A Reimagined Ranch Home in Granville Evolves to Fit Its Owners’ Needs

A 1970s home on 7 acres becomes the unexpected forever home of a Central Ohio couple, who moved in with four children and are now empty nesters.

Jill Span Hofbauer
A cozy sitting area with a working fireplace sits adjacent to the dining room in this 1976 ranch in Granville.

When a former Granville couple returned to the area to plant roots in 2004, they purchased a 1976 ranch with temporary plans in mind. A timepiece of its era, the home—among the few available on the market at that time—was designed with a Southwestern motif, iconic ’70s trappings and an unfavorable layout for their family of six.

Yet the dwelling’s initial shortcomings presented a significant alternative to the nearly 4,000-square-foot Michigan residence they were ready to leave behind—a chance for a slower pace of life in a community they previously lived in and loved. “I had a pretty big and highly stressful job,” recalls the husband of the family, who worked for a large advertising agency in Detroit at the time, and his wife had her hands full with four kids. “We took some time off, and we just realized, ‘You know what, let’s rethink our lives here. … We’re on this rat race, and let’s try to get off of it no matter what.’”

Together, the couple shifted their priorities and took a chance. Building on the valuable professional connections they made throughout their careers, they opened their own advertising agency and bought the dated home on a scenic, 7-acre property. Seventeen years later, they reflect endearingly on how a steppingstone home evolved into an ideal empty nest.

“What happened is that we moved in, somehow we found a place for all of our four kids, and things just got so busy for us,” adds the homeowner. Their company successfully took off managing several national clients in the restaurant industry, their kids were involved with school and activities, and the house became somewhat of an afterthought. “Over time, we just started making little changes to the house here and there, not really thinking much about it because other things were taking our priority.”

An early matter of attention was a 1,000-square-foot owner’s suite addition completed in 2007. The added space enabled the homeowners to transplant the suite from its original, awkward placement in the basement to a more practical location on the main level, improving the overall sense of flow.

Later, in 2011, they converted a screened-in porch only usable half the year into a sunroom with windows overlooking the gardens and expansive wooded property. Cozy furnishings and cheery, pale-yellow walls have made the space one of the homeowners’ favorite places to unwind in the evenings, take in the sunsets and watch the active wildlife that calls their backyard home.

Nearby, the revamped galley kitchen, completed in 2018, showcases custom-designed, Amish-made cabinetry and built-in wall storage in the adjoining dining area, where a custom table serves as the perfect gathering place while hosting their large family.

The homeowners say that all the functional and aesthetic improvements they have made to the interior and exterior over the years could amount to tearing it down and rebuilding it completely. “My concern was, I thought this house was going to be way too small,” says the man of the house, “and now, everything just has really comfortable proportions to it.” It has an informality that reflects the couple’s sensibilities and current lifestyle, and a warmth and intimacy that makes visitors feel welcome.

In recent years, the property has also given the pair the ability to bring their work life close to home. By fortunate chance, they finished an on-site studio in 2019 right before the start of the pandemic,transitioning their business from a large clientele, full staff and office space in Newark, Ohio, to a manageable workload for two as they approach retirement years.

Repurposed from an old utility barn on the property, the studio is a stone’s throw from their house and has been thoughtfully laid out to accommodate the close collaboration their work as a creative team requires. Currently designed with three work stations and a seating area conducive to interaction, the reimagined structure offers possibilities for other creative ventures the couple say they may choose to pursue down the road.

With nearly every square inch of the house modified, their latest project—a refurbished basement in 2021—feels like a full circle moment. Early renovations in the home started as a way to expand the house for their four kids and continues today as they make improvements to tailor it for their adult children returning to visit with partners.

The refinished lower level is set up as a roomy guest suite suitable for long stays. A private bedroom with a designated work station enables remote work flexibility, and a full bath provides privacy and convenience. On the opposite side of the basement, a hangout area with a pool table adds fun recreational space.

Though the empty nesters say they never thought it would be their forever home, they appreciate the way the house has been able to bend and shape around their ever-changing lifestyle throughout the years. They never needed to seek out their dream house, because the home they already had turned out to be enough.

“We thought we had this whole thing planned out—that we were just going to be here for a couple of years and move on,” recalls the homeowner, “and that did not happen—and it worked out perfectly for us.”

This story is from the February 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.