After living in an 1880s row house in Philadelphia and a 1920s Tudor ?revival in Wisconsin, Deborah Mitchell wanted a change of pace last year when she moved back to central Ohio. She found it in an unlikely place: on a pleasant but conventional street of 1950s ranches less than a mile south of downtown Dublin.
After living in an 1880s row house in Philadelphia and a 1920s Tudor ?revival in Wisconsin, Deborah Mitchell wanted a change of pace last year when she moved back to central Ohio.
She found it in an unlikely place: on a pleasant but conventional street of 1950s ranches less than a mile south of downtown Dublin.
There, she has transformed a nondescript 1957 three-bedroom ranch into a showpiece of midcentury architecture, furniture and art.
“I like what midcentury represents, this change of culture — and that’s exactly what I wanted when I came to Columbus,” said Mitchell, 53, a professor of marketing who moved to Ohio from Madison, Wis., to join the Ohio State University faculty.
Mitchell didn’t step lightly into the project, which is one of 15 renovations that will be featured next weekend in the BIA Showcase of Remodeled Homes.
She pored over magazines and books celebrating the midcentury look and even made a pilgrimage to the mecca of midcentury architecture: Palm Springs, Calif.
Because she couldn’t be in Columbus for the house search, Mitchell enlisted a cousin who is a central Ohio real-estate agent to find her a house within walking distance of shops and restaurants.
“I really wanted to get a ranch to renovate,” said Mitchell, who grew up in a ranch house in Columbus. “I had to be able to walk to a Starbucks or coffee shop and restaurants, and yet have a big yard — which is really hard to find.”
Mitchell made an offer on the house without visiting it, but when she opened the door for the first time last May, she didn’t leap for joy.
“The first time I walked in, I almost cried,” she said. “It was so dark and depressing.”
Through the darkness, though, Mitchell saw potential.
She contacted Gary Gray, an architect with Davis Wince Architecture in Powell, who in turn put her in touch with Todd Schmidt, owner of Renovations Unlimited, a remodeling firm in Grove City; and Ralph Rosenfield, an art consultant in Columbus.
The quartet spent several months reimagining the home, which featured a standard layout: the living room in front, the kitchen and dining room in back, and three bedrooms down a side hall.
“It was a pretty typical three-bedroom ranch,” Schmidt said. “The family room, dining room and kitchen all had their own spaces.”
The first step: tear down the walls separating those spaces.
“Deborah said, ‘I want this to be open — as open as you can make it so it still stands,’?” Gray said.
Even after doing that, Mitchell knew she needed more room, so the team planned an addition across the back, adding more than 300 square feet to the 2,200-square-foot house.
To further enhance the spaciousness, Schmidt removed the 8-foot ceiling and took the ceiling to the roof. Those changes gave the team the space it wanted: a 28-by-35-foot cathedral-ceilinged shell that looked onto the backyard through a wall of glass.
They filled the shell with a blend of understated finishes offset with striking colors and textures.
Plain maple cabinets, oak floors and mostly white walls provide a backdrop for an eye-popping tile backsplash and a terra-cottalike concrete countertop crafted by the Del Col concrete company, which also made countertops for the two redesigned baths and a new kitchen preparation area.
The floors, cabinets and white walls were repeated throughout the house, providing a canvas for the furniture and for Mitchell’s art. Working with Rosenfield, Mitchell added several pieces to her art collection, each of which spoke to her in some way.
Rolling Fields of Home, by linoleum artist Bill Miller, portrays a landscape reminiscent of Mitchell’s mother’s home in eastern Kentucky. 4-H Fair Queens by Susanne Dotson, a large and vivid acrylic painting of three dresses in a field, reminded Mitchell of the county fairs that she attended as a child.
She and Rosenfield commissioned Columbus artist Charles Wince to paint a mural on her dining room table that reflected her interests — especially her passion for music. (Mitchell studied music at Ohio State University before switching to marketing but still regularly plays on her Yamaha grand piano.)
For a final touch, Mitchell added signature midcentury furniture: lounge chairs, dining chairs, a stool and sofa by Charles and Ray Eames; chairs by Harry Bertoia; a bench by George Nelson; and a coffee table by Isamu Noguchi.
“I got rid of 99 percent of my old furniture,” said Mitchell. “I wanted a big change.”
Mitchell ended up spending more on the renovation than she did on the $213,000 house, but she’s confident that the money was well-spent.
“It’s truly more than I dreamed. It’s amazing. I never lived anywhere where I felt this good."