Empty Nesters Launch a New Phase in New Albany

Laurie Allen
The homeowners completely changed the color palette that they'd previously used when they went for lighter, airier tones for their new home.

Two New Albany empty nesters saw an opportunity to create the home of their dreams just a few miles from the house where they had lived for 23 years. At a time of life when many think they should be downsizing, this couple clearly opted out of that notion.

The classic Georgian home they purchased sits on a quiet street among mature trees in a parklike setting “the way New Albany was envisioned,” says the woman of the house. She and her husband purchased the 7,500-square-foot home, their third in New Albany, in the summer of 2019. Built by Romanelli and Hughes, the house was on the 1992 BIA Parade of Homes and carries with it the sign from the tour, which has stayed through succeeding owners.

Renovation started as soon as the deal closed, and the couple moved in last December during a hectic pre-holiday rush. The extensive renovation was completed. It involved nearly all of the first floor living spaces, recreating rooms to retain a traditional feel but to now capture the lightness and airiness of a more modern aesthetic.

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Furnishings for the space, accompanied by expansive views of the now mature beauty outside their windows, capture the look and feel for which they were striving. “The entire house is oriented to the way we live,” the woman says. “It makes me happy.”

A feature that originally captivated the man of the house was the way the sunlight enhances its setting. “The light in this house is fantastic,” he says. “We wanted to take advantage of the way the sun rises and sets, from the front of the house to the back.

The two professionals used their keen creative skills to focus on facets of the home that were in dire need of update. Flooring was the first to be considered.

What was once a mix of tile, carpet and wood common in the 1990s was upgraded. Installed were 5,000 square feet of select grade, quarter-sawn, white oak planks that are 5-1/4-inches wide. The new wood was custom stained to match preexisting hardwood floors.

The kitchen, which the homeowner says was “very beautiful in the style of its time,” received the most attention. High-end, stainless appliances remained but surfaces and cabinets took on an entirely new look with Vermont-sourced marble emphasized throughout. Porter Fine Woodworking, which did cabinetry throughout the home, fashioned new cabinets on existing framework.

The Imperial Danby marble used in the countertops features soft gray, gold and bronze veining. “We wanted clean lines in the kitchen and wanted some warmth to the marble, and the Imperial Danby accomplishes that. It makes a statement,” says the woman of the house.

Solazzo Marble and Granite fabricated and installed the marble, matching veining and grain so it appears that all the surfaces are from one slab. The couple had to purchase double the amount needed, so that appropriate matches to the veining could be made. Some of the leftover marble was used to help create a pedestal sink in a first-floor powder room.

A top priority for the homeowners was to retain and accentuate architectural features such as the home’s arches, says Brian Tuckerman of Grand Construction, which oversaw the project. Cabinetry and other modifications achieve that goal. “It’s a much more stately home now,” says Tuckerman.

Excess materials and furnishings from the project were donated to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio.

The new homeowners planned to completely refresh their home décor as part of the project. Their previous, traditional space featured dark wooden antiques and dark fabrics, as well as a palette of greens, reds and browns, which worked better with the wear and tear of rearing children, they explained.

Now that their two children have launched into their own careers in other cities, the homeowners felt free to make more personal selections in the home’s design. “We took a lighter approach to the interior design, using cool blues, cream, khakis and grays,” the homeowner says. “Its hues complement the beauty of the outdoors. The entire design approach was to go lighter in color and work in some of our antiques but with contemporary items as well,” she says.

The richness of brown still appears in the strains of the marble, some furniture and accessories, which include a collection of equestrian paintings reflecting the family’s experience in the sport.

Designers Susan Herrold of Holt and Herrold Interiors in Washington, D.C., and Shauna Lehman of Shauna Lehman Interiors in Bexley, chose paints, floor stains and furnishings with an eye toward seamlessly mixing the various elements to achieve the look the homeowners sought.

In the great room adjacent to the kitchen, original built-ins were removed and a new furniture configuration was created. “It was fun to arrange the room to take advantage of its place among mature trees, the gardens, fountain and natural features outside the windows,” the homeowner says.

An iconic, 5 ½-foot, hand-carved limestone fireplace became a stronger focal point in the room once the surrounding built-in television cabinetry and shelving were removed. A flat-screen TV is now on an opposite wall near the windows and the main conversation area. A landscape in oil by Granville-based Paul Hamilton hangs above the fireplace, and is flanked by simple, tasteful wall sconces. Two swivel chairs and an ottoman create an intimate conversation area.

The coup de grace of furnishings in the area is a 96-inch Ferrell Mittman Flynn sofa in a mélange wool boucle fabric. Two nearby club chairs are covered in coordinating fabric. A Ralph Lauren coffee table is at the center of the seating area and the room is accessorized with antique ship bureaus, Vaughn Camden square etagere tables with brown shagreen, and a collection of Staffordshire dogs.

Upstairs, a daughter’s bedroom went from a carpeted boy’s room decorated in browns to one that has a “feminine and uplifting feel without looking too much like a little girl’s room,” the woman of the house says. “As a recent college grad, she won’t be living with us full-time any more, but we wanted a room for her to come home to that felt like her own and not a guest room.”

The room is enveloped in Schumacher Chenonceau wallpaper in a color called sky, which is a monochromatic scheme featuring a subtle pattern of birds and botanicals. “It’s a modern twist on a floral,” says the woman of the house. She first spotted the wallcovering at a historic inn in Washington, D.C., where she and her husband stayed while attending a lacrosse tournament.

A white-and-chestnut-colored cowhide rug purchased at the Quarter Horse Congress serves as a counterpoint to the wallcoverings, and a pagoda mirror from a West Palm Beach vintage shop has been painted in high-gloss Sherwin Williams Knockout Orange to provide a pop of unique color. Kate Spade New York swing-arm sconces are at the sides of the bed, and windows are simply dressed in white linen panels.

Other projects include a total revamp of the home’s entry hall and graceful staircase, as well as its lower level. In the front hallway, stair railings were painted in high-gloss ebony, and a dark blue Stark leopard print carpet runner lends an artistic flair. The couple replaced the original, large light fixture with a statement fixture created from deer antlers that was purchased about 20 years ago at a fine furniture store.

The home’s furnishings and accessories came from retailers both in Columbus and outside of Central Ohio. “There is a lot to get in Columbus,” says the woman of the house. “There are a lot of good resources here.”

Now that they have had plenty of time to settle in, the homeowners are thrilled with the renovations. The man of the house credits the contractors who “did an amazing job of bringing this thing home in a very tight time frame,” he says. Besides the natural lighting in the home, the man of the house says his favorite part is the fact that his wife loves it so much.

Meanwhile, his wife is very happy with the refreshed décor. “I got to start over and from my own style and create a home that feels like home,” she says.

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

The home's kitchen was reimagined with cabinets built on existing frames.