A family’s intentional approach to generate authentic hospitality in their home
All in the Family
Rodney Foster grew up building homes alongside his dad and brother in and around the Lynchburg area. After he graduated high school from Liberty Christian Academy, he attended college at Liberty University, where he earned a business degree and married his high school sweetheart, Heidi, just four weeks after graduation.
Over the years, Foster continued to work in the family business, and, in 2000, he joined forces with his dad and became a partner. When his dad retired, Rodney took over Foster Builders.
“I picked up a tool belt and kept going,” Rodney said.
Most of what they build are custom homes, but they have done some commercial designs as well. With three guys on his crew, this small family-owned and -operated business gains a majority of its customers from grassroots marketing efforts, such as word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, church members and repeat customers.
“They call back because he’s honest and a hard worker,” Heidi, Rodney’s wife of 20 years and office manager, said. “He designs around the families’ needs. It’s part of Rodney’s ministry.”
Heidi has transitioned into the company’s office manager by handling all the bookkeeping and managing rental properties. By default, she has even become an interior designer for some of their clients’ houses. Having a lot of experience in her own home, sometimes by trial and error, she has gained the knowledge to assist homeowners with color choices and aesthetic finishes, trying to keep the style cohesive throughout the house by steering them in the right direction. In jest, Rodney said Heidi’s official title is “Boss Lady.”
“It’s one way I can help him,” Heidi said. “It gives me another purpose.”
The couple has two girls and one boy—Bailey, 14, Dalton, 12, and Emme Sue, 8.
The children attend New Covenant Schools, where Bailey plays volleyball, Dalton plays lacrosse and all three play basketball. As a family, they all stay quite busy, but they are devoted in setting aside time for each other.
“We’re big into having family dinners,” Heidi said. “We have devotions after dinner.”
A Work in Progress
The Fosters have taken their business to heart and are now living in the sixth personal house that they’ve built for their own family, in essence creating a blank canvas to design and practice on. Though they say it’s a work in progress since there are still areas to be finished, they enjoy designing for themselves. Rodney jokingly said, “When the Lord takes us, there will be a ‘For Sale’ sign in our front yard.”
The most recent home the Fosters built is a 3,500-square-foot house in Forest that became a family endeavor with four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms and a two car garage. On the main floor, they have one guest room.
Rodney and Heidi were purposeful to include all the children in the entire process. As they began to build, their son Dalton helped his dad pour the footings and add the trim to the house. He even got to help inside with some design elements, such as the reclaimed wood wall they added in their living room. The wood came from the flooring of a barn in Spout Spring that Rodney had previously torn down. They also allowed the children to help with decisions such as picking out paint colors. Each child has their own room, as well as a separate bathroom, which also gives them each a canvas to play with. With their growing ages, they felt it was necessary to have a lot of bathrooms in the house—an added perk to having a dad as a builder. Their son Dalton got an added bonus in his room with a loft area that has both a ladder and stairs leading up to its high ceiling for easy access. His loft bedroom is a unique space where he can lounge and hang out with friends, growing with him into his teenage years.
From a design standpoint, the Fosters say they are drawn to décor with a modern edge that has a mix of rustic. Everything in their home has a matte finish, including their floors, which are hand scraped, since they don’t care for polished finishes.
They purchased their floors from Piedmont Floor Design in Forest. They chose honed Brazilian marble counters for their kitchen, pantry and laundry room, while the bathrooms received a combination of granite, soapstone and marble from Spectrum Stone Designs, LLC in Concord. The kitchen is home to simple Design-Craft brand white Potter’s Mill Shaker style cabinetry from Pinnacle Cabinetry & Design in Wyndhurst. Their oversized island and Butler’s Pantry, a small service and storage room between a kitchen and a dining room, was given a rustic gray hue known as appaloosa—a specialty finish achieved by combining several elements like distressing, antique brushing and spatter, consisting of gray undertones and charcoal brushed highlights. The tile backsplash adorns a handmade subway tile, which was the only shiny element they incorporated as a way to balance all the matte finishes and reflect the under-mount lighting. The light fixtures they selected are all new from Timberlake Lighting but have a vintage industrial aesthetic. In the master bathroom, they incorporated a newer design element found in the marketplace by installing heated porcelain tile floors that are meant to look like wood. On the exterior of the house, Rodney built the home’s front porch beams and ceiling in all cedar and used tongue and groove pine ceilings on the screen porch and balcony off the master bedroom. Innovative Stoneworks LLC in Rustburg did the rock work on the exterior of the house along with the home’s fireplace.
