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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

This Old House: Local organizations strive to preserve beauty of historic Columbus homes

Laura Dachenbach

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The charm of old houses. The fear of old houses. Italianate or Queen Anne or American Foursquare, they are undoubtedly beautiful. But what are you getting yourself into? An endless project? A money pit? Renovations are never as easy as HGTV makes them look. But is owning one of these architectural masterpieces really out of your reach?

If you’ve ever thought about owning an older or historic home, the resources of the Home Preservation Program, part of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, can help you learn to restore and preserve the architectural beauty of an older home, not only for your own enjoyment, but to create a historic legacy for years to come.

The slightly over three-year-old program, a free service, was started by the city of Columbus, but has since received additional sources of funding to help its mission. The program has made 182 site visits for individual homeowners.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

“We’re not selling anything,” said Susan Keeny, director of the Home Preservation Program and an architect by training. “We want to go out and help people with their decision-making when they renovate homes. We also have a whole list of contractors that work on older homes so we feel confident that when we give somebody a list ... that those are people who know how to work with old buildings.”

One of the first steps of purchasing an older home is finding a qualified home inspector or structural engineer, and the Home Preservation Program offers a list of such professionals. “If you do get into structural issues, that could be expensive,” said Keeny.

The renovation process can take a while, so Keeny recommends a priority list that will get an owner moved in and stable: electricity, plumbing, and HