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HGTV show features former Clearwater resident

Former Clearwater resident Hylah Birenbaum Smalley (Clearwater High School class of '89), who gave up the corporate life to run a bed-and-breakfast in the mountains of North Carolina, will be featured on Before and After on HGTV at 8 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Smalley and her husband, Guy Smalley, bought a onetime corporate retreat and turned it into Mountain Creek Bed & Breakfast near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not far from Maggie Valley, N.C.

"The place had been empty for seven years" before the couple bought it in 1995, Smalley said. They remodeled an old carriage house on the property to create two suites with whirlpool tubs on the ground floor and their own living quarters above. There are five guest suites in the main house.

The couple have sandblasted, painted and decorated and are reclaiming the long-neglected grounds. Some of the areas are decorated in a funky 1950s theme. A "wine" room is painted in shades of "burgundy and chardonnay," and a "hat-and-bike room" is purple and lime green.

"We came up to this area and just fell in love with it," Smalley said in a telephone interview. She worked in advertising sales for Florida Today in Melbourne, and her husband was a designer for the newspaper. He is now a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

They had "a two- or three-year plan" to find a bed-and-breakfast property, but two weeks after their Labor Day vacation in North Carolina, they visited again. "Opportunity knocked and we couldn't pass it by," she said. They decided to buy the second house they saw. "We closed in November, moved in in December, and had our first guest two weeks after that," she said. "I would never go back to corporate again."

Hylah's parents, Mark and Barbara Birenbaum, live in Clearwater, and Guy's parents, Roy and Laura Smalley, live in Dunedin.

Visit Mountain Creek on the Web at or call toll-free 1-800-557-9766.