Ryan Remodeling Built Post-and-Beam Home Featured in Cincinnati Enquirer

September 9, 2010

Three years ago, as the youngest of Larry and Kathy Smileys’ four children prepared to graduate from high school, the couple were ready for a commencement of their own. They were in the market for rural property where they could keep their three horses: They found it on an 11-acre spread on a Ross Township ridge.

“Originally, we thought we wanted a log house, but then we found out about timber-framed post-and-beam houses,” Kathy says. They contracted with Dennis Ryan of Midwest Timbercraft in Over-the-Rhine (www.midwesttimbercraft.com), who had built a post-and-beam house once and was eager to do another. The design came from Timberpeg, a specialty company they discovered online.

Looking for something “farmy,” as Kathy says, the Smileys were charmed by a plan that included an early American style exterior, complete with cupola. Its simple lines would harmonize with the barn and other outbuildings the couple planned, and it was large enough to provide one-floor living for Larry and Kathy, bedrooms to accommodate their children during occasional visits, and a spacious lower-level walk-out family room. With a few modifications to the plans – and their Wyoming house on the market – they were ready to start.

As they worked with Ryan, the Smileys’ goal was to integrate a variety of elements that would make their home rustic, yet comfortable and visually interesting. Kathy’s training as an interior designer proved valuable, as she and her husband drew on ideas for design and materials they noticed elsewhere.

From the stables at the Biltmore Estate came the idea to combine light knotty pine paneling and black metal accents. The Smileys used this wood paneling extensively on the home’s interior walls and ceiling, punctuating it with black metal hardware and fixtures. It’s also used in the staircase, where curving hammered metal balusters connect the wooden rails. The idea came from a picture Kathy found on the Web.

“We were always looking for things we liked,” Kathy explains, adding that she carried a camera with her during their house planning phase.

The home’s front door opens directly into the great room, with a dramatic cathedral ceiling and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace at one end. The dining area and kitchen are at the opposite end of this welcoming space. Thanks to several large windows and two ranks of clerestory windows, the room is bathed in light. One cluster of living room furniture is grouped near the large window that overlooks pastureland and woods. A small square table and comfy chairs are situated in front of the fireplace.

“I like older furniture,” Kathy says, noting that the new house is furnished with what she and her husband have lived with for years, including a few cherished heirlooms.
Kathy Smiley is an accomplished cook. Her large and well-equipped kitchen is separated from the rest of the great room by a wide, granite-topped counter that serves as work and eating surface. Whether she’s cooking for her husband or a crowd, Kathy’s able to enjoy the company of others as she works.

Deciding that the kitchen woodwork should complement (but not duplicate) the knotty pine paneling, the couple chose knotty alder for the cabinets, which were made by Mark I Custom Carpentry in Lockland. The granite countertops are a mottled pattern in black, cream, brown and gold; the sink and faucets are black, like the cabinet hardware.
The open staircase leading up to the second floor carries out the wood and black metal look, with curved hammered metal balusters between wooden rails. Kathy found a design online that Ryan used as a starting point.

Family treasures are at the heart of the Smileys’ home. A framed collection of lace made by Kathy’s great-grandmother hangs on one wall of the master bedroom, a perfect complement to the room’s traditional Americana d├ęcor.

Shallow shelves in the hallway between bedroom and bathroom display a collection of small pottery objects. And the Smileys designed the master bath around an antique cabinet that they bought for $1 when they were dating, complementing its weathered wood with textured tile and river stone finishes.

The powder room, likewise, has several nostalgic touches.

“This is the first mirror I remember ever looking into,” she says of the antique piece that hangs above the sink. That basin, made of sculpted black metal, was a find on a trip to Mexico. Holding up the basin and its granite counter is a stand of wrought iron made by Hartwell-based Lukens Blacksmiths.

Throughout the house, there are nice surprises: On the open, mezzanine-like walkway between bedrooms on the second floor is a wide space that the couple has made into a music alcove, with grand piano, two chairs and a small table. A simple flight of stairs from this space leads up to a loft.

Another, narrower loft is built into one wall of daughter A.J.’s bedroom.

“Our neighbor kids love to come over and play up here,” says Kathy.

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