Home: A Modern House Born from a Victorian Village Duplex

Nancy Byron
The first floor of the home provides plenty of open space for entertaining. An efficient kitchen features white cabinetry and a gray island, while nearby family room furnishings are modern and fresh. A fireplace, not shown, is trimmed in faux tigerwood to better fit its modern environment.

A local couple planned to build a small carriage house next to the Victorian Village duplex that they were renovating. Instead, Megan and Jordan Tarrier ended up with a three-story, two-bedroom home of their own.

“I figured it would just be a garage,” says Megan of the construction project. When the Tarriers purchased the Hunter Avenue duplex with its extended yard back in 2015, their intent was to renovate the space and then live in one half while they rented the other half out. “We didn't think we could get a house big enough to live in on that lot. When we got the initial drawings, we were blown away,” she adds.

Today the former Upper Arlington couple has a custom-built, 1,693-square-foot, Arts-and-Crafts-style home with an attached two-car garage just a few feet away from their initial renovation project.

“The home far, far exceeds our expectations,” says Megan, noting their previous ranch house in Upper Arlington was roughly the same size. “It's a quiet urban oasis that is perfect for a couple like us that wants to live in a neighborhood but be steps away from all the action the Short North provides.”

Adds her husband, Jordan: “I love being able to park the car and walk places all weekend.”

Saving Space

Getting two full baths, an open living area for entertaining, a master suite with a walk-in closet, and a guest room tucked neatly into the home without it feeling crowded was no simple task.

Dean Berlon, principal architect with Urbanorder architecture, was up to the challenge.

“Every project has constraints on lot size, setbacks, budget or something else,” Berlon says. “This was a smaller urban lot so we knew it would be a challenge to get everything to fit, especially when most of the first floor would be needed for the two-car garage, but in our experience we knew it was possible.”

Creative, hidden storage under the kitchen island, behind two walls in the master suite and below the foyer helped maximize living space. Then it was all about developing an aura of openness across the remaining square footage.

“The key to making it feel more spacious is creating sightlines through the house that end in windows to expand the perceived view past the actual walls of the home,” Berlon says.

Oversized casement windows grace all four sides of the home—a rarity in any new build—and every room has light-enhancing solar shades or gauzy sheers providing privacy without inhibiting natural light. High ceilings in the main living area, a vaulted ceiling in the third-floor master suite, and an abundance of overhead lighting also brightens and extends the space.

“For its small size, the living areas in our home feel spacious and inviting,” Megan says. “Additionally, on such a small lot, we were surprised by the amount of functional outdoor space.”

The home features an elevated deck over a paver patio, a small pet yard with artificial K9 grass, and a covered front-porch sitting area.

“We spend most of our weekends in the spring and summer out on the deck,” Jordan says.

“It's like treehouse living,” adds Berlon.

Fitting In

Despite its modern, open floor plan, the home's exterior needed to mesh well with the surrounding Victorian Village area, which dates back more than 110 years.

“We wanted to be respectful to the neighborhood,” says Megan. “We didn't want people walking by and saying, ‘Look, there's the new build.'”

The couple chose a neutral, yet stylish, aged pewter HardiePlank siding, with white trim that has a grid pattern near the classic peaked roof. “You want to knit yourself into the fabric of the neighborhood, but still have some details that stand out,” Berlon says.

A similar mindset prevailed when the Tarriers wanted a fireplace—a rather traditional amenity in Victorian-style homes—but decided to float it a few inches above the floor to give it a more modern appearance. Wrapping the fireplace in faux tigerwood, instead of traditional brick or stone, also lightened the space while keeping it visually interesting.

Similarly, Jordan worked with builder Derrick Layer to custom mix the stain for the kitchen and living room floors, producing a distinctive gray tone while maintaining an overall classic look.

“All those little things pull a house together,” Layer says.

Starting Fresh

Just about everything the Tarriers owned was already in use next door in the duplex, so their designer, John Wilson, owner of CRI Interiors, started with a blank slate. “It's always exciting to do a whole house,” Wilson says. “I usually start with lighting. I think that's the most important accessory; it's the earrings to the outfit. It creates mood.”

Each space within the home has an eye-catching light fixture that complements its surroundings and creates a cohesive feel. For instance, the large, round, four-tiered chandelier over the circular dining table creates an elegant, yet contemporary, look. A pair of striking, oversized geometric pendant lights above the 10.5-foot quartz island in the kitchen complements the clean lines of the cabinetry and professional stainless steel range. Upstairs, the master suite includes a miniature cut-glass chandelier encircled loosely by a wrought-iron sphere.

“You see a lot of different things that command your attention, but they all play well with each other,” Wilson says. “Every detail really is a coordinate with something else.”

Recurring patterns and color schemes connect all three stories—from wallpaper accents in the foyer and bathroom to fabrics on the couch, throw pillows and floor coverings—creating an illusion of openness and continuity. “John even found a rug for the master bedroom that had the same inlay as the pattern on the stairs,” marvels Megan.

“The flow is really what makes it beautiful,” Wilson says. “They do enjoy a little more of the elegant elements, but they still want you to take off your shoes, kick up your feet and have a glass of wine.”