A Sleek and Functional Renovation on the Scioto

A couple creates sleek, minimalist comfort inspired by Aspen in their Northwest Columbus home.

Virginia Brown
A mix of rough timbers and modern railings gives this home the ideal warm spaces for comfortable living along the Scioto River.

In a hidden pocket of Northwest Columbus, a white heron glides along the steady flow of the Scioto River. Two deer walk the bank and a blue jay plops onto a feeder, sending it swinging. This isn’t a wildlife preserve, it’s Karen and Mike Weprin’s backyard. 

“If weather permits, our air is off and every window possible is open and this is where we are,” says Karen of her newly renovated outdoor living space.

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The Weprins are originally from Dayton, Ohio. “We always said, if we could get two of our grown children to land in one city, we’d move there,” Karen says. All three ended up in Columbus, so six years ago the couple moved to Blacklick. Soon, though, they had other thoughts about where they wanted to live. 

“We had a beautiful home, but we just never felt it out there,” Karen says. “We love projects. We love change.” One day, while on a drive, Mike said he thought it might be nice to live on the river. 

This rustic retreat was updated for former Dayton residents who followed their adult children to Columbus. They love the space, in part, because it reminds them of their Aspen home, where they spend part of each year.

Karen looked to Zillow and a few other websites, searching for riverfront homes. When she got to this house, the living room’s massive, exposed, overhead wooden beams—believed to be over 250 years old—sealed the deal. 

“We spend half of our lives in Colorado, which plays into why we landed here,” says Karen. The beams and overall feel inside the house, she says, felt like Aspen. 

“I knew if we could redo the kitchen and the bedroom, I would be OK with it,” she says, adding that they have at least partially renovated every home they’ve lived in. “In Colorado, we built [our home], but by far this is our biggest project.” 

The Weprins worked with Hale Construction Co. designer Alyson Kaufman and operations manager Laura Lemon for the duration of the project, which began in the fall of 2019. They stored their belongings and lived out of the master bedroom, finally reclaiming their furniture in August 2020. 

To make the project successful, “constant communication was key,’’ Karen says. “We texted nonstop, which was great, and I fell in love with the girls. The project became very comfortable.” 

She also wanted the Hale team to fully understand her personal style. “It was really important to me that when they would source materials, they learned my vibe. I’m not shiny. I don’t like gray. I like things very organic and super casual,” she says. “We are not fancy people, and everything needs to be user-friendly.” 

Because she has updated homes before, Karen made decisions with relative ease—light wooden floors and cabinetry complement other natural elements, such as stone. Simple, streamlined accents fill the home. 

“I know who I am and what I want,” says Karen. “We are super casual people, so I want to be able to put my feet on anything.” They also have a huge extended family who visit often, so space and function are key. 

To work toward an open, airy flow, they tore out several interior walls. “It was very segmented, with tiny individual rooms,” says Lemon. Opening up the space and adding full walls of windows helped to increase natural light, which was a major factor since the house was also dark. 

So that the Weprins could stay in the house during renovation, “the master suite was a priority, and then everything else on the first floor,” says Lemon. They also wanted a full overhaul to add a connected master bathroom. 

“This is the largest renovation we’ve done where someone lived through it,” Lemon added. 

Originally a study, the new owners’ bathroom proved to be one of the biggest changes. “The entire current bathroom space comprised a bedroom, bathroom, and closet,” says Lemon. “If the rest of the house was a maze, the master bathroom was a fun house.” 

Today, vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting, glass shower doors and a long double vanity give the new master bath a clean, spacious feel. After demolition, Karen says, “We captured so much space that we decided to have his-and-her washrooms and toilets.” 

The closet, hidden off the far end of the new bathroom, is large and well-lit, with built-ins for hanging clothes, and floor-to ceiling shelves for dozens of pairs of shoes. 

On the other side of the house, in the kitchen, they added a long, rectangular island and adjacent sitting area with a fireplace. All of the appliances, including a double-door refrigerator, are hidden in cabinetry. 

Off the dining room, they removed a spiral staircase and added a spacious pantry. 

A large-scale, horizontal photograph with red sweeping designs fills the dining room wall. 

The couple bought it in an Aspen art shop, so it was one of the only nonnegotiable focal points Karen wanted to include. It’s also one of the only bright color accents in the home, which pulls from a neutral and natural color palette. 

“It was definitely function over form,” says Lemon. “That was a huge driving force.” 

This story is from the October 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.