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Olde is New Again

Renovating a timeworn home is an expedition best endeavored by those open to the twists and turns of a journey through history, style, and compromise. Carrying a legacy within your walls is a distinction offered to few. But the neighborhood of Olde Towne East is saturated with history at every turn, and the tight-knit homeowners [...]
Jeni Ruisch



Renovating a timeworn home is an expedition best endeavored by those open to the twists and turns of a journey through history, style, and compromise. Carrying a legacy within your walls is a distinction offered to few. But the neighborhood of Olde Towne East is saturated with history at every turn, and the tight-knit homeowners love to tell the stories of their abodes. Before the summer tour of historic homes has OTE homeowners opening their doors to the public this month, (614) got a sneak peek into a few of the buildings being remade in this residential renaissance.
Urban History, Unearthed

A streetlight from Chicago, a view of stained glass church windows, buried treasure in the yard, and a baby on the way.

In three years, Michael and Amanda Smith have remade their home on Bryden Road into a polished glow of its ancient splendor. Built around 1893, the elephantine structure boasts unique curved walls and high ceilings. Warm-hued wood banisters and hulking pocket doors are right at home in the entryway, and custom art and details abound.
As we wandered through the house he shares with his wife, daughter, and dogs, Michael reflects on ending up with such a massive home, one they scooped up for far below market value.

“We weren’t looking for a renovation, but it worked out well,” he said. “The size is a lot bigger than we ever planned for. With the third floor, it’s like 4,800-square-feet. But we felt this is a great location, we can really put some work into this and make it something special. And we did.”

Days after closing, the Smiths found out they needed to furnish a nursery sooner rather than later, as a baby was about to make three. And so they got to work.

The house had been split into apartments, so doors and walls needed to be broken down to reparcel the spaces on the second floor. A master suite was added, with an enviable bathroom. It’s a far cry from what they started with:

“I’m not kidding—it looked like a set from the first Saw movie. All white tile, busted and cracked, nasty radiator hanging off the wall. We got rid of it completely,” Michael said.

A huge shower and a stand alone tub now share the space, which is coated floor to ceiling with white Carrara marble from Tuscany. In the walk-through closet between the bedroom and bathroom is a custom stained glass window made by Franklin Art Glass, a final piece of renovation that Michael had installed to surprise Amanda.


Across the street, dominating the view from the master suite is the Old First Presbyterian Church, dating back to 1806. The ancient stone structure has stained glass depictions in the windows that cast their light across Ohio Avenue.

“It’s really nice in the morning, the sunlight comes through the church before the sun gets high. Those stained glass windows just light up,” Michael said.

The Smiths had to begin their work literally from the ground up. In regrading the entirety of the yard, and adding a play area for their young daughter, Josephine, they uncovered a newel post that was tossed aside decades ago. The couple decided to keep the statue, a robed woman surrounded by multiple antique bulbs, as a sort of reclamation trophy. Cleaned up, and set upon a custom pedestal made by Fortin Ironworks, the now floor lamp is wired for power and stakes a claim inside the foyer.

The house acts as a collaborative effort between the homeowners and artists from around the capital city. The sliding door in the guest bath, created by Branches Craft Company, reflects the old six panel doors from elsewhere in the house and has a beveled mirror to recall the antique glass on the entryway door.

Hanging above the stairs is an antique Chicago street light made by Westinghouse, which was rewired and hung with metalwork by the people at The Lamplighter, another in a series of locally-produced furnishings that harken back to a time when everything was custom.

“If you look at the history of the neighborhood, when Bryden Road and Broad Street in particular were built, the people that built those homes, they were the titans of Columbus,” Michael said.

The Smiths feel a responsibility to care for that history as they update their home in a way that keeps it on display for future owners.

