A grand update in a 150-year-old home

Last year, one of Nate and Sadie Speiser's dream homes became available. It was a 150-year-old house located in the center of downtown Granville. The couple, who were expecting their first child and not planning to move, found themselves closing an offer on the historic fixer upper.

Originally built in 1864 with later additions in the 1920s and '70s, the home appealed to the couple for its charm and character. But they noticed that it was lacking in practical function for their modern lifestyle. “I knew there was so much potential, but it needed a lot of work,” says Sadie, adding that there was intensive deadline pressure given the pending arrival of the couple's son. Among the most problematic areas of the home was a tiny kitchen and large adjoining four-season sunroom situated in the heart of the main level.

Hoping to strike a balance between preserving the history of the house and modernizing it, the couple turned to architect Todd Parker of F5 Design/Architecture Inc. and the building experts at The Hale Construction Co. in New Albany. In turn, the team created a fresh layout with timeless features that would blend old and new seamlessly.

“With [the kitchen] being the bridge between the classic, old 1864 [home] and the 1970s add-on, we really tried to tie everything together,” Nate explains.

Starting with the complete removal of the four-season room, the kitchen was flipped to the opposite side of the house and expanded, making the entire midsection of the home one cohesive kitchen with an open dining area. To help maximize the sense of space, ceilings were heightened and doorway openings, leading from the front of the house to the back, were enlarged.

“This flip was essential in facilitating openness on the floor,” says project manager Austin Cummins of Hale Construction. The new layout, with large windows over the perimeter kitchen counters, enables the kitchen to maintain a sunny, indoor-outdoor feeling that was previously offered with the four-season room. It also provides the space necessary for an enhanced dining area and broad entryway from the driveway.

To help the homeowners hide clutter, in one end of the kitchen custom lockers and a bench were made to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets and installed near the exterior door as a convenient drop-zone for coats, shoes, keys and phone chargers. A large walk-in pantry built from borrowed space in the front formal living room stores other items.

In the kitchen, a large, marble island makes a statement in the center space, offering storage and seating, while surrounding quartz countertops provide practical workspace for preparing meals. Nodding to the home's past, weathered gray oak hardwood floors were installed to match the original flooring in the front of the home and a brick wall was left exposed. New finishes and upgraded appliances in the kitchen add modern touches.

“Working on this project was like working in a time machine,” adds Cummins. “The homeowners saw a lot of potential in this home when they purchased it.”

Completed just in time to welcome home their son, the couple plans to make this a forever house. “The minute we got in here it [felt] like home,” Sadie says.