Michael Newell’s childhood home is a 7,000-square-foot colonial-style house with stately white columns lining the porch. Inside, it has unique features like a record player built into a kitchen wall. It once set the home’s soundtrack — a mix of gospel, Motown, soul, and make-you-dance Prince hits. Some of Newell’s favorite memories in the house were of Christmastime, when his family of eight would set up a towering Christmas tree in the open foyer.

Now, Newell and his wife Marche Robinson are turning his childhood home into a wedding venue, posting TikTok videos documenting the transformation of the Newell House and sharing real estate advice about how to build generational wealth. Not only is a home an asset that can build you equity, he says, but starting a local business can help build wealth in a community. 

The story of the Newell House starts in the 1980s, when several Black professionals bought land in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina, and built houses on it. Newell’s family  moved into their newly-constructed, five-bedroom home during the holiday season of 1983. Newell was born in January 1984. Over the years, his childhood home and its 16-acre lot was a celebratory place — his parent’s friends gathered at the house for homecoming parties, his sister got married there, and the home hosted countless family reunions. 

After the kids grew up and moved out, and Newell’s father passed away, his mother put the sprawling house on the market. But it just didn’t feel right, Newell recounts. Newly married, he and his wife decided they’d buy the home and honor its legacy. 

“Growing up, I was used to it being a house of celebration,” Newell says. “There was so much love in the house.” 

He and Robinson went to middle school and high school together. But they went on to different colleges and law schools before crossing paths again later in life. They reunited at a friend’s wedding in 2016, started dating, and got married in 2019. Their own wedding was in a historic home, which helped fuel their renovation dreams. Newell quips that he can hammer nails into a wall all day, but that his wife has the design vision and savvy to bring a timeless wedding venue to life.  

Ahead, the couple shares what it’s like to lovingly restore a childhood home (the record player is staying) and how to build generational wealth through real estate.

Apartment Therapy: What’s your design vision for the home?

Marche Robinson: We definitely want something that’s classic and timeless. That’s what I wanted when I was looking for a wedding venue. Every bride is so unique, and we want to give them a blank slate to create their vision. We also want it to feel warm; and strike that balance of being historic, but modernized. 

AT: Is there a part of the renovation you’re most excited to see come together? 

MR: The little study is my favorite. Everything else in the house will be clean and neutral. The study will be a place where you can walk in and get a drink. It has this open shelving that can hold glasses. We’re thinking about painting it a Carolina blue. 

Michael Newell: For me, it’s the exterior. We painted the brick with Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster, and it has this whole new energy. I love the backdrop of the white house with the blue skies and green lawn.

AT: How will this project help build generational wealth? And what would you share with others who are interested in building generational wealth through real estate? 

MR: I think my best advice is that if you’re able to buy a property from a family member or inherit one, don’t feel like you have to fit in this box of living there. You can turn it into an Airbnb or think of different ways of turning it into a business.

AT: What advice do you have for others restoring a family home? 

MR: We’re preserving certain elements that are special to the house. We’re doing everything we can to keep the record player that’s built into the wall of the kitchen. We want to keep the details that make it unique, but bring it into the present. 

MN: Go into it with a maximum level of patience. Prepare yourself for delays and for things to go wrong.