“You can get a little nostalgic and think: different people have had a stake in this home at different points in history. When you think about it, at some point in the future, we won’t be here anymore. So what did we leave? It’s a part of that history and continuity of the house. That newel post, at some point 130 years ago, some craftsman was probably out front with chisel sets carving that, and I walk up the stairs and put my hand on it. That’s cool. And that’s what we love about the house and the broader neighborhood—everywhere you look, there’s incredible craftsmanship that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Risk. Renovate. Reward.

She replaced each broken window, and plastered and painted over the bullet holes in the front of the house.
She had a structural engineer reinforce an added wing that threatened to fall away completely from the original structure.
Now, the house on Ohio Avenue stands proudly with a new coat of paint, flowers blooming at its feet. Suzanna Lynch of Sherman Ohio Enterprises sees potential in places that may seem beyond repair. All she needs is good bones and a little elbow grease.
“There was a lot of structural stuff we had to do… But for the most part, the brick house was in great shape. The foundation was in great shape. That back part was just hanging on by a thread.”

Back when the tour started in the ’80s, Columbus had a program where you could buy blighted houses for a dollar, if you renovated them. What started 35 years ago as a walking renovation tour—when the changes in the surrounding neighborhood began to spur curiosity—has grown to include churches, gardens, and 15 homes.

Lynch joined the accelerating movement of renovators in Olde Towne East, and four years later, has found herself growing increasingly attached to her latest project, which she calls her baby. Divided up into apartments, the structure witnessed decades of drugs and violence before being put up for sale in a state of disrepair. It eventually went off the market because no buyers were willing to step in and take on its burden of decay.

But Lynch saw possibility where others saw obligation.

“When people see you working on something, they’re like, ‘Well, hey, I’m going to fix up my house..’ and it just really spreads. It’s really rewarding to see.”
Bright light floods each floor of the house as Lynch strolls down the halls, observing her work. She has become a seasoned house flipper in only a few years, due in part to trial by fire. Her first house in OTE was on Sherman Avenue, the namesake of her business.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was terrible. The roof caved in, it was like Niagara Falls on the front porch, drug dealers around … but when I looked at it, there were beautiful houses all around it, and about every third house, there would be someone taking care of it. And everyone I met there was really nice. So I knew it would be a good investment.”

Like other homeowners in OTE, Lynch attributes her dedication to the neighborhood to the intimate friendships she’s made in her short time there. It’s a place where everyone waves as they stroll down the street, and you can hear calls of questions carried over from previous conversations from porches to sidewalk and back again.

Up a narrow stairway, the attic opens up into a geometrically divided space. Facing the street is a balcony, set on the high third floor. Her little perch above the city has a view of the slowly growing skyline, and Suzanna points to each home encircling hers, referring to the owners by name.
“My neighbor two doors down has been here since he was two. So he’s been here 60 years.  And the lady across the street, same thing. It’s really nice to get to know the neighbors. They really watch out for each other.”
House by house, Lynch and other homeowners are rebuilding OTE from the ground up.

The Olde Towne East Summer Tour of Historic Homes is Sunday, July 9th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are available online in advance for $20, or for $25 the day of the tour. Visit for more.

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Home & Garden

State of the housing market: Top buyer questions answered





"When the mind is in a state of uncertainty, the smallest impulse directs it to either side."--Terence, ancient Roman playwright

Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of COVID-19 Coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help our clients navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered by yours truly, The LKW Home Team, Lauren Lucas & Jennifer Kessel-White.

1. Can we still go see home listings in person? – This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the seller of the home. Currently homes are still available for your agent and you to walkthrough. For protection purposes, The LKW Home Team provides gloves and sanitizer for our clients. The most common trend we are seeing is no overlapping showings, so only one group at a time will enter the house (the buyers and agent) and the next showing will wait for the previous potential buyers to be finished. We are of course, offering virtual tours; this is where we will tour the home for you via Facetime, Facebook Video Messenger, Zoom and more. Hey, we have put multiple homes in contract via virtual tours, so no worries! We have high expectations for our clients, and will measure, and search every nook and cranny.. we GOT YOU!

