A Columbus visionary invites the ravine into her new, contemporary space.
At this Clintonville home, the kitchen is center stage to the family room, left. Plenty of windows flood the area with light and allow picturesque views of the Walhalla Ravine.Photo by Todd Yarrington.
The lush, wooded views from this Clintonville kitchen were part of the grand plan when a local Realtor and contractor decided to build a new home.
Columbus native Wendy Hansel, who has lived in eight different homes since starting her company 10 years ago, thought that she would renovate and enlarge the Sears-style ranch house that originally sat on this property when she purchased it. After years of owning the house and two rounds of architectural drawings, though, she decided to demolish it and build a more modern version. “I saw this lot and I thought it needed a special house,” says Hansel.
Indeed, a new home perched on the edge of Clintonville’s Walhalla Ravine, where most homes were built in the early 20th century, is news in itself. Hansel found the modern drawings for this house in a magazine, gathered together her subcontractors and went right to work. With its open floor plan, the kitchen is poised as a stage to the nearby family room, featuring rich espresso-colored cabinets and ultra-modern bar stools lined up along an island that houses a four-burner Jenn-Air cooktop, complete with a grill. Just a few feet away, the sink area with its modern faucet almost appears to be chrome sculpture. Underneath the island, Hansel plans a trash recycling area.
“This house is simple,” says the homeowner, comparing it to others where she’s lived and renovated. Only once did she leave Columbus, and then she ventured north and to Highland Lakes in southern Delaware County for a short period of two months.
Hansel studied cinematography when she attended Ohio State University, so perhaps it’s the drama of this home that appealed to her aesthetic senses. Kitchen ceilings are high and peaked, and a line of square windows is situated uniquely just above the countertop and below the cabinetry, contributing to the vast feeling of open space. “I wanted to bring nature into the house,” says Hansel. At the rear of the room, beyond a round, glass table setting on steel supports, vertical windows look out onto the ravine. A nearby glass door opens to a spacious deck, complete with a fireplace to warm chilly evenings.
Stone walls surround that fireplace and another that mirrors it in the family room. A matching stone pillar shoots up through one end of the kitchen, effortlessly providing balance within the space and easily incorporating natural elements found just outside the doors.
Hansel decided to add a concrete countertop that has been tinted and polished to blend with the dark décor here. Walls are painted in a charcoal color and appliances are stainless. A Jenn-Air oven and microwave are stacked near a large pantry—with its doors painted a creamy white—and at the opposite end of the island, a Sub-Zero refrigerator sports panels that match the cabinet color.
The homeowner and her visitors are treated to fast cups of coffee or espresso, with a Miele built-in espresso machine in the beverage station of the kitchen. A drawer for warming plates is tucked into this area, just next to a smaller concrete counter, complete with its own service sink. A wine cooler is planned for the space below. Just beyond this area, the home’s dining room can more formally host dinner for eight or more at its glass-topped table and accompanying black and steel chairs.
Looking toward the kitchen from the family room area, Hansel marvels at the vast space, her biggest project to date. “This house to me is like a work of art,” she says. A sleek television screen is attached to an exterior kitchen wall, and an enlarged version is on the opposite wall in the family room. Hansel shows a guest her high-tech security system, which throws images of those standing at the front door up on these screens. The system also provides temperature control, security, music, lights and all with the touch of a few buttons. “And, I can access it from my iPhone,” she says.
After four years of construction here, Hansel admits to being nearly finished with the details of this Walhalla wonder. A restless sort, though, she’s already wondering what her next project might be. n
Sherry Beck Paprocki is the editor of Columbus Monthly Homes.