The stylishly unassuming façade of this Meridian Hills home hides a breathtakingly modern open space. This family-friendly remodel offers hidden entertainment rooms in the basement and a centrally-located Minotti Cucine kitchen, built in Italy and installed here for a family that loves to entertain in style.
The Challenge: Great Location, but…an Uninspired Traditional Design
Good schools, close to downtown Indianapolis, beautiful lot…everything was just about perfect — except the house itself. Built in 2006, this modern Meridian Hills home was constructed in a traditional design that didn’t suit our client’s lifestyle. In addition to having an impressive art collection she wanted to display, our client loved to cook and entertain. She wanted a welcoming home that would allow guests to move easily and naturally from sharing meals to conversing over a glass of wine to playing a friendly game of billiards. As her teenager and pre-teen child grew, they needed their own recreation spaces to bring their friends.
The renovation plan required taking the first floor back to its studs, as well other structural modifications to support innovative architectural solutions. We were privileged to work with Gary Nance of Gary Nance Design and Anne Brooks of Butternut Hill Design to conceptualize, then realize our client’s stunning vision of an artful, family-friendly home with entertaining at its heart and beautiful private spaces for relaxation and restoration.
Our remodeling goals:
- Create a welcoming flow that opens up the space for entertaining
- Make the home functional, practical, and easy to maintain for an active family life
- Reflect the homeowner’s unique sense of style and provide a showcase for her art collection
The Solution: Unite Form and Function to Create a Signature Style
Importing an Italian kitchen for the heart of the home
As an avid cook who loves entertaining friends and family, our client wanted the kitchen to be the centerpiece of her home. Our architectural and interior design collaborators envisioned a space roomy enough not only to cook but also to gather — a hub of activity that would need to contain clutter and be easy to clean.
On a visit to Chicago, our client had fallen in love with the strong, elegant lines of the Modulnova cabinets and Miele appliances she saw at Minotti Cucine. So when it came time to renovate her home, we worked with her to select the kitchen’s components — all of which would be designed to order and prebuilt in Italy and shipped overseas to be installed here by us and our partner teams.
We take great care with all our remodeling products, but there was absolutely no room for error on this one. Not only did measurements need to be right for the artisans to build the components themselves, but we needed to ensure that any preparation work we did on our end (floors, walls, ceilings, the placement of the bulkhead over the floating cooktop) was perfectly aligned. Shipping any part of the kitchen back to Minotti Italy for rework was not an option.
The results are gorgeous. The clean, white cabinetry almost melts into the wall, spotlighting the warmth of the central island’s dark wood and granite counters. The floating cooktop’s wiring is hidden from view, as are the room’s appliances, which we enclosed with custom cabinets we seamlessly incorporated with the Italian build to complete the design. Every cabinet makes clever use of space to keep everything at our client’s fingertips while hiding any hint of clutter.
Creating a multi-functional basement with family-friendly details for casual entertaining
In keeping with the rest of the home’s new design, we remodeled the basement to offer our client and her guests both flexibility and ease. Off the spacious main room, we tucked a billiards room behind a trio of custom-made barn doors that can be left open to invite guests to play or closed to keep the noise down. A cork-topped drink rail encircles the room, providing a place to set glasses without the need for coasters to protect the surface.
On the opposite wall, we built storage and a place to hang a TV. A sofa console table is wired for sound and includes a drawer for keeping remotes and game controllers out of sight when not in use.
A kitchenette nestles into the wall adjacent to the barn doors, with a sink, convection stovetop, built-in refrigerator-freezer unit, and microwave — everything hungry teens need (and more) for whipping up a quick snack (and cleaning up after themselves) without needing to raid the main-floor kitchen. For the adults, we installed a handy wine cooler into the wall just beyond the last barn door and next to the kitchenette.
The casual entertaining possibilities are nearly endless!
Tailoring a unique, spa-like master bath
The design for the first-floor master bath called for something truly stunning. In addition to removing the large, clunky garden tub, we expanded the space to subtly divide the room into wet and dry areas. On one end of the room we installed a porcelain, Japanese-style soaking tub and an open, curbless shower bounded by a single glass wall. A private water closet encloses a sophisticated Japanese toilet.
On the “dry” side of the room a floating vanity, topped with an Italian marble countertop spans the entire wall. The furniture-like cabinets and drawers of the makeup area includes a lighted mirror over a quartzite countertop with enough space to pull up a chair or bench.
The beautiful lighting in the room, combined with its spare, elegant style, makes it feel like a retreat.
Installing artful details for beauty and practicality
Our client’s love of beautiful artifacts influenced many details of the home’s renovation. One of our favorites was a stone vessel sink, around which the home’s main-floor half-bath was designed. The hefty piece was dramatic on its own but tipped over into magical when we installed lighting to give it a glow from inside the gorgeous monolith.
The front door design is also deceptively simple. As with the custom cabled stairway, our client had found a photo of a door she liked and asked if we could do something similar: a dark wood frame with a different pattern on the inside and outside of its etched glass panes. Of course! We had her glass selections laminated together as thermal panes to withstand outside temperatures.
The home’s great room provided us with several opportunities for stretching our creative muscles. First, we repurposed the kitchen’s original granite countertop into a custom fireplace surround made to look like shiplap to match the design of the wood above it. Then we built custom storage on either side of the fireplace to look like drawers — but the entire front of each row is a door that opens to reveal cabinet shelving.
Even cooler than the deceptive cabinets in the great room is the surprise “dead end” to one side of the second-floor mezzanine. A hidden door masquerading as shelves opens into one of the upstairs bedrooms. A perfect entrance to a teenager’s retreat.
While this whole house renovation required large, sweeping changes, small, imaginative details like these add a sense of delight and bring something a little extra to the experienced of living there.