2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? – Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. We will provide gloves and hand sanitizer for you, and will keep our safe distance.  During the tour, we suggest designating one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing. This should be a fun and exciting experience, so have no fear, we are amateur jokesters, your biggest cheerleaders, and provide an honest opinion that only your mother-in-law would appreciate.

3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? – To start, we hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, we will FaceTime you with cocktails and support, and listen, we will suggest options and have your lender work their butt off to find any other option possible to help. 

Most real estate contracts include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. If your financial loan can not be completed due to furlough or loss of job, there would be no penalty to the Buyer.

4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? – Yup, I mean we are about to cross the finish line, and you need those measurements for that massive Ikea order, we get that, and are happy to help with those answers or meet you for a walkthrough. It’s very common for the buyer to have easy access to the home during the escrow period; home inspections and appraisals are common reasons to visit the home during escrow. 

5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – We all know there’s no crystal ball, (hey, whatever happened to Miss Cleo… ) but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated to sell. We are still showing and listing homes on the daily. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it.

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you’ve been waiting for during this time. In the meantime, we will tune in with Dr. Acton and Governor DeWine each day at 2PM! 

The Columbus market was ranked 7th hottest market in the nation for March, and 38% of new listings are going into contract in the 7 days! Columbus is still booming, and we are here for it! 

Written by Lauren Lucas and Jennifer Kessel-White of the LKW Home Team, Keller Williams Classic Properties. We are ready to get the drill out and post the for sale sign in your front yard, or bring the gloves and sanitizer and/or virtual tour to you so you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home. Call us at 614-321-9262 or email us at [email protected]

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Home & Garden

Amp up your home style with color and quality from Georgie Home




Move over, Pantone Color of the Year! A new local business offers a coordinated collection of quality home goods designed in rich color palettes, so consumers can easily and affordably elevate their home style.

Georgie Home, launched by Lauren Wagner and Laura Sullivan, offers thoughtfully designed home and lifestyle products. The company is dedicated to producing high- quality, simple, friendly goods to make your home feel fresh.

“We wanted to create something where we felt really good about the quality and offer products we’d want to have in our homes. We didn’t want something that you just run to a big box store and buy,” Wagner said.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Wagner and Sullivan’s journey to launch their company was relatively quick. The pair worked together as graphic designers at a national company headquartered in Columbus in the early 2010s. As they searched for inspiration and created mood boards for work projects, they realized they had a similar vision.

“We’d get excited and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do our own thing some day?’,” Wagner said.

A few short years later, that shared vision was realized when Georgie Home’s first collection launched in November 2019. Phoenix is a line of hand and bath towels in coordinating colors and patterns. The duo started with towels because it’s an easy way to bring a bit of luxury into the home, and high-quality towels will last. While most high-quality towels are plain, Georgie Home offers something unique by combining quality with patterns.

“When you reach a certain age, it’s nice to have a little bit of luxury, and you might as well get something that you will have a while for just a little more money,” Wagner said.


As designers, Wagner and Sullivan are passionate about color. And when they first started working professionally, there weren’t a lot of ways to feed that passion.

“I was having trouble coming up with color palettes and there weren’t a lot of online resources, so I started creating my own,” Wagner said. “I would find images that inspired me and pulled my color palette from that.” She began sharing these online in a blog about a decade ago, a collection that has evolved into an Instagram account.

As one can tell by Georgie Home’s collection, their current favorite colors (because, like all of us, Wagner said it changes over time) are sage and ochre (a warm yellow- brown) for Wagner, and dusty blue for Sullivan.


Carrying color over into home decorating doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Wagner suggests using neutral colors such as whites and greys for walls, flooring, and furniture, and using pops of color throughout your space with items like throws, pillows, and wall hangings. She also likes to add natural elements such as dried flowers, which are trendy now.

“I keep my walls the same and change up everything around it,” she said. “My taste changes over time and this lets me update my décor without painting.”

This approach also makes it easy to decorate for the seasons.

