An engineer creates her dream home in Hebron

Imaginative and unconventional, an old cement block factory was renovated into a home that features a touch of antique charm mixed with a lot of industrial chic. This unique space is located in the small downtown area of Hebron, a Licking County village just a few miles from Buckeye Lake.

Sarah Prasher, a graduate of Granville High School and an engineer by training, discovered the home for sale when she was relocating back to Central Ohio after a promotion with Kohl’s, where she works in logistics. She toured the residence in early March, but the timing of her offer to buy it presented a few unexpected challenges. Ohio’s stay-at-home order soon went into effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising questions about when and how the closing process would work.

“Buying a home is stressful, but during COVID it definitely added a lot more unknowns,” says Prasher, who is not a first-time buyer. “I wasn’t sure if we would be able to close or if we would be able to hire movers to help me move.”

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Despite initial uncertainties, the process continued forward with some precautionary adjustments— paperwork and signatures were finalized from her car outside of the title agency in downtown Newark. Movers were hired and the following weeks of isolation worked in her favor.

“I’ve been able to work from home and continue to unpack and settle in a little more easily,” she says. “So that’s kind of been a blessing in some ways.”

Since moving in, Prasher has put her own touch on the surroundings. But she attributes the unique vision of the building’s previous owners for the dramatic change in the space, which was built sometime after World War II.

“They took this old, dilapidated building that had been vacant for probably decades, or so, and turned it into this beautiful space that I get to enjoy every day now,” she says.

Stretching about 2,000 square feet across a one-story layout, the refurbished home honors the building’s industrial roots in both design and detail—traits particularly noticeable in the vast main living space where the kitchen, a seating area and Prasher’s home office coexist.

Towering in the center of the space, a pair of cement columns climb from the smooth concrete floors to impressive wood-paneled ceilings that are 15 feet high. The light finish of the ceiling’s wood offers an earthy contrast to the home’s exposed air ducts and other utilitarian elements. Four oversized windows true to the warehouse’s original design flood the inside with natural light.

A weathered sliding door from the original entrance of the facility was cleverly integrated in the new design as an accent wall. It serves as a backdrop to the home entertainment center. With her mechanical engineer’s mindset in check, Prasher says she is working with her brother, a graphic designer, on devising a pulley system so that a large piece of artwork can be used to disguise the television when it is not in use.

“I’ve got my wheels turning, figuratively and literally, on how to make that happen,” says Prasher.

While some of the home’s features have been repurposed from the former structure, many were salvaged by the previous homeowners from other projects. “It’s pretty cool, all the stuff they had collected through the years and ended up putting in this project,” she says.

In the kitchen, an old workbench now functions as an island and an antique cupboard built into the wall offers storage. “I’m currently using it for my pantry. I love being able to see what I have at a glance,” she says.

She also appreciates the kitchen’s open shelving where her colorful assortment of Fiestaware and wine glasses are displayed. A set of vintage green pendent lights dispersed through the room continue the retro vibe, as stainless-steel appliances and a built-in wine fridge showcase modernity.

Off the main living quarters is a long, narrow hallway, which is brightened by a gallery of photos and colorful artwork. It leads to a full bath and two bedrooms. The corridor’s sloped, wood-paneled ceilings create architectural depth and interest, enhanced by small windows that allow light inside.

Sparkling white fixtures in the bathroom blend new and old—from the contemporary double sinks to a subway-tiled shower and freestanding tub both, which are reminiscent of times past. “I love the clawfoot tub—it’s great for soaking,” Prasher says. Warm wooden countertops and rustic finishes complete the look.

Back in the master bedroom, a large, walk-in closet offers ample storage. A commercial steel door, which mimics the front and back exterior doors, leads outside to a small concrete patio—an access point Prasher appreciates for walking her dog each morning. A narrow walkway along the front of the house connects to a large cement pad ideal for parking cars near the front entrance.

Prasher plans to soon add a two-car garage in the rear of the building, near where a back door opens to a mudroom-laundry area, and an additional half bath is located. As social distancing measures loosen, she looks forward to hosting friends and visiting Hebron’s restaurants, which are a short walk away.

“I think this has everything that I need,” she says. “It’s close to work, it’s close to family. It’s probably the coolest place I will ever live in my life, so, I think I’m here to stay.”

On the exterior of the home, Prasher welcomes guests with large potted plants and a fitting stainless-steel garden cart she’s had for years. A neighbor recently complimented the look, a reminder of the building’s long history in the community.

As is often true of small towns—some families go back generations. This is also true in Hebron where a couple of Prasher’s nearest neighbors have a unique connection to her home. “I haven’t met them yet, but my neighbors behind me, I believe, are the granddaughters of the original owner of this facility,” she says. “So, I need to get over there and introduce myself.”

Reprinted from the Columbus Monthly Home & Garden Fall/Winter 2020-21 issue.