Home & Garden: Hartwell couple builds homes from the heart

  • Photo submitted The living room at Vollrath Homes’ project at 159 Athens Street is bathed in window light.
    Photo submitted The living room at Vollrath Homes’ project at 159 Athens Street is bathed in window light.
  • Maggie and John Vollrath pose for a photo during renovations at the Athens Street house.  Photo  submitted
    Maggie and John Vollrath pose for a photo during renovations at the Athens Street house. Photo submitted
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When husband and wife duo John and Maggie Vollrath ventured into their grassroots home design and construction business, they wanted to simplify the process for clients to build, or renovate, their dream living and gathering space.

After they purchased their first home in 2018, an apartment over a two-car garage located on Lake Hartwell, John and Maggie Vollrath renovated the place, with Maggie at the design helm and John hammering in the construction work. The newlyweds then rented out the property, which is how more opportunities came about.

“People who booked that, or looked to book it, wanted their space to feel that way,” Maggie said. “So I started getting more and more opportunities to come into peoples’ homes and that’s when I really realized how much easier it would be for, on the clients’ side, if people didn’t have to hire design and construction separately.”

Maggie Vollrath, originally from Powder Springs, said she wanted to create a more cohesive process after she noticed how much more difficult it is to make sure all of the details are communicated when multiple entities are involved.

“I saw so many of my clients love their homes and also feel more satisfied with such a big investment when they had some help on the design side just thinking through the whole space and how it works together,” Maggie said. “And so we thought, if we can do it together, we can reduce the costs of that and also make the building process less of a headache if there can be better communication and better planning.”

The couple, who are soon to celebrate their two-year anniversary, are now the proprietors of Vollrath Homes, a “heart-centered” construction and design company building and renovating modern homes in and around Hartwell.

John Vollrath, a Hartwell native who had previous construction experience working for a builder after graduating college, planned to go work for another builder in June of 2019, but after that fell through, the couple transitioned to working full-time for their own company by late August.

“This opportunity came with my wife and we hit it head-on,” John said.

The services the Vollraths provide for their clients range from building custom homes, renovating houses, redesigning interiors or offering move-in-ready homes they renovated that are already on the market.

“For the client, it really just depends on what building their dream house looks like,” Maggie said. “Some people love old homes, some people are all about restoration and some people, if they’re going to invest, they want everything to be new. They want to be the first person there. So we do both sides of the home-buying process. We have really good working relationships with most of the agents in Hartwell, so we’ve helped find fixer-uppers for clients.”

One of their most recent projects is a house they bought and renovated that’s now on the market in a historic downtown Hartwell area at 159 Athens Street. The 1950’s-built, four-bedroom, four-bathroom home underwent some major floor plan changes, the Vollraths said, and is giving Athens Street a fresh face. To provide amenities often considered essential now, the Vollraths completely renovated the kitchen, along with an area that used to be a formal dining room and the laundry room, creating an open-concept kitchen that backs into a full master suite. Maggie said this update helps meet the needs of a modern family and adds comfortability, while honoring the home’s age by keeping the general ranch-style.

“I think it’s just brought a bunch of life to the street and to the community,” John said about the Athens Street project.

Maggie said her personal design taste is modern traditional or transitional, but that she can cater to what the clients want. For clients, she said they do their best to “honor the home and also what their vision is for what makes them feel most comfortable.”

“I really like a mix of new and old. I like for a space to feel warm, but to also feel up to date and modern,” Maggie said. 

Lately the couple has been gearing up to open their new downtown shop, Provision, which will be located at the old showroom space of the former Ford dealership between Depot and Howell streets and is scheduled to open sometime this summer. The location will feature retail space for home goods, offices and meeting space for the business. Maggie said she wants the store to be a place where designing your home is more attainable and approachable, creating an area for the client to play with ideas, style spaces and be able to see how things might look in their own home before they commit to anything.

“It’s going to be set like a house. There will be a full kitchen built in, a dining room, a living room, a bedroom,” Maggie said about the home goods store. “It’s going to carry a lot of products that I like to use in my clients’ homes.”

Working together, the pair spends a lot of time with each other, something they both say has helped them grow and communicate better as a couple.

“It’s definitely been challenging to be intentional about getting to know one another during this time, but I’m really, really thankful for it,” Maggie said. “It forces you to talk to each other about everything.”

The Vollraths’ vision for the future is to continue adding to the growth of Hartwell and serve families living here by providing homes where people can gather with loved ones and welcome people into their home for years to come.

“We would love to be a part of the charming appeal that Hartwell already has and just continuing to make that available for more families would be a huge dream,” Maggie said.