Whole House Renovation Featured in Remodeling Magazine

November 11, 2010

Opposites Attract

Classic on the outside, contemporary on the inside—this house proves that with the right design, this unlikely pairing can succeed.

Remodel Magazine April-May 2009

The old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover applies to this 1990s Colonial in Cincinnati. The home’s traditional exterior hides all clues to the contemporary vibe of its renovated interior—well, almost all. The new glass front door, with an etched grid and a mahogany frame, hints at the modern meets-traditional blend inside. “The front door doesn’t jump out at you as something from another period,” architect Cynthia Williams says. “But then it’s like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, there’s something a little different going on here.’”

The homeowners challenged Williams to overhaul the interior without adding square footage or running afoul of the home’s classic roots. While some designers might find this daunting, Williams believes new and old can blendin interesting and refreshing ways.

The first step was to open the main level’s choppy floor plan. The architect removed a half-wall and supporting columns between the cramped dining room and living room. A bathroom was relocated from its awkward spot off the foyer to a discreet setting near the basement stairs. “Before, the space really was tight in some spots and cavernous in others and didn’t work for the family,” Williams says. “Now it’s much more usable and intimate.”

The home’s new transitional style came about through carefully balancing traditional and contemporary architectural details—and adding warmth with wood.“So many contemporary houses feel cold,” Williams says. “By using a lot of wood details, I was able to create a contemporary feel that still had traditional style and warmth.” Crown molding added throughout the house and beefier ceiling beams in the living room keep the architecture on the traditional side. In the living room, a traditional, carved-wood mantel on the new fireplace takes the modern edge off the sleek, flat-front built-insthat surround it. Rich cherry gives the elements a classic look and helps visually link the two styles. To complete the effect,Williams trimmed the cabinets in the same white-painted molding she used in the rest of the house, creating a smooth transition between rooms. For symmetry, the shape of the living room’s fireplace and built-ins mirrors that of the new windows and doors on the opposite wall. French doors that stretch 8 feet high and double-stacked windows create the solarium effect the family desired without the expense of building a new room. The architect credits the home’s clean, simple look to the cohesive finishes and details. Without them, the modern and traditional elements would have been muddled. In the kitchen, custom cherry cabinets carry through the look of the living room’s built-ins. Rooms also make a flawless transition from the main to upper levels. Contemporary built-ins in the master bedroom, for example, mimic the style of those in the living room. In the bedroom, though, they wear a light maple finish for modern flair.

After months of planning and hammers banging, this unassuming home has taken a leap into the future while embracing its past—not that anyone could tell from the outside.

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