The Family Home
Photography by Alise O’Brien
At an age when most couples are downsizing, this duo opted for the exact opposite; they nearly doubled the size of their home.
“Our family is expanding,” the homeowner says. “We have two children living out of town. They both have four small children and we wanted them to be able to stay with us when they come to town.”
And that’s how the decision was made to add on so visiting offspring could assume the four bedrooms and two baths on the second floor.
Originally built in the mid 1950s, the current owners moved into the 4,900-square-foot house in Frontenac in October 1984—when their children were six, four, and two. The interior was dated, right down to the shades of shag carpeting gracing the floors. The first major improvement was putting in a pool; then in 1997, they redid all the bathrooms, expanded the master bath, added a breakfast/hearth room, and updated the kitchen. Kim Kelce and Nancy Pedley of Kelce and Pedley Design have handled the extensive landscaping since 2005. At different points, the homeowners bought the lots on either side of their house, expanding the property to four acres.
Along the way, wish lists went unfulfilled, but not this time.
The homeowners sat down at the kitchen table with architect Bill Cover of William D. Cover Architect LLC, designer Kelly Johnson of Johnson Design, and contractor Roger Johnson of Johnson Development.
“Once you start the process of remodeling, it’s ‘Okay if we are going to do this, well then, we’ve always wanted to do that,’” the homeowner says. “We had a list of dreams. We wanted a space that we could live in until we could no longer live in the house.”
Kelly Johnson suggested the homeowners have two master baths; pictured are shots of the wife’s bathroom.
By the time the project was complete, the house was 4,000 square feet larger replete with new master bedroom suite, new study/office, new kitchen, and remodeled hearth room/morning room. On the lower level, a new exercise room, massage area, steam bath, den, and playroom were added. And then there is the pool pavilion outside.
“It was quite a lengthy process to get every last detail,” Kelly says. “The architect and I approached it as you want to honor the bones of the house—you are not trying to reinvent it. You are trying to enhance it, to add on in ways so that it is indiscernible what is old and what is new.”
In the original house, the existing library was taken down to the studs in order to incorporate the new millwork used on the first floor. A screen porch was removed; the kitchen was gutted and rebuilt with all the bells and whistles including pot filler, warming drawers, and steam oven.
“She’s a gourmet cook and the kitchen was really important,” Kelly says. “We spent a long time on the kitchen and the cabinet design layout to get the most out of the space. It is loaded up with appliances and wonderful features in the cabinets. It is a very workable, functional and useable kitchen.” Jim Howard of Alspaugh Kitchen & Bath assisted.
The adjoining breakfast room got new beams, plank ceilings, new wallpaper, and window treatments, as well as a 16-foot custom-made table.
In the existing house, yellow and green walls were repainted serene shades of cream and gray, printed wallpapers came down, and elaborate draperies removed and replaced with more tailored versions.
“I knew I didn’t want to give her what she had before,” Kelly says. “Every so often, it’s time for nips and tucks. There is a lot more texture and a lot less pattern. There was no desire to have anything flashy or jazzy. We were going for a quiet understated elegance that was still spectacular because of the details involved.”
“We had a vision and we stuck to it,” the homeowner says. “I would be hard-pressed to think of what I’d change. It turned out better than I expected.”
In the 32 years Kelly has been married to Roger, her husband and co-owner of Johnson Development, they have lived in a dozen houses. “I’ve tried out so many ideas on so many different houses that I know what works and what doesn’t,” she says. After doing interior design on the side for 25 years, she started Johnson Design in 2011 and expanded her client list beyond the family’s firm.
Downstairs, Kelly designed a playroom with a small playhouse, oversized chalkboard, and a wall of baskets for all the visiting grandchildren.
The homeowner spoke of parents interrupting children elbow-deep in art projects because it was time to go home. Now they can safely store them away until their return.
“They each have their own basket,” she says. “No one else can touch it.”
Clearly the homeowners care first and foremost about their family. Downsizing won’t be happening here. Ever.
“I am kind of a nester and I like the tradition of my children coming back to the home they grew up in,” the homeowner says. “And their children get to come here and to know where their mom or dad grew up, to sleep in their bedrooms. There are a lot of happy memories here.”