tampabay.com

Curb appeal, screen appeal - this house has it all

By Elizabeth Bettendorf
Published March 9, 2007


WESLEY CHAPEL - Let's just say Hank and Beverly Johnson know the nuances of curb appeal.

They picked it up from years of watching HGTV - usually at Beverly's urging.

It works that way with them: Beverly loves the opera, Hank goes with.

Hank loves going to the Ford Amphitheater to hear Earth Wind & Fire or Chicago. Beverly goes with.

So, after years of soaking up advice on Beverly's favorite home cable network, something sunk in.

Their charming two-story Lexington Oaks house stands in homage to the idea of tasteful-but-clutter-free decorating: Family heirlooms like Beverly's great-grandfather's inscribed carriage stone and medical textbooks, along with Hank's collection of die-cast police cars, badges and other law enforcement collectibles, are blended so seamlessly into the decor, the house looks like a model home.

Granite counters are clear, the creamy carpeting fresh, the decorating stylish, bright and minimal.

And the upgrades?

Gorgeous.

They include a big, airy expanded lanai, new tile and carpeting, granite countertops, new lighting and vanities - even accents from Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.

In fact, the 4-year-old house is move-in ready.

As it should be.

There's a For Sale sign in the front yard.

And the couple has already signed a contract on a new home in Hernando County.

They're not worried about selling in a soft market because their 2,265-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath home is buyer ready.

So much so, in fact, that their Realtor, Karyn Glubis, a New Tampa real estate broker and owner of Resource Real Estate, recently made it a star.

On where else?

HGTV.

When a producer of the popular show My House is Worth What? approached Glubis about appearing with a client on the show that stars Kendra Todd of The Apprentice fame, she sent audition tapes for three clients.

Glubis, a top listing agent who holds a master's of business administration as well as a second master's degree in marketing, also will make an appearance on another HGTV show, House Hunter's International.

She selected the Johnsons partly because they had put so many upgrades into the home, which they purchased in the fall of 2002 for $151,000.

She also chose them because of their innate television appeal.

"They have great, great stories and they tell them so well," she says of the couple, who are both in their late 60s and grandparents.

The pair was selected for the show and notified last November while they were on a Caribbean cruise.

"It's been a whirlwind ever since," Hank says.

On Feb. 8, the six-person HGTV crew - including Todd - spent the day filming at the house. No date has been set yet for the show to air, Glubis says.

The couple moved to Lexington Oaks from upstate New York because it fit much of the criteria they were looking for in retirement: it's near Yankees spring training (Beverly, who grew up in the Bronx, is a lifelong fan); and it's close to a major interstate highway, an international airport and the cultural amenities of a big city.

Hank's a retired detective sergeant from the Orangetown, N.Y., Police Department. Beverly's a retired public health nurse.

But they really get around.

"Don't give in, don't give up," is their motto, one that has helped them overcome health problems and stay young.

They take classes at the University of South Florida on Fowler Avenue, attend the opera and musicals in Tampa and hold season tickets to the Tampa Bay Lightening.

They love to take cruises, tour model homes and cook.

Hank's an avid Ford Mustang fan and an expert baker known for his Christmas cookies and Russian tea cakes ("He's also really good at cleaning up after dinner," Beverly quips). Beverly can whip up a heck of a meal, loves cookbooks and is quick to share a recipe (she gave this guest a copy of her favorite recipe for foil-wrapped steak supper).

She expertly knits a scarf for her 2-year-old granddaughter while carrying on a conversation; and enjoys collecting colored glass and beautiful blue-and-white imported china.

They recently went to Citrus Park mall to buy a candle at Williams-Sonoma and ended up trading in their cars for new ones - including a red Mustang GT convertible for Hank.

Oh, and they're getting a Jack Russell terrier - a high-energy dog for high-energy people.

Needless to say, despite their whirlwind lifestyle, the house looks great.

"We've loved living here," Beverly says, "but we tell everyone that we'll only be 26 miles down the road."

Anyone interested in buying their house?

It's listed at $295,000.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at ebettendorf@hotmail.com.