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Cribs: Pre-Fabulous

You can brag all you want about under-the-bed storage space and recessed cubbies – Brian Reaume has got you licked when it comes to domestic versatility. In fact, he could hose down his whole living room and have it twinkling within the hour. He wouldn’t, of course, since that would potentially ruin one of the [...]
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You can brag all you want about under-the-bed storage space and recessed cubbies – Brian Reaume has got you licked when it comes to domestic versatility.

In fact, he could hose down his whole living room and have it twinkling within the hour.

He wouldn’t, of course, since that would potentially ruin one of the most eclectic private art collections in Columbus, but it underscores the uniqueness of his Kenmore Park “Lustron” home, one of around 2,600 manufactured in Columbus just after the second Great War.

“It feels like a battleship, right?” Reaume tells me, a hint of slight boast in his voice. “It feels like it just landed.’”

“Low maintenance” barely begins to describe the prefabricated structures, constructed primarily of enameled steel panels and designed to be more cost-effective and/or durable than houses consisting of brick, plaster, or wood. (A re-constructed Lustron home is on display at the Ohio Historical Society).

Reaume, who purchased the house in 2008, knows a thing or two about non-traditional materials. The work he has created out of his Grandview studio, Birchwater, has fused everything from religious iconography to player piano scrolls to deer antlers. His installations form compelling narratives that are rustic and folklore-laden, or as he puts it, a “visual history of character and life.”

His home certainly fits that artistic mission statement, albeit serendipitously. Six years ago, he was on his way to check out an L-shaped farm house in foreclosure, and his eye was snagged by the canary yellow panel house with a small “For Sale by Owner” sign hanging out front. Immediately, he recognized it as a Lustron model. Ironically he just learned of their existence three months earlier in an issue of Architectural Digest.

“I just thought, ‘Holy shit,’” he said. “I knew I wanted it. The thing that really got me was I couldn’t believe how well laid out it was. On the outside it’s just this little box, which I love, because it’s so symmetric. And then walking in, it was a lot larger than I would assume it is. For me, it’s too much house. I could lob off 400 foot of this and be completely satisfied.”

Spoken like a man who’s spent plenty of time cooped in up an art studio. But the space is surprisingly open and breathable, and Reaume’s treatment of the décor gives it more nuance than you’d expect from a home that came with its own serial number.

The muted gray panels make for an excellent neutral space to display one of Reaume’s larger pieces, along with large canvases from Columbus ex-pats Carolyn Slebodnick and Dusty Rabjohn, while artwork from locals like Christopher Tennant, Adam Brouillette, and Wallace Peck share another living room wall with flea market finds and a boar’s head mount trophied by Reaume’s father. A rustic wood-burning space heater off the kitchen and an upcycled hospital cabinet in the bathroom are other fitting flourishes.

“It was a good opportunity, I like that…the art fits the house. With the walls, I really don’t have a choice. I can’t paint them, I’m not going to wallpaper them, so everything stands out.”

In fact, Reaume is holding a show dedicated to the building blocks of his post-WWII home. This month, he is producing Art of Lustron, which will feature the work of 36 individual artists – ranging from photography and illustration to sculpture and installation – all on individual Lustron house panels.

From time to time he may still think of the farmhouse that wasn’t, but Reaume has embraced his unofficial induction into this unique homeowners society.

“One day I would love to have an old farmhouse as my studio…12-foot ceilings and all that, because it feeds my work,” he said. “But I think this quiets my mind. It’s nice, because when I come here to rest, this is my safety. I encapsulate myself here.”

Art of Lustron, which will serve as a benefit for both the Whitehall Historical Society & The Lustron Preservation Society, will be run March 8 – 30, at Tacocat Co-Operative, featuring work from Reaume’s living room artists and many more. For more, visit www.tacocatcooperative.com.

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Home & Garden

Kitchen Confidential

Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold. According to Moses, “The kitchen was very [...]
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Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold.

According to Moses, “The kitchen was very closed off before, which left whoever was cooking alone for the most part. We did try to remedy that ourselves a few years ago by removing part of a wall and adding a bar. It just wasn’t enough.”

After nine years in the abode, it was time for some rehauls. They set out to break down some barriers and open up the main living space of their abode. Namely, between the kitchen and the living room. They went from shut-in, to an open yet warm feel that has an antique look with modern elements.

To use the space more efficiently, Moses went for a one-wall kitchen, with an island for work space. The layout was made complete by her favorite change, which may be the least noticeable: The bay windows. While they were already part of the original design, the remodel made them about two feet taller. And now Moses can really let the sun shine in. 

She drew inspiration from designs from the 1920s, like antique Sears catalogues. One of her missions was to take the feel of the kitchen back to the era when the house was built. Another inspiration was more modern, and more personal: Moses has served plenty of time in the trenches of the food service industry.

“I’ve spent enough time in the back of the house to know how to run a kitchen efficiently, and that was the goal!”

Doing a lot of the early demo themselves, Moses went to battle with the layers upon layers of flooring.

“I needed to get it all the way down to the subfloor so that the new wood floor would be level with the original wood in the dining room. I also had no idea what I was going to find when I started pulling it up. It was hard labor, but I figured out a rhythm (with the help of my neighbors wrecking bar) and was able to start pulling it up in big sheets. There were five layers to get through, and the easiest way to do it was one layer at a time. I also removed the half wall and bar which we’d previously remodeled ourselves. It wasn’t the first time I’ve taken a sledge hammer to one of the walls in my house, and I doubt it will be the last. There’s something extremely cathartic about the demolition process.”

The star of the remodel was a refrigerator that Moses had fallen in love with. It was a SMEG, two door, bottom freezer, tall and slender, mid century modern, pastel green fridge. It was to be shipped in from Italy. This put the arrival time at four weeks. But the mighty SMEG would prove to be a formidable foe. Its Odyssean journey from southern Europe included Moses basically becoming a supply chain manager, and making a part time job out of phone calls to manufacturers and shipping companies. After inquiries and reorders, discounts, a hold on payment, and constant back and forth, it seemed like her dream fridge would never come. 

“At [that] point, [I was] seriously considering driving to South Brunswick [to find] that container myself. It may seem a little silly to wait this long for a fridge, but we designed the custom kitchen around the dimensions of this particular fridge, which is far from standard size. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.”

Every element that was used was painstakingly researched. Trim like they made in the ’20s is no longer widely available, but resourceful Moses found it online. The floor to ceiling tile is mosaic sheets of porcelain subway tile. The cabinets, drawers and shelves are all custom-built. The countertops and island are all butchers block.

“I left it unsealed, and have done several sounds of sanding and oiling to create a protective barrier. I wanted countertops that are food safe, and will develop their own natural patina over time.

The sink is a Frankenstein’s masterpiece that took a lot of time and consideration, as well as some good old fashioned ingenuity.

“I wanted to have something that would look like a sink in the original kitchen, porcelain coated cast iron, with legs to hold up its weight. There are a few companies that make them like that, but they’re ungodly expensive.”

Moses and Debelius came up with a clever way to get the look without breaking the bank. They found a company online that manufactures early century-style high back sinks out of reinforced cast acrylic, which is very durable and very light weight. And for the legs, Moses went to half off furniture day at the thrift store and found a table with a set of turned wood legs she thought would be compatible. After adding a block of wood to the top of each leg to give them some height, they now make up the custom base for a very sexy early century sink design.

Moses wanted to put an interesting transition layer between the new kitchen floor and the 100 year old wood living room floor. Ceramic tiles were beautiful, but the materials were incompatible.

“After hours of research, I stumbled upon Mirth Studio, a woman-owned company that makes custom wooden, hand painted, tongue and groove tiles. If you read her bio, she was in a similar situation and just decided to make her own! I am more than happy with the result. We even got a little clever and drilled evenly spaced holes in one of the tiles so that it could also act as a vent cover.”

Moses started the demo with her own hammer and elbow grease, but when she needed the hand of a professional, she hired EnhanceIt. The small, family-owned business was perfect for this all custom job that needed great attention to detail.

“There’s only so much you can learn how to do through internet research. And while we’ve done quite a bit of DIY stuff around here, we’re not professionals and I really wanted the kitchen to be completed with finesse. I needed people who are skilled at carpentry and finishing touches, which is beyond our skill set. But as far as design and layout goes, it’s basically plucked straight from my brain, and flawless.” 

By Brian Kaiser

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Home & Garden

Kitchen Confidential

Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold. According to Moses, “The kitchen was very [...]
614now

Published

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Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold.

