A suburban couple decides to open their first floor space

Joe and Julie Proudfoot’s home renovation was finished the day before Ohio’s stay-at-home order took effect last spring. Their timing was excellent given the disruptions in supply chains and abrupt halt of installation projects that followed. Plans for a traditional housewarming, however, were deeply affected.

Instead, in the months that have followed, the couple has hosted intimate family gatherings to celebrate the new space. “It’s great when people can sit here and interact,” says Julie. “I like that this home is open and very welcoming.”

She and her husband attribute the just-in-time job completion to luck. “We were very happy about this,” she says. The Hale Construction Company of New Albany finished the renovation on time and earlier than an original estimate.

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The couple’s main renovation goal for their 5,000-square-foot home in New Albany was to open the first floor to connect kitchen and living areas, which creates a functional, eye-pleasing family space. Most of the work occurred in the kitchen, where contractors removed a structural wall that carried the roof load of the three-story home.

“We had to dig out part of the basement concrete slab and install posts in the basement in addition to the beam on the first floor,” says Laura Lemon, a spokesperson for Hale Construction. The result was “definitely worth it though,” says Lemon. The couple agrees.

Having a proactive, responsive construction team and a lower-level working kitchen spared the family from having their lives uprooted during the 10-week project. Nonetheless, because of the beam situation, they were entering an unknown zone. They didn’t know how extensive the renovation would be. “It was like the money pit,” Joe says, with a hint of a laugh.

With the structural wall removed, everything else evolved. A two-tier island became larger and counter-height, capable of seating seven. Surfaces, windows, lighting and colors visually expand the space, which includes an informal dining spot on one end and a wide opening to the great room on the other.

The home was built in 1997 and felt “very choppy” when the family became its new owners in 2017, Julie says. “All the rooms were closed off, and there were pockets that felt very dark.” In this renovation, the couple wanted to create an airy, livable space while preserving the home’s Georgian character.

The new space retains a traditional feel with moldings, windows and framing. The color palette is subtle, with bits of glitz found in lighting fixtures. In the kitchen, custom-built Amish cabinets made in Millersport were painted an ivory hue to match existing trim, and black cabinetry in the butler’s pantry was custom matched to furniture in the adjacent dining room. Undercabinet and interior lighting brighten the nook.

Konkus Marble & Granite fabricated the Ellipse Quartz countertops in the color Olympus, which Julie describes as white with taupe and gray veining. Underneath it all is white oak flooring stained a cocoa color. Thermador appliances marry form and function in the renovated space.

Initially concerned about losing valuable cabinet space when the wall—which housed storage and the refrigerator—came down, Julie finds she has “10 times more storage now.”

While the overall tone of the project is one of quiet sophistication, Julie adds that she got braver when it came to lighting, cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures. She chose faucets and cabinet pulls in a brushed brass, and the three large pendants over the island are in dark bronze, appearing almost gray. Similar finishes are found in other light fixtures, some of which sparkle with an extra “bling” factor featuring crystals or intricate metal work. “I tried to mix up the lighting fixtures while at the same time making them coordinate with one another,” Julie says. “I totally think mixing metals is fine.”

The entire first-floor renovation totaled about 1,700 square feet, about 500 of which are in the kitchen. Joe praises the Hale construction team for getting the job done on time “with no real drama,” he says. “They exceeded our expectations. With other projects, I’ve had to grab them (contractors) by the shirt collar to speak with them.”

Asked to name their favorite part of the renovation, the Proudfoots’ didn’t hesitate before agreeing that it was the wine frig. With glasses of wine in hand, they sometimes retreat to the formal living room where they spend time in quiet conversation while the children play nearby.

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