The perfect location doesn’t always come with the perfect house. But that didn’t stop our clients from envisioning a home they could nestle down into, now that their kids were grown. With lovely lake views to set the stage, our clients were ready to start fresh, with a home they renovated just for themselves.
The Challenge: Zero-Lot-Line, Big Renovation Dreams
After more than 25 years of raising their family in a large Indianapolis home, our clients were ready for a smaller, easier-to-maintain home. However, they didn’t want to give up their lake views, so when they found the perfect Fishers location, they decided to renovate the less-than-perfect house into the dream home they envisioned for their life as vibrant empty-nesters.
Overall, the home was outdated and felt a little…flat. Banks of windows running the entire back of the house frame the serene beauty of the lake beyond them, the home’s original configuration didn’t welcome social gatherings as well as its new owners would have liked. Because the house was situated in a zero-lot-line community, we had to work within the existing footprint — a challenge we eagerly accepted. With the help of Hoskins Interior Design, we created a first-floor redesign that shifted the floorplan to create flows and groupings that would encourage gathering and fully enjoying the scenic location.
Our remodeling goals:
- Reconfigure the home’s layout within the existing footprint
- Optimize the kitchen and baths for better alignment with how the homeowners wanted to use them
- Add texture, personality, and a clean, modern style throughout the first floor
The Solution: Breathe New Life into a Tired Lake House Design
Opening the heart of the home with kitchen and hearth room updates
First, we tackled the kitchen to make it more useful and inviting. We removed a low bank of windows over one of the counters and replaced the cabinets with a full range and hood, which allowed us to reserve the central island for food prep and a built-in microwave. Our partners at Tremain Tile Marble and Granite installed marble countertops over the new cabinets, extending the bar-top to invite guests to sit and keep our clients company as they cook.
We replaced the existing pantry with a series of cabinets that more flexibly and efficiently use the space. We also removed one wall of the cubby that nearly swallowed a small bar area, opening it up and making it more easily accessible from the dining area and hearth room. Glass-fronted doors for storing barware add a touch of contrast to the bar, while the marble countertop and cabinetry style tie it into the rest of the kitchen. Crown molding and oak flooring carried throughout the first floor create unity among the spaces.
We then refreshed the sweet hearth room off the kitchen’s dining area to create a more welcoming gathering space. In its previous design, the uniqueness of the angled, two-sided fireplace was dampened with an uninspiring drywall surround and crown molding mantel. We wanted to add a warm ambience with natural materials and — after months of searching — finally found the right stone for the new surround. We encased the oddly-shaped chimney wall in stone from floor to ceiling and gave the fireplace a casual floating mantel. Not only does the new stone add color and texture, but its increased solidity subtly defines the hearth room without creating a barrier between it and the kitchen area. Oak flooring further warms the room, making the overall effect one of a cozy place to chat by the fire.
Re-visioning a great room worthy of the view
Although the original great room had good bones, it felt cut off from the kitchen and hearth room. We decided to open up its small entryway, which created fluidity among the spaces and made the adjoining views along the back wall feel more continuous. We then set about refreshing the room’s details, replacing the existing built-in shelving’s doors trim, adding crown moldings to make them feel more finished. We used the same oak flooring from the kitchen and hearth room to unify the three rooms as well as warm them.
We also rebuilt the great room’s fireplace using the same stone we used in the hearth room. Our partners at RST Custom Woodworking crafted a clean, white, crown molding mantel for a touch of formality. Finally we painted the walls and woodwork in muted tones of taupe and gray to create a relaxing atmosphere and focus the eye on the lake view just outside the soaring, floor-to-ceiling windows.
Showcasing a beautiful radius staircase
One of our favorite features of this home was a gorgeous staircase just inside the home’s front entry. The architectural detail of the staircase and radiused wall nearly melted into a background of bland wallpaper and monotone, stained railings. We decided to give the staircase the attention it deserved.
First we worked with RST Custom Woodworking to create a bold focal point with wainscoting on the stairwell wall, using a special composite material that molded to the wall’s radius. We then stripped down the bannisters and railings, staining the handrails a dark, dramatic walnut and painting the balusters a bright, crisp white. The effect is both eye-catching and elegant.
Elevating the master bath design while increasing its practicality
The first feature drawing the eye in the original master bath was an imposing glass-block wall. While it divided the walk-in shower from the rest of the room, it also ate up valuable space. We replaced its bulk with a short half-wall topped by less weighty (and easier to clean) glass panels and a glass shower door.
The space afforded by removing the glass block (as well as a small linen closet) allowed us to extend the countertop and add a makeup vanity and chair between the twin sinks, increasing the room’s versatility. We replaced the builder’s spec mirror that stretched the length of the original countertop with smaller, framed mirrors over each sink and a taller one, reaching from counter to ceiling, in front of the makeup vanity. We also installed small sconces on either side of the vanity for better lighting.
White marble counters and clean, white cabinetry complete the sophisticated look.
Although working within the constraints of the home’s existing footprint was challenging, it also presented us with an opportunity to make the most of every available space. Diligent pre-planning allowed us to minimize structural changes and maximize efficient placement (or re-placement) of utilities and plumbing for beautiful new fixtures and features. By listening carefully to our clients’ lifestyle needs and desires, we were able to help them create a home that’s now as perfect for them as its lakeside location.