An Industrial-Chic Rancher Redesign

Architect Jon Kelly Davis remodeled a great room, dining room and kitchen to better fit his family and reflect his love of classic American architecture.


Although the majority of the great room now has vaulted ceilings, Jon decided to keep the sitting room more intimate. In that room, he left the 8-foot ceiling height as-is, and created a furniture arrangement featuring classic, traditional American pieces accented by a pair of architectural etchings.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

While architect Jon Kelly Davis is extremely passionate about his career designing, building and renovating spaces, he's even more passionate about his family. No project reflects this — and his third passion, architectural photography — more than the remodel of his Atlanta 1960 ranch-style home.

"My wife Stacey and I looked at 120 houses before falling in love with this one. When we bought it, we both loved it, but it needed some serious improvements to work efficiently for us and our daughters Olivia and Caroline. Plus, it didn't have enough expansive wall space for me to display my photography. We knew from the start there’d be a renovation involved," Jon says.

Industrial-Chic Rancher Remodel

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Before: Dark and Uninspiring

In its existing state, Jon Kelly Davis' main living area had a closed-off kitchen and low ceilings, plus it lacked natural light.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Opening Up the Space

Although the majority of the great room now has vaulted ceilings, Jon decided to keep the sitting room more intimate. In that room, he left the 8-foot ceiling height as-is, and created a furniture arrangement featuring classic, traditional American pieces accented by a pair of architectural etchings. "I wanted it to feel like an alcove, as though you were wrapped up by the room," Jon explains. "The best is when the room is about 68 degrees. You just instantly want to curl up with a book and take a nap."

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

French Doors

To access the new 500-square-foot outdoor living area, Jon added two sets of French doors to the great room: one in the dining area and another next to the sitting room. When considering adding French doors to a home, the architect advises, "French doors can be pretty costly for several reasons. The cost is in re-framing the openings, which means you not only have to cut out the area to fit the new doors but you have to support it structurally with new headers. It's laborious and not all that easy to do. I suggest budgeting about $2,500 for each set of French doors added."

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Home Is Where the Art Is

On display over the sofa in the sitting room sits a pair of 16th-century architectural renderings by Piranesi and Rossini. The renderings were made by cutting wood into blocks, then using them to etch ink markings into paper. A pair of satin-nickel picture lights attached to the backs of the frames keeps the pictures on display, even at night. The lights are set on a remote control that can be operated from other rooms in the house.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Industrial Style

Jon's favorite style of architecture is classic American. When he and Stacey purchased furniture for their home, he made an effort to incorporate many pieces of this style into the home's design, including an iron-base coffee table on casters that sports a slate top. "John Saladino is an American icon for design and architecture. He uses a lot of natural, organic materials in his work. I really love the idea of bringing natural materials indoors," Jon adds.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Nail-Head Details

Although the decoration of Jon and Stacey's home is gender-neutral overall, the architect also added tailored, masculine details such as the oil-rubbed bronze nail-head detail on the sitting room's wingback chairs.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Layers of Lighting

During the day, skylights fill Jon and Stacey's great room with natural light. To keep the space properly illuminated at night, Jon integrated small halogen recessed lights into the ceiling.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Indoor and Outdoor Living

To add extra playspace for the kids and room for outdoor entertaining, Jon added 500 square feet of elevated deck just off the great room. To access the deck from the dining room and sitting room, he replaced windows with two pairs of French doors.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Dining and Design

Breakfast time in the Davis house is exceptionally beautiful thanks to the abundance of natural light that streams in from a pair of new skylights. On display front and center above the dining room's sideboard are some of Jon's photographs from his European architecture series. While Caroline and Olivia, both prone to spills and falls, sit in sturdy steel chairs, Jon and Stacey enjoy meals in armchairs draped with washed-linen slipcovers.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Iron Lighting

Many of Jon's design choices are made of strong, industrial materials, including the chandelier above the dining room, which is made of iron and has a copper patina finish.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn


Packing the great room with natural light was high on Jon's priority list. When asked why it was so important to him, the architect responds, “Natural light adds life to a room, plus it’s physically good for you. In fact, the rooms with the most light are often the ones people use most; it makes them happy."