According to Moses, “The kitchen was very closed off before, which left whoever was cooking alone for the most part. We did try to remedy that ourselves a few years ago by removing part of a wall and adding a bar. It just wasn’t enough.”

After nine years in the abode, it was time for some rehauls. They set out to break down some barriers and open up the main living space of their abode. Namely, between the kitchen and the living room. They went from shut-in, to an open yet warm feel that has an antique look with modern elements.

To use the space more efficiently, Moses went for a one-wall kitchen, with an island for work space. The layout was made complete by her favorite change, which may be the least noticeable: The bay windows. While they were already part of the original design, the remodel made them about two feet taller. And now Moses can really let the sun shine in. 

She drew inspiration from designs from the 1920s, like antique Sears catalogues. One of her missions was to take the feel of the kitchen back to the era when the house was built. Another inspiration was more modern, and more personal: Moses has served plenty of time in the trenches of the food service industry.

“I’ve spent enough time in the back of the house to know how to run a kitchen efficiently, and that was the goal!”

Doing a lot of the early demo themselves, Moses went to battle with the layers upon layers of flooring.

“I needed to get it all the way down to the subfloor so that the new wood floor would be level with the original wood in the dining room. I also had no idea what I was going to find when I started pulling it up. It was hard labor, but I figured out a rhythm (with the help of my neighbors wrecking bar) and was able to start pulling it up in big sheets. There were five layers to get through, and the easiest way to do it was one layer at a time. I also removed the half wall and bar which we’d previously remodeled ourselves. It wasn’t the first time I’ve taken a sledge hammer to one of the walls in my house, and I doubt it will be the last. There’s something extremely cathartic about the demolition process.”

The star of the remodel was a refrigerator that Moses had fallen in love with. It was a SMEG, two door, bottom freezer, tall and slender, mid century modern, pastel green fridge. It was to be shipped in from Italy. This put the arrival time at four weeks. But the mighty SMEG would prove to be a formidable foe. Its Odyssean journey from southern Europe included Moses basically becoming a supply chain manager, and making a part time job out of phone calls to manufacturers and shipping companies. After inquiries and reorders, discounts, a hold on payment, and constant back and forth, it seemed like her dream fridge would never come. 

“At [that] point, [I was] seriously considering driving to South Brunswick [to find] that container myself. It may seem a little silly to wait this long for a fridge, but we designed the custom kitchen around the dimensions of this particular fridge, which is far from standard size. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.”

Every element that was used was painstakingly researched. Trim like they made in the ’20s is no longer widely available, but resourceful Moses found it online. The floor to ceiling tile is mosaic sheets of porcelain subway tile. The cabinets, drawers and shelves are all custom-built. The countertops and island are all butchers block.

“I left it unsealed, and have done several sounds of sanding and oiling to create a protective barrier. I wanted countertops that are food safe, and will develop their own natural patina over time.

The sink is a Frankenstein’s masterpiece that took a lot of time and consideration, as well as some good old fashioned ingenuity.

“I wanted to have something that would look like a sink in the original kitchen, porcelain coated cast iron, with legs to hold up its weight. There are a few companies that make them like that, but they’re ungodly expensive.”

Moses and Debelius came up with a clever way to get the look without breaking the bank. They found a company online that manufactures early century-style high back sinks out of reinforced cast acrylic, which is very durable and very light weight. And for the legs, Moses went to half off furniture day at the thrift store and found a table with a set of turned wood legs she thought would be compatible. After adding a block of wood to the top of each leg to give them some height, they now make up the custom base for a very sexy early century sink design.

Moses wanted to put an interesting transition layer between the new kitchen floor and the 100 year old wood living room floor. Ceramic tiles were beautiful, but the materials were incompatible.

“After hours of research, I stumbled upon Mirth Studio, a woman-owned company that makes custom wooden, hand painted, tongue and groove tiles. If you read her bio, she was in a similar situation and just decided to make her own! I am more than happy with the result. We even got a little clever and drilled evenly spaced holes in one of the tiles so that it could also act as a vent cover.”

Moses started the demo with her own hammer and elbow grease, but when she needed the hand of a professional, she hired EnhanceIt. The small, family-owned business was perfect for this all custom job that needed great attention to detail.

“There’s only so much you can learn how to do through internet research. And while we’ve done quite a bit of DIY stuff around here, we’re not professionals and I really wanted the kitchen to be completed with finesse. I needed people who are skilled at carpentry and finishing touches, which is beyond our skill set. But as far as design and layout goes, it’s basically plucked straight from my brain, and flawless.” 

