A 1930s abode gets updated for a young family.
Bexley's historic charm, quaint downtown and highly ranked schools have long made it one of the most desirable Central Ohio suburbs, and the tight-knit community continues to flourish as young couples such Emmy and Mark Mitchell move their families there.
Yet, the neighborhood's high appeal and competitive real estate market made purchasing the right home no easy feat for the Mitchells, even though Mark is a native. (Emmy grew up across town in Dublin.)
Anticipating a long process, the couple began looking in the area shortly after they found out they were expecting twins. They had already decided that the vintage homes and tree-lined streets would be a subtle transition from their previous home in German Village.
They were looking for a comfortable home and plenty of yard space where their family could relax and balance their on-the-go lifestyle. The search took a while. “It took about nine months to find a place,” says Emmy, “because the homes were selling before they even went to market.”
After two or three offers fell through on other homes, they jumped on the opportunity to purchase a French eclectic-style 1930s home found by their Realtor Mark Talis, before it was listed. “He's like, ‘Keep an open mind,'” Emmy recalls, laughing. She compares their initial shock about the home's dated appearance to what it might feel like to be a participant on a home renovation show.
It took the confidence of Talis, architect Heidi Bolyard of Simplified Living Architecture + Design and contractor Matt Dehlendorf of Delco Construction to convince the couple to move forward with what would become a 10-month renovation.
“Our main goal was to redesign the floor plan … to create a layout that would function for their modern lifestyle,” says Bolyard. Like many homes of its era, the original compartmentalized design lacked openness and flow. It had a cramped kitchen and dining room and an oddly located powder room among its most problematic areas on the main floor.
By strategically removing walls and borrowing space from an oversized, outdated formal living room on the opposite side of the house, there were plenty of opportunities to reconfigure the layout. “Formal living spaces were not a priority for Emmy and Mark's lifestyle,” adds Bolyard, “so we were able to convert those spaces into more functional space for their young family.”
The powder room was moved so that it would be easily accessible, but tucked away from the main living spaces, and the first-floor laundry was relocated to the second level, making room for a mudroom with a closet and “drop zone” for the family to discard items upon entry.
Remaining square footage in the former living room offered the right space for a dining room, incorporating one of the home's original fireplaces and a new shiplap wall. A small office nearby was rebuilt with a second-story master bathroom addition in mind.
With freed space, a large kitchen was created, including a new island, a walk-in pantry and an eat-in dining area. A beautiful European enameled La Cornue CornuFé stove with copper finishing is a focal point of the space.
The same approach to maximizing space was incorporated on the second level as closets and walls were moved and bathrooms were gutted and redesigned. “There was a little give and take of space,” says Emmy, crediting Bolyard's insight as a mother as an important asset to the entire project. “That was so neat to see through Heidi's process, seeing where the space all transfers.
Dramatic changes were made to the master suite to use the space more effectively, including adding a new, large, walk-in closet and master bathroom addition where a second-floor balcony was once located. New vaulted ceilings and another one of the home's original fireplaces was salvaged, giving the room some of the home's vintage character.
Additional updates to the home's interior were completed, including a partially finished basement. Emmy and Mark enjoyed working together to personalize the spaces with eclectic décor choices and special accent pieces.
The home's outdoor spaces were considered carefully, as well. The homeowners reworked the space to fulfill their desire for a backyard equipped for entertaining and family activities. “Due to the smaller lot that their home is located on, we needed to take advantage of every square inch of the existing floor plan and maintain as much outdoor living space as possible so their children would have space to play,” Bolyard says.
Invasive plants and overgrown trees were removed in favor of more refined landscaping out back. A Florida room on the side of the house was converted into an open, but covered, outdoor dining space. The available greenspace offered a place for a swingset to be installed.
To update the front of the home and complement its slate roof and original stone façade and chimney, larger windows were installed. A front porch and a stone sidewalk were also added, while fresh paint colors helped enhance the house's curb appeal.
Now, with twin 3-year-old boys, the home is perfect for the Mitchells. While renovations were long, Emmy says there were no major hiccups, and she and Mark enjoyed meeting the previous homeowners, who stopped by to see the changes along the way.
“A lot of people come back to Bexley who grew up here, so everyone has a story, and a lot of houses have a story about who lived in them,” she adds.