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Measuring up, contractor renovates a home for his parents

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Measuring up, contractor renovates a home for his parents

At a stage where many empty nesters choose to downsize from a house to a condo, Chris O’Hanlon’s parents did the opposite. They left their modern penthouse and moved in with him. The length of their stay would be dependent upon how long it would take him to renovate his parents newly purchased 1980s suburban house. However, it wasn’t just about the length of time it would take, it had to be a high-quality renovation, because his dad is renowned community developer and builder, Patrick O’Hanlon.

Liking the easy life

Mom, Sheri, was getting used to the maintenance-free lifestyle of condo living, so when she first saw the house, she laughed. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to be looking after a yard again, or clearing a driveway of winter snow. But, the family cockapoo, Mindy, would have easy access to a backyard. Plus, this wasn’t the family’s first rodeo. They knew what was in store for them with a major renovation project.

Together, they created a vision for a warm, nature-inspired palette, with clean lines and soft textures.

And so it began

Out came the crowbars and hammers. The main floor was opened up to modernize the space and create a continuous flow throughout. Once the walls came down, a powder room was discreetly relocated beside an existing den, which was now the office.

A curved staircase dominated the foyer and the main hall. It terminated on the second floor onto a landing (unusable space), which lead to the master bedroom. A new, reconfigured staircase changed the traffic flow and made room for a second storey laundry room.

The footprint of the master bedroom was decreased to add more room to the master bathroom and to include a walk-in closet – accessed from the bathroom.

Dealing with limitations

There were aspects of the house that couldn’t be changed. For instance, the ceiling height. The standard height in the 80’s was eight feet. They got rid of the popcorn (stucco) ceiling, updated the recessed lighting and added built-in speakers throughout the main floor. They used a solid sawn white oak to update the flooring throughout the entire house. The seven-inch planks added warmth and a contemporary look.

They also opted to remove two existing gas fireplaces on the main floor. In their condo, they enjoyed the electric fireplace, because they could add heat, when needed, or just enjoy it as a cosy focal point. They nestled one into a Marmorea Series porcelain wall, surrounded by a custom-built wall unit in walnut.

Transformation completed

The original kitchen was entirely changed. A post stood right in the middle, it lacked storage and was blocked off by an awkward peninsula. The modifications were dramatic. The eat-in kitchen by the bay window was replaced by a functional island. Cabinetry was extended to the back wall, where a new window provided a view to the backyard. A 12-foot beam allowed them to get rid of the unsightly post.

Like the gas fireplaces, the gas stove was replaced with a Monogram induction cooktop and wall oven, which was reconfigured as a regular oven. Gold accents injected an upscale look in to the welcoming room.

The servery, by the new lounge area, replicated the kitchen cabinetry and provided a central area with comfy seating – designed for conversation and relaxation. Decorative trim work on the ceiling added interest and delineated the lounge area. It’s now Sheri’s favourite place to kick back and read.

A successful, six-month turnaround ensured that his parents didn’t wear out their welcome, and Chris now has his home back. That is, until they get the urge to start a new project.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. Jane Lockhart Interior Design janelockhart.com

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