Empty nesters remodel a sprawling Worthington abode to welcome friends and family.

After buying an empty nester home when their three children moved out, a Worthington couple never imagined that two years later they would buy a 13,000-square-foot home just three doors away from the first one.

The much larger home was a casualty of the recession—beautiful construction, but with many of the ailments that come with a foreclosed property: missing appliances, more than a hundred light fixtures removed, a fireplace hook-up without the mantel. On the surface, there was plenty of work to be done, but what had started as a walk-through tour out of curiosity turned into enthusiasm for the home's charm and a vision for what the space could become. Renovations on the couple's new purchase began in January 2012.

Getting started wasn't easy. With large empty holes and undefined lower level rooms to fill, the new homeowners struggled to make sense of certain spaces. “Various things were gone,” says the woman of the house. “It kind of became a guessing game.” For help with the project, they called designers Leann Snyder and Beth Ault, with whom they had worked on their previous home.

“When we walked in, we were like, ‘Wow,'” says Ault, of their initial surprise at the enormity and inherent beauty of the house. With stone archways, large windows, dark-stained trim and 10-foot ceilings

throughout the main floor, the home's original details and character were impressive. “A lot of this was here,” Ault says, comparing the space to a cozy castle. “It had good bones, so you just go with that.”

One of the main priorities for the first level was to enhance the home's overall sense of flow. Awkward walls enclosing a former dining room near the entryway were removed to highlight stone archways. New hardwood floors were installed to replace carpeting. Because the home already had an expansive dining area next to the kitchen, the original dining room was turned into a piano room with comfortable seating.

An unusually placed alcove with a fireplace in an area near the kitchen was made into a quaint seating nook, becoming the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine with friends. A nearby bar adds convenience. “The openness is amazing because everyone wants to be close to the kitchen,” says the homeowner.

While the kitchen saw its share of updates, including a new range hood, custom panels that hide new appliances, a fresh backsplash and updated light fixtures installed above the island, existing custom cabinetry and granite countertops provided a good base for the overall design. “All in all, the kitchen is in a great location, it has great flow and it's big,” says Ault, so it was really just about personalizing the details to the homeowner's preferences.

Just past the dining area, where a six-person table is centered beneath a faux painted ceiling, an updated living room with built-in shelving and a fireplace overlooks a private backyard bordering Antrim Park, serving as another comfortable place for family and friends to congregate. Two gutted and redesigned half-baths and separate office spaces are tucked away on opposite ends of the first level, near front and back staircases, giving the couple and their guests plenty of room to spread out.

“It's amazing because we use every room,” she says. “I think it's because it's so open and because you can flow through rooms.”

The lower level is designed around modern amenities and creature comforts meant to make friends and family feel welcome. At the heart of the space is a large, U-shaped leather sectional surrounding three 80-inch TVs positioned side-by-side on the wall, a feature especially appreciated on Buckeye game days. An old bar was expanded and updated, and a wall framed with brick archways was made into a showcase for Buckeye memorabilia.

Much like the home's main level, the lower level offers a number of seating areas, including a cozy sectional positioned around a fireplace. The enhanced backyard includes a fire pit, a putting green and a wet bar done by landscape designer Erin Hendricks. Additional outdoor dining and seating areas and a kitchen extend the livable lower level space during the warm-weather months.

“We had all these high ceilings and didn't know what to do with the spaces,” says the woman of the house, regarding the lower level. While a few ideas were tossed around, the man of the house, an avid golfer, decided to transform one of the unused spaces into a golf simulation room fully equipped with a large screen, a hitting mat, a video swing capture system and a wide variety of virtual courses to play.

The woman of the house chose to turn the remaining room into a movie theater. Opting for a historic Ohio Theatre vibe, complete with elegant colors, details include velvet curtains outlining the screen and antique, beaded glass chandeliers. The space is set up with stadium seating that features 14 reclining chairs, each with its own cup holder, blanket and 3-D glasses. Stair lights and a convenient bar stocked with candy, beverages and popcorn creates an authentic big-screen experience. “It took a village,” says Ault, of the many people and meetings involved in creating these spaces.

The home's many spaces have been designed to share with loved ones, including five spare bedrooms and four full guest baths on the second level. A young granddaughter is a frequent guest. Others include the homeowners' adult children, extended family and plenty of friends.

Yet when the homeowners need a private retreat, the master suite is their private space.

Two columns surrounding double doors open to a spacious master bedroom with furniture repurposed from the previous home. A fabric window seat with lighting creates a cozy nook, and more seating is available surrounding the nearby fireplace. A coffee bar provides the perfect early morning convenience.

Walk-in closets are positioned across from each other, leading to the master bath where a large soaking tub is centered in the space. A walk-in steam shower, drying room and separate vanities exude luxury.

Even though the couple wanted to downsize and simplify, the home continues to function well for their current lifestyle. “We do all of the holidays and a lot of entertaining [for family and friends],” says the woman of the house. “We always say if you don't have someplace to go, just come here because we have plenty of room.”