Jim and Cindy Lombardo spent 14-months reviving a “Brady Bunch era” home into their perfect space.
The bigger the renovation, the greater the reward. Such is the case for Jim and Cindy Lombardo of Dublin, who spent 14 months transforming a dated house into the perfect space for their family's changing priorities.
Prompted to downsize as two of their three children were heading off to college, the couple purchased a 50-year-old home in March 2014 because it offered something they were lacking in their previous space: a pool and spacious outdoor living area.
With much work to be done on both the interior and exterior, the family exercised patience as they tackled the major home renovation project. “We had this big, beautiful house and everybody thought, ‘Why are you moving? Everything is decorated and done and it's beautiful. Why would you move from that to come to all of this that you have to do?'” recalls Cindy.
Trusting that a major renovation of the house could eventually fulfill their vision, the couple turned to Cindy's longtime friend, designer Tanya Ash, and architect Jamee Parish to help them develop a design plan.
The house, which Cindy says is a hallmark of The Brady Bunch era, had a boxy layout and out-of-date furnishings that gave it a dark and dismal feel. Also, past renovation projects by previous homeowners left a house that was fairly disjointed. “Things just weren't organized,” says Jim of the original space. “There was no flow to the house.”
Parish worked to improve the layout of the main floor by focusing on brightening up the interior and exterior and giving the home an architectural identity infused with craftsmanlike details. Ross Builders and Design was tasked with the construction. “We knew we needed to open the rooms to each other, as well as to the outdoors,” says Parish. “However, we also wanted to do it in such a way that utilized every inch of space in a meaningful way.”
An 8-by-20-foot extension at the rear of the house would enlarge the family room and transform an unneeded Florida room into a usable, year-round sunroom. Extra windows and doors would increase natural light and offer an enhanced view of the backyard. “It almost made [the sunroom] like a new addition, even though we did not touch the square footage at all,” says Jim.
With room to spread out, adjustments could be made to the entire level.
“We opened any [doorway and transition area] we could,” says Cindy. Knocking out walls opened the cramped foyer, exposing the home's staircase. It also opened rooms in nearly the entire first floor. The open floor plan now provides sightlines to the kitchen and backyard. Natural, light white oak plank floors were installed to create cohesiveness throughout the area.
Removing the wall between the dining room and the kitchen made the most noticeable difference to the flow of the space, explains Ash. “We decided that instead of having a formal dining room, it would be great to have something that was [useable] all the time,” she says. “The kitchen is the most dramatic change.”
Even though it had undergone a renovation by previous homeowners, its long layout and a wall of excessive cabinetry did not work well with the Lombardos' vision for openness. By joining the two spaces and using a variety of family-friendly materials durable for everyday living, the updated kitchen now offers function and style.
A large island with clean lines, convenient seating and an extra sink defines the space. New granite countertops balance a simplistic backsplash, while well-planned custom cabinetry by Mullet Cabinet, as well as a walk-in pantry off the kitchen, provide plenty of storage. An open window above the sink overlooks the sunroom and gives the family another vantage point to the backyard. Special details, such as an oversized hood above the stove and patterned doors on select cabinets, create aesthetic interest.
As projects were underway on the main floor, including a full bathroom and laundry room, updates to the second level master bedroom and bathroom also took shape.
With contractors in and out of the house every day and food regularly prepared
in a slow cooker, efforts to complete the project shifted into high gear as the Lombardo's daughter's high school graduation party approached.
Turning to the outdoors, the couple decided to remove the leaking, old pool which sat vertical to the home, installing a new pool parallel to the house. The change would improve the flow of space in the private backyard, leaving plenty of greenspace for the family to enjoy other outdoor activities. Fresh paint and attention to the pool house and shed, as well as new landscaping and plenty of casual seating, would put the finishing touches on a long construction project well worth the wait.
“These homes have a lot of potential to feel brand new,” says Parish, of the home's original, nondescript interior and exterior. With a reimagined floor plan and special characteristics to make the home feel personalized, the house is the perfect place for this changing family of five.
However, the Lombardos are not in a rush to take on more remodeling projects. “You've got to really trust the designer and architect, that they know what really needs to get done to make you happy in the end,” says Cindy.