen & Outdoor Living Tour will serve as a fundraiser for the AIDS Alliance of Northwest Georgia, where Evans is a board member. Based in Cartersville, the AIDS Alliance assists 110 HIV/AIDS clients, ranging in age from 14 to 70s, in 10 northwest Georgia counties. Proceeds from the tour will help the nonprofit maintain its current level of services, some of which include transportation for clients, support groups, and prevention and housing programs.
"The tour will support our programs and services that we offer including an emphasis we have right now on providing education for adolescents and teenagers in the community," said Lola Thomas, executive director for the AIDS Alliance, referring to working with schools and low-income housing areas. "We're beginning to focus a lot on that.
"So those types of programs in terms of education, that's something that we would like to expand. In addition to that, the program that I would say we are working hard to keep viable is transportation for clients to get to doctor appointments and other medical appointments."
If its goal of raising $15,000 through the Kitchen & Outdoor Living Tour is met, the AIDS Alliance will be a step closer to its overall mission of increasing local funding -- donations and benefits -- from 5 percent to 10 percent.
"[Fundraisers are] critical to us, more so as grants become harder to get," Thomas said. "We're very dependent on grants, which we're very thankful that some have been available to help us with some of our programs. But grants don't cover all of the needs that exist so we're dependent on fundraising and the generosity of individual donations to help us provide the variety of programs that we're able to offer, such as housing and a food pantry and so forth."
For Evans, who is serving on the AIDS Alliance's board of directors for the second year, helping those impacted by HIV and AIDS is a cause that is close to her heart.
"I've worked in HIV and AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic. In the '80s, I worked at a facility in Atlanta called Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Agency," Evans said. "We dealt with spiritual needs of folks that were HIV positive. At that time folks were diagnosed and dying very quickly. It was before the drugs that are so helpful now. So I worked at this agency and I was doing that in conjunction with going back to school and getting a master's in social work and ultimately I became a clinical social worker.
"What I realized in working with that population of people is they were the most alive folks I've ever been around in my life. These were young people, and they were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. They lived every day like it could be their last, and they were such a joy to be with that it has remained one of the highlights of my life. So this project to enhance the lives of folks that are living with HIV and AIDS continues to be real important to me. This tour will help do that because it will help provide some of the funding we need to help these families."
Tickets for the tour cost $20 and can be purchased in advance at three Cartersville sites: Moore's Gourmet Market, 227 Fite St.; Periwinkle, 22 E. Church St.; and the AIDS Alliance, 775 West Ave., Suite E. Attendees also can obtain tickets during tour hours at each featured residence and the Regions Bank parking lot, 200 W. Main St., where buses will shuttle people to the homes free of charge.
For more information, call the AIDS Alliance at 770-606-0953 or visit www.kitchentourcartersville.com.