After a series of major life events-the passing of her mom and dad, a new marriage and a newly blended family-led Gina Gibson back to her childhood home, the Powell native worked to renovate the space with her parents' legacy in mind.
Tucked off Route 23 sits a neighborhood that has, despite the area's recent expansion, managed to remain nearly secreted away. Made up of dozens of modest homes built in the 1960s, it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part of Powell featuring the kind of architectural mix rare in modern cookie-cutter neighborhoods. Even now, with so much development nearby, the neighborhood is quiet, peaceful, a little bit country. On Orangewick Drive is Gina Gibson's home. It's a nice house, a comfortable 2-story that's not too showy. It's not noteworthy because of its grandiosity, of course. Take a closer look, and you'll see there are meaningful details everywhere, from Gina's robins-egg blue office to the inscribed bricks lining the path to the fragrant garden. Though the home officially became hers in 2012, Gina spent much of her life here. It was the house her parents-Gene and Linda Scarbrough-decided to make their lifelong home. It's where they raised three children, hosted four grandchildren, planted trees, grew gardens and shared thousands of memories over a 49-year marriage. And it's where Gina chose to embark on the second chapter of her own life.
As a child, Gina-along with brothers Jeff and Gary-loved to race through her 1-acre yard, winding through trees planted by her dad and past gardens of roses and lilies painstakingly cared for by her mom. It's the kind of backyard that begs to be enjoyed-large enough to sneak off and still be close to home, lush and green and perfect for games of hide-and-seek.
"The neatest thing about this home is that, when my family moved here, there was nothing else out this way," Gina says of the neighborhood, a small development near Olentangy High School, not far from the hubbub of the Polaris area. "There was nothing. There weren't any trees in the yard even. Everything you see-the trees, the gardens-was done by my parents."
Gina's homecoming took place in 2012, after a series of tough life events led to a decision to return to the house her parents loved for more than three decades.
"I was married, then divorced. Life happened," she says. "I lost my father in 2007, and then we helped my mom manage the home because she didn't want to leave-she really didn't want to leave the gardens."
Linda, who stayed home with the kids while Gene worked as a salesman for Combined Insurance, took great pride in the backyard gardens, which were planted shortly after the family moved to the home in 1967. "She was an avid gardener," Gina says. "My mom and dad worked tirelessly every day to make sure the gardens were beautiful. My mom grew up on the West Side as a city girl, and my dad was from some little Podunk town and was a farm kid. It's funny that they were so into gardening … I think for them it was really just about taking care of what they owned. It was about making this a beautiful place for their family to live."
In 2011, Linda was diagnosed with cancer and decided to forego treatment. "We took care of her here," Gina says. "And then we lost her about four weeks later."
After her mother's passing, Gina and her brothers were set on selling; none of the Scarbrough kids had ever considered living in their parents' house. But something-call it fate, call it coincidence-was at play, leading Gina back home for good.AN UNEXPECTED RECONNECTION
One summer evening, as 6-year-old Gina ran to her backdoor to head inside, Jarratt Gibson-a friend from her kindergarten class-ran up behind her. He tried to plant a kiss on her cheek, but Gina squealed, turned away and ran indoors. Her rebuff stung, Jarratt laughs, but the two remained friends throughout the years. And it was this childhood friend who would be by Gina's side when her mom got sick.
"We had known each other our whole lives," Gina says of the friend with whom she reconnected while planning a class reunion. Soon romance blossomed, and the two decided to restart their lives together and blend their two families. To do so, they'd need the right home.
"My brothers didn't want to live here, and when they initially asked me, I said, 'Absolutely not,' " Gina says. "But Jarratt and I were looking for a larger home, and my parents' had just gone up for sale. I called my brother to see if we could do one final walk through it."
Gina had never seen the home empty and wanted to experience the place where her family had created so many memories as "just a house, not our home," she says.
"We walked in, and I started showing Jarratt things about the home that I had forgotten about, like a cool closet with built-in shelves going up to the attic and a space my dad built for woodworking," she says. "It was almost as if my mom was there, showing me things that I had forgotten were so great."
While saying a final goodbye to her childhood bedroom, "I just had this realization," she says. "I ran down the stairs and looked at Jarratt and asked, 'Why are we selling this house? It's everything we need.'