“We don’t like fancy,” Heidi said.
“Our houses are not lavish or overdone. We like rustic, but not country. I like things that look old.”
Paying it Forward
For nearly nine years, the Fosters were heavily involved in an organization called Young Life—a program that connects middle school, high school and college students with adults that reach into their world and build bridges of authentic friendship. Before she was married, Heidi had a family who took her in and left an impact on her life. The Fosters have taken her life lesson and now use it as part of their ministry to others.
“During my last two years of college my parents moved to Indiana, and our neighbors, the Quesenberry family, offered for me to live with them,” Heidi said. “I lived there until I got married, which was four weeks after graduating college. They didn’t charge me anything and just treated me like family. I cooked for them occasionally and helped around the house, but I was in school full-time and working full-time. They really became my second family.”
Heidi recalls the family as being kind and generous not only to her and Rodney but to everyone in their Poplar Forest neighborhood.
“I watched them care for many around them in need. They have true servants’ hearts. So they are really the reason that we have opened our home to others. It has been such a joy to give kids a temporary home until they are able to get established on their own just like the Quesenberry family did for me. It was a gift I could never repay to them, but maybe we can just pay it forward to someone else.”
Over the years, they have housed nine young adults for an extended period of time, which they fondly refer to as their “cellar dwellers.” The young adults are usually associated with the Young Life programs at Randolph College, Lynchburg College or Liberty University. Typically, their “cellar dwellers” are nearing the end of college, getting their master’s degree or just in between seasons of life.
“We’ve been to so many weddings,” the couple said. “It’s a lot of fun. It keeps you young.”
“We open our house to people that need a home—a B&B,” Heidi said.
“We are intentional about making it a place where people feel at home. They’ve become family. We let God bring the ones that would be a good
fit for our family.”
Though they love to open their house, they say that their children come first so they take some safety precautions. They filter each tenant through a series of personal recommendations.
The Fosters also welcome out-of-town guests to stay at their house during big events, such as graduations. It’s not uncommon to find 70 to 80 people gathering in their home for a large party or devotional group. Currently, Heidi’s parents are living in their basement, exemplifying their desire to extend hospitality. As they fondly say, “We’re everyone’s Foster family.”
A unique element the couple included in the home is an area they refer to as the Butler’s Station. This area includes a beverage fridge and coffee makers. Across from that is a counter that becomes a prep space with a pocket door they can close off to hide clutter. As a builder, they have access to everything, but they wanted to keep things simple, yet efficient.
“We were intentional with all our sitting areas—give them a burger and talk about problems,” Rodney said. “It’s what we feel like we’ve been called to do.”
In all their hospitality, the Fosters are also very intentional about making sure the “cellar dwellers” contribute to the family during their stay. They don’t ask them to pay rent, but they set up guidelines and ground rules. They must keep their space clean and pitch in as a family member would. They ask the females to babysit or cook weekly and their male tenants often go out to work with Rodney. Heidi said she enjoys teaching some of the young women who don’t know much about the kitchen how to cook. The kids also seem to enjoy the additional guests and welcome each of them into the family. The Fosters say the older students often mentor their kids and become like much older siblings.
“The Lord has blessed,” Rodney said.
With the serene colors and wide open space, this soothing and tranquil home not only ushers in calm emotions aesthetically, but allows the Foster family to do their part by welcoming all guests with open arms and freely share their lives with all who enter.
For more information about Foster Builders, Inc., email Fosterbuilder@gmail.com or call 434-832-1116. You can also visit their office located at 115 B Tradewynd Drive in Wyndhurst.
Heather Cravens is a Lynchburg native with 10 years of experience in the interior design industry, including owning Becoming Designs. Heather is passionate about creating environments that inspire and build families through the hospitality of their home. She mirrors that passion with her own family by spending time with her husband and their one-year old son.