“I will add things for the holidays, and I’ll add color in the summer and greenery in the winter,” Wagner said. “I keep it simple–I won’t change my wall hangings, but I’ll update my dining room table, my mantel, and towels.”

If you’re not sure where to start, Wagner suggests perusing Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration.

“There are a lot of home bloggers that are inspiring,” she said. “Find something that you love and recreate it.”

Wagner has a long list of local, chain, online, and brick-and-mortar stores where she finds her decorating elements. Locally, she recommends Jewelweed Floral Studio and Stump as great sources for plants, and Trove Warehouse and Elm & Iron for accessories and furniture. The outlet malls and Wayfair are great for budget-friendly options, and antique shops and Etsy are great if you’re looking for something no one else has. The big retailers such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Pottery Barn Kids also have some great pieces.


Wagner and Sullivan hope to move Georgie Home into the brick-and-mortar space. With the first collection launched, they are reaching out to retailers to explore wholesale opportunities locally and nationally.

They’re also planning for their second line, which will launch next spring or summer. The collection is likely to include placemats, table runners, and tablecloths. While they haven’t decided on a color palette, it will be fresh and coordinated, and inspired by the season.

Shop Georgie Home’s inaugural collection at

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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: Scandinavian style, minimal holiday decor in this Columbus cookie-cutter-home

Regina Fox



Sam Berry is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about raising her daughter, Scandinavian design, photography, baking cookies, decorating her home, and sharing pics of it all on her Instagram page @chicincolumbus.

She recently moved into a builder-grade cookie-cutter-home in Columbus, which she and her husband are slowly turning into their perfect home. Keep reading read to learn how they're doing it!

614: What would you call your home style? 

SB: I struggle to describe my home style with one word or phrase. I recently took a design style quiz online that kind of opened my eyes to what my style actually is, because it’s all over the place. I love Mid Century Modern but I also like a touch of Industrial. I love Scandinavian design as well but I'm not enough of a minimalist to execute it well. I love a comfortable space that doesn’t feel too much like a magazine (not that I could ever live up to that expectation).

614: What are some of your favorite items in your home?

SB: My favorite item in my home is the gold armchair I inherited from my late grandma. I have many memories of it in her home and love that I now have a place for it in mine. It is unique and embodies the Mid Century side of my home decor style (it’s also one of my favorite colors: mustard yellow). I also have a vintage Danish teak sideboard from Boomerang Room that I swoon over every time I walk by it. I would love to know who owned it before it made its way into my home.

614: Can you tell us some of the places you have found your items, or places you like to shop? 

SB: I get my things from all over, but primarily I shop either new at Ikea and West Elm or secondhand via Craigslist/Instagram/Facebook Marketplace. I have found some great secondhand deals, which turn out to be some of my favorite pieces. My favorite places to shop for decorative accessories are Grandview Mercantile, Elm & Iron, and World Market.

614: What inspires your design style? 

SB: I am inspired, as I’m sure many are, by Instagram (@_forthehome, @beginninginthemiddle, and @reserve_home are some of my current favorite feeds) and Pinterest. I love that there are so many different design styles and people out there, so there’s a never-ending supply of inspiration. I have thousands of pins and dozens of saved Instagram posts that I often review when I feel the itch to tackle a project or redecorate a space. I love to take an image that inspires me and recreate it with the items I already own.

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating? 

SB: I try to avoid buying and displaying things that I don’t really love. I believe the items we own can be beautiful and functional at the same time. I actively try to pare things back to only those that “spark joy” à la Marie Kondo. In addition to limiting my decorative items, I also try to not solely follow trends unless they align with my style. 

614: Any tips for winter/Christmas decorating? 

SB: Use what you have! I have so many items that were castoffs from my mom that I love so much so I make sure they have a place. I have added a few things over the years here and there as I come across them. Like the rest of my decor, I try to stick to only displaying those items that I love. I recently donated/threw out a lot of things I’ve been hanging on to that just don’t fit my style at the moment. Now I have room to replace them with things that fit better.
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