From Loft Life to a Homey House in the Suburbs
Home Town’s Erin and Ben Napier help some long-time friends transition from downtown living to a family-friendly home with a great outdoor space.
Dawn and Michael Trest are friends of Erin and Ben, and the two couples have known each other for about six years. Dawn and Michael, and their two kids, Anne and Liam, have been living the downtown loft life — which they've enjoyed, but they’re ready for something different. As Michael puts it, "It's time for a house and a yard." Their wish list is a family-friendly home that includes a nice yard and a combination kitchen and living area where the family can be together. The budget max, including any renovations, is $200,000.
Dawn wants a house that just feels like home — and not too fussy. She doesn't like fussy, and she doesn't like modern.Erin Napier
The search leads to two houses, each of which is a five-minute drive from downtown where Dawn works. The Craft House is a '70s-era brick four-bedroom that comes with 14 acres of land. Despite its dated ranch-style appearance, Erin has a vision for turning it into a woodsy retreat. The Stringer House, built in 1968, is in a classic neighborhood setting and had belonged to a local chef and restaurateur. Among other things, it comes with an odd and problematic layout — for which Erin has some creative remedial ideas. It does come with a large fenced yard and a back deck.
Once the Trests have made a decision, Erin and Ben embark on a substantial renovation that involves reworking spaces and the removal of several dividing walls, including one that was once an exterior brick wall. A closed-off kitchen gets opened onto adjacent dining and living spaces and is transformed into a highly functional new space that’s chef-worthy and inviting.
Besides big changes indoors, the home’s exterior transformation includes the creation of a stylish, new patio area with outdoor seating and some custom wood features.
And in addition to an arbor and custom window boxes made using reclaimed wood, this particular project includes a couple of more “metallic” elements that afford Ben the opportunity to branch outside his niche as a woodworker — with a trip to a local foundry.
The jobs at hand are to modify and refurbish an iron handrail and to create a metal frame for an outdoor table. Those are accomplished easily enough but, as long as you’re at a foundry, why not pour some molten metal? Under the watchful supervision of foundry owner Trent and his crew, Ben gets to try his hand at a new vocation — one that, some might say, is especially manly.
You know, there's a saying that 'worlds were not conquered with wood; they were conquered with iron and steel.' Today, I conquered the world.Ben Napier