A couple creates a dream renovation when two rough buildings are joined to become the base of their home.

Jason Slagle and Jennifer McGann called Italian Village home before it was one of the city’s trendiest areas. They lived in a house on nearby Hamlet Street before purchasing an industrial site to create their dream home.

“We used to walk our dogs back here and it was no man’s land,” says Slagle. He wrote a letter to the former owner to inquire about future plans for the property. (The roofing company that was previously based there was no longer operating from the space.) Several months later, the couple received a reply that the owner was open to selling the land and the buildings on it.

The couple sold their home on Hamlet and purchased the current lot. Because the property had only been approved for commercial zoning, McGann and Slagle had to apply for a residential permit with the city, a process that proved challenging.

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Then, they hired architect Steven Hurtt from Urban Order to develop floor plans. The owners wanted to connect the two buildings on the property, and a second story was to be constructed to create a singular home with a very modern feel. Slagle, a contractor, was able to do a lot of the construction work, making the project perhaps more manageable.

The original building at the front of the lot was without a main entrance so Hurtt suggested building a small landing porch and an entryway for greeting guests.

From the onset of the project, McGann and Slagle knew they wanted their home to be open with plenty of natural light. And, they installed floor-to-ceiling garage doors in the living room and kitchen’s exterior walls, allowing for views directly into the yard and beyond.

Because of the home’s history, an industrial aesthetic flows throughout the space. The house is now 3,750 square feet, featuring two offices, a gym and a guest suite on the first floor, all located directly off the open living and dining areas. The kitchen is 400 square feet with a 100-square-foot pantry—providing space that allows for easy entertaining. McGann, a marketing director for Bon Appetit Management Company, says she wanted two kitchen islands: one for her personal use when preparing food and a second for congregating guests.

Slagle says they tried to keep original parts of the building intact, whenever possible, to preserve its history. For example, there is a loading dock located off one of the current office spaces. This originated from the roofing company, and this is where the movers unloaded the couple’s belongings.

A big challenge during the project was planning the second-floor addition, which connects the two original structures. The couple wanted to expose steel and trusses to accentuate the home’s industrial tones. Slagle says this required more insulation, which meant the second story ceilings needed to be higher.

The owners’ suite on the second floor features large windows showcasing the Columbus skyline. The master closet, bathroom and laundry area are located directly above the kitchen. McGann wanted to bring the outdoors inside in the master bathroom, creating a ledge in the shower below a small window that is just large enough to hold plants. “It was a stark space and needed some life,” she says.

An open stairway flows between the home’s two floors, with a large wall of preserved moss a focal point on the stairway landing. Directly below the landing is a bar located conveniently near the kitchen. Slagle, who is also a skilled welder, built the steel frame for the bar and a friend custom created the cabinetry.

The couple installed an open water valve under the lower stairs so their two dogs can get their own water as needed. Slagle also created a large floor lamp in the living room. Artwork throughout the home includes several pieces by Amy Shepherd, who has also showcased her work at Cowtown Art, a Short North art gallery and shop previously owned by Slagle.

The property features ample outdoor entertainment space, which is unusual for Italian Village lots. There is a grilling and seating area, as well as a covered lanai where guests can relax, especially on rainy days. This space is where the couple hosted their annual garden party late last summer, which has been a tradition with their neighbors and friends for many years.

Years ago, the party started when McGann and Slagle lived in their previous home. They had permission to have a community garden on a vacant lot nearby, and neighbors each had their own plots to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs. Produce from the gardens created the annual feast. Large tables were erected and there was space for bocce ball, too. McGann, who loves to cook, handled the main entrees and neighbors brought the side dishes. Eventually, the lot was slated for development and a new party space was needed.

So, McGann and Slagle hosted the party last fall in their yard, soon after their home was opened for viewing during the Short North Tour of Homes. The table for the feast accommodated 40 people and stretched across the yard.

McGann and Slagle joke that they could write a book filled with lessons they have learned during this industrial renovation. There were certainly days that were challenging, but it was worth it, especially since “we don’t ever intend to leave this house,” says Slagle. McGann adds that her partner “is good at having a vision for these things,” and while she couldn’t always picture the final result, she trusted it would be great once finished.

By all appearances, her instincts were right.

Reprinted from Columbus Monthly Home & Garden Spring/Summer 2020.