"We left and went to a church service that evening, and at the service the pastor was talking about going home," Gina continues. "We looked at each other, and we just knew we were meant to live here. And then I bought my brothers out."
After purchasing the home-and nearly four decades after his unsuccessful first attempt at romance-Jarratt again met Gina on those back steps. This time, he asked her to be his wife.RENOVATING WITH CARE
After moving in-and tying the knot in mid-2013-Gina and Jarratt set out to revamp the home in a way that would honor its past.
"I didn't want it to feel exactly the same; that would have been too hard," Gina says. "We remodeled it a lot."
The Gibsons enlisted Trademark Builders, Emmons Painting and landscaper Kevin Pape to complete their renovation.
On the first floor, they removed a wall to give the kitchen an open, airy feel while swapping the formal dining room for a cozier eating area.
"As a family, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen," Gina says. "Taking out that wall to make this one big gathering area has made the kitchen look completely different, but it's still the heart of the home."
The adjacent den became an office for Gina, a life coach and the owner of Your Life with Purpose, which provides personalized life and career consulting.
"My mom was really big on bluebirds," Gina says, noting the room's hue. "After [my mom] lost her mom, she returned home and saw a bluebird sitting on the porch; after she lost her dad, she saw two. She always said she had never seen (bluebirds) there before. So she collected bluebirds to remember her parents.
"She was so important to me and so inspiring and just such a beautiful soul," Gina adds. "So I find a lot of inspiration in the color and in the birds displayed throughout the room."
The all-blue space is the perfect complement to bubbly, cheerful Gina, who displays reminders like "Be awesome" and "Achieve" throughout the room.
In the sunny living room at the front of the home, you'll find a wall of windows to the wide front porch and bits of personalization here and there, including a hand-carved redwood coffee table and mounted taxidermy heads, both crafted by Jarratt.
Upstairs, Gina's 19-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, moved into Gina's childhood bedroom-and gave it a total facelift.
"She had mixed emotions about moving in here," Gina says. "She always loved this home, but was wary at first. She moved into my bedroom, which was pink on every inch. My mom never changed up my bedroom, ever. It was a monument to me! That was a big deal, having Mackenzie move into that room."
Gina gave Mackenzie full artistic license, and the once-pink shrine to her youth is now pale blue with inspirational words and phrases painted on the walls. "It was a neat life experience for me … to see her take something that was mine and do her own thing with it," Gina says.
Gina's 14-year-old son Bryce was more excited about the move to his grandparents' home. "He was very close with my mom, and he just loves it here," she says.
As for her brothers: "It was hard for them to watch me change things at first," Gina says. "It was very emotional for one of my brothers but, now that it's done, he says Mom and Dad would love this so much. And I think they would! We really honored them with the changes we've made."
Outside, Gina and Jarratt have worked hard to live up to her parents' knack for gorgeous landscaping. They've added to the beauty without changing much, instead focusing on inserting sentimental elements throughout the yard.
"We kept the gardens, of course," Gina says. The pine trees planted by her dad-one for each grandchild-also stayed, as did a gazebo, which was on the property when her parents purchased the home. A barn-used for Jarratt's taxidermy projects-was built just behind the gazebo, and a fire pit was added last summer. The brick pathway to the gazebo had seen better days, so Jarratt pulled out the bricks and poured concrete in their place-but not before laying two engraved bricks as a memorial to Gina's parents.
Another highlight is the collection of bird feeders that hang from a magnolia tree. Linda loved attracting winged friends to her gardens and amassed a colorful array of feeders over the years.
"Everything out here was created with my parents' loving hands," Gina says. "Every time something blooms again, it feels like they're here leaving me special surprises. In the spring, it's as if my mom is giving me gifts."
When asked about the rewards of moving back home, Gina doesn't skip a beat.
"The happiness," she says. "I'm completely surrounded by comforting things.
"There's a cardinal that comes to my window every single day and taps on the glass," she continues. "It was maddening! I got curious and looked into why cardinals do this. I read that it's [interpreted as] someone looking down from heaven. If my parents are watching, I'm easy to find. And I'm really proud that they'd be able to see what we've done to take care of the home they took care of for so long."