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Architectural Photography

Thanks to the skylights above the dining room, a collection of Jon's architectural photography remains properly lit during the daytime. Jon's subjects include: the Duomo in Florence, the gargoyles of Notre Dame, a view of the Grand Canal from a gondola in Venice, the Coliseum in Rome, and a view of Paris from the top of Notre Dame.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Farm-Table Charm

Keeping with the clean, traditional architecture of the newly remodeled dining room, Jon opted for a farm table with a graphic X-shaped base.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Rustic Chairs

Jon chose to add a touch of European architecture to the dining room with Parisian steel bistro chairs that have a worn-in, rustic finish. The steel construction is especially helpful for durability and stability, since Caroline and Olivia are both prone to spills and the occasional fall.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

An Eyesore Before

In its original state, the kitchen sported 1960s pine cabinets with black metal hinging and an oven so small, "you couldn't even cook a turkey in it." Jon continues, "Thanksgivings would have been impossible in the old kitchen!"

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Open Kitchen Layout

Now the open concept has an eat-in island, bright white cabinets and ample natural light provided by a trio of new skylights. Overall the new kitchen cost the couple approximately $30,000.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Low-Cost Cabinets

Jon wanted to brighten the newly renovated kitchen by incorporating bright white cabinets. Determined to add classic American style, he opted for beadboard-style cabinet fronts from IKEA, which had the added benefit of being major cost-savers. The new cabinetry has had a huge impact in the kitchen. “Before, the cabinets were only about 6 feet tall. Now they soar past 9 feet and hold just about everything we could think of, including an integrated wine rack. We pretty much doubled our cabinet space with the new layout,” John says.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Granite Countertops

Since Jon saved money on his kitchen design by choosing low-price-point cabinetry from IKEA, he was able to splurge on countertops. He and Stacey agreed on Borneo Black granite, which they note is fantastic for hiding imperfections.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Looking Out the Window

Before the remodel, the kitchen had a single window over the sink that wasn't centered. In order to make the new kitchen symmetrical, Jon had the window reframed and repositioned directly over the existing plumbing. Now, while preparing dinner or washing the dishes, Jon and/or Stacey can peer directly out to the front porch where Caroline and Olivia play.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Millwork and Hardware

The new space includes custom millwork in the form of transitional trim and doors that are paired with oil-rubbed hardware.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Hardwood Flooring

Jon and Stacey kept their existing hardwood floors, but had them re-stained in a custom stain that is a mix of Jacobean and Ebony.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Though Jon and Stacey bought the house in 2005, they decided to wait to plan any renovations until after they'd lived in the home for a while. They knew they wanted a kid-friendly layout with plenty of family gathering spaces, plus space to display Jon's photography. Until they lived in the home for a few months, however, they couldn't be sure how they would utilize the rooms on a day-to-day basis. After about 18 months living in the house, they embarked on their remodel, focusing primarily on the great room and kitchen.

Of the home's original layout, Stacey notes, "So many things about it didn't work. First of all, there was a wall separating the existing kitchen from the dining and sitting rooms. Next, the kitchen hadn't been updated since 1960. In fact, the oven was so small you couldn't even fit a turkey in it. Lastly, it felt dark and cramped, especially due to its lack of natural light. The ceilings were just under 8 feet tall, and there was no instant access to the backyard." Drawing on inspiration from his favorite architectural styles, Jon decided to create an open floor plan packed with features, finishes and colors reminiscent of each.

From the get-go, Jon and Stacey decided to set a budget of approximately $75,000 and a timeline of six months. The architect recalls, "We started demo and prayed a lot, especially since I know just how out of control renovation costs can get." In all, the entire project ended up taking eight months and cost a total of $110,000.

Jon and Stacey's extensive to-do list included:

  • Gutting and reconfiguring their kitchen
  • Opening the kitchen wall to create an open floor plan
  • Vaulting 8-foot ceilings and adding skylights
  • Adding spray insulation throughout the entire house
  • Reframing the house's rear exterior wall to accommodate pairs of French doors and side lights
  • Adding 500 square feet of outdoor entertaining space
  • Re-staining the original hardwood floors
  • Adding new millwork
  • Changing the footprint of the kitchen, adding recessed lighting, incorporating skylights into the ceiling
  • Adding a kitchen island and installing IKEA kitchen cabinets

Since Jon spends his weekdays planning and remodeling homes for clients, and also knows how to do a lot of the work, he decided to be hands-on with a good portion of the home's remodel. "I did a lot of the work myself while Stacey looked after Olivia and Caroline," says Jon. "Overall, I'd say about 20 percent of the scope was made of my own blood, sweat and tears." The architect assigned himself the following tasks: demolition, interior framing and drywall, kitchen cabinet assembly, and framing and setting of exterior windows. Once these were complete, he hung up his contractor hat and let his team finish the remaining scope of the project.

First up on his team's list was vaulting the ceilings and integrating skylights. Although the skylights were essential to keeping the house light, bright and airy, Jon also needed them for showcasing his photography properly. "It’s amazing what a difference skylights make in showcasing art," says Stacey. "From the start, Jon really wanted to be able to display his photography with all-natural light so the variation in color would read well. He's so excited to keep shooting new things, framing them and hanging them up."

The skylights were set into the slope of the new vaulted ceilings. "Vaulting ceilings is a pretty tough process to live through," Jon cautions. "It's messy, you have to deal with being exposed to the elements, and all drywall has to be completely removed before extending upwards. While it's a hassle, the end result is worth it."



To add extra play space for the kids and room for outdoor entertaining, Jon added 500 square feet of elevated deck just off the great room. To access the deck from the dining room and sitting room, he replaced windows with two pairs of French doors.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

To add extra play space for the kids and room for outdoor entertaining, Jon added 500 square feet of elevated deck just off the great room. To access the deck from the dining room and sitting room, he replaced windows with two pairs of French doors.

Once the ceilings were complete, the rear windows of the dining area were ripped out and replaced with French doors. Just outside the doors, 500 square feet of decking was built for outdoor entertaining. In describing how the new outdoor space gets used, Stacey comments, "It's a dream. Especially when the weather is nice, I can keep the doors open and suddenly the great room feels twice as big. I can sit out there and read magazines while Olivia and Caroline draw on their chalkboard easel. There's room for all of us to gather as a family."

When deciding on an overall direction for his home's architecture and interiors, Jon chose a classic, relaxed American aesthetic indicative both of farmhouse and Napa styles. "I wanted the house to have the welcoming, casual feel of a relaxed American farmhouse. It was important to me that our guests feel like they could walk across the house with their shoes off," Jon explains, adding, "I also wanted it have alfresco appeal, kind of like the look and feel of Napa style."

As far colors were concerned, Jon stuck with classic bungalow colors, opting to have the walls and millwork painted with three different earth tones from Benjamin Moore: Nantucket Gray for the walls, Bennington Gray for the trim and Alexandria Beige for the doors.

Although his remodel was, for the most part, a great experience, Jon did learn first-hand what his clients go through. "I don't think there's anything I'd do differently, but I can honestly say it's probably best to renovate a house while you're not living in it," says Jon. "Having little ones around while a home is covered with dust and packed with tools is pretty stressful."

The architect also thinks it's wise to truly live in a space and see how it's used before redesigning it. He adds, "If Stacey and I would have remodeled before actually living in the house, I don’t think the outcome would have been this spectacular."

As the project came to an end, Jon started to think about displaying his photography. His plan was to display his collection in stages, starting with the focal wall of the dining room. "First up, I decided to frame and group some of my European architecture images just above the dining room buffet," says Jon. "This is what I see each morning over breakfast and it's a great way to start the day."

With his home redone, Jon is spending more time with Stacey, Olivia and Caroline, whether it's making dinner together, enjoying breakfast while the kids color, or entertaining friends in the sitting room and out back on the deck. With so many potential Kodak moments to capture around the house, it's likely the photographer may quickly run out of photography display space sooner than he thought.

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