By Brian Kaiser

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Home & Garden

Midwest is the Best

Sarah Karakaian and her husband Nick went straight from Kent State to NYC without ever hitting the capital city. They bought an old home in Astoria, Queens, fixed her up, and rented out the mother-in-law suite in the basement on Airbnb, and the income from that paid their mortgage. Living for free in one of [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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Sarah Karakaian and her husband Nick went straight from Kent State to NYC without ever hitting the capital city. They bought an old home in Astoria, Queens, fixed her up, and rented out the mother-in-law suite in the basement on Airbnb, and the income from that paid their mortgage. Living for free in one of the most expensive cities in the world, they soon realized they made a great team. Such a great team, in fact, that they caught the eye of HGTV. After eight episodes of Beach Flip, they found their new calling: Making homes beautiful and functional. They left the hustle of NYC behind, and on a jaunt through town on their RV tour of the US, they stopped over in Columbus, finding a place to buy, sell, and call home. 614 caught wind of the new arrivals, and stopped by to hear Sarah tell their story, and welcome them to town.

Nick and I decided to join forces and started Nestrs, LLC. We did everything from design, construction, real estate staging, selling kitchen cabinets, and even started a blog. Life in NYC was getting increasingly difficult. In order to work in one apartment in one building you have to get board approval, you can only work from certain times, good luck to you if you have anything large to install, and if the super of the building decides he doesn’t like you, you might as well throw the towel in. We often had to pay someone to just sit in our car while we unloaded furniture and tools. I wanted better weather, and Nick just wanted some place where real estate was affordable and where people had driveways and parking lots. We sold our property in NYC, bought a pickup truck and a 37’ travel trailer, and explored.

I had never been to Cbus before. My very first stop in Columbus was the Stauf’s in German Village. Holy shit! The brick streets…the old homes….I was smitten! Nick and I couldn’t believe how cute everything was. We met up with Carrie Cliffel from the KW Classic Properties office and she treated us like she’d always known us. We were like…is everyone in the Midwest this nice?! We found a run-down fourplex in the Grandview area and fell in love! A lot of Grandview reminds us of Queens, where we lived in NYC. You can walk everywhere and there are a lot of locally owned businesses. Since then, we’ve also purchased another investment property in Schumacher Place.

It started to feel more and more like home. People are SO nice here. And so driven. Don’t get me wrong, ever since I was little I wanted to live in NYC. I miss it very much. But the food scene here is on point. You guys know how to make amazing cocktails. And the residential architecture is on point. Do you even know how hot your real estate market is here?! Investing here is smart.

We furnished [our Airbnb properties] with items we found at local consignment stores and even reached out to local artists and vendors to round out the design. Airbnbs are getting crazy competitive so, as a host, you have to be on your A-game. Guests LOVE when they can experience a bit of the local culture during their stay. We leave a Welcome Packet in our spaces that explain where the art and furnishings came from. We direct them to all of our favorite food spots. If they love the countertop in the kitchen we tell them where they can get it. We share our love of design with our guests and they love it.

Designing Airbnbs is very different from staging a home that’s for sale or designing for a particular client. You can have more fun and try new things. You also want pieces that will last a while and will stand the test of time. If you put quality fabrics and materials in your short-term rentals, you’ll spend less money over time, attract guests that appreciate a well designed space, and create something you’ll be proud of.

I always feel my designs have a touch of what I call Grandma-Chic to them. If it borderlines on something that Grandma would be into, but it’s still likely to grace the pages of home decor magazines, that’s where I like to live. Obviously when I have clients, I do a lot of listening. It’s less about our style and more about what makes them tick. But, I’m a big fan of mixing old and new. Wanna frame an antique doily in a chrome frame? That’s my jam. An elegant chandelier paired with a giant handmade leaning rustic wood mirror? Sounds like a good time to me.

Everyone wants a piece of Central Ohio right now. It used to be that if you were talented and grew up in the Midwest you’d either move to the West or East coast. Now? Talent is staying here. We’re excited to be here in Columbus. Houses here are much much different from old NYC apartments. It’s overwhelming how many people we’ve met here who have giant goals and their missions are all the same…to make Columbus awesome. We’re pumped to be a part of that.

For more, visit nestrs.com, or find them on IG at @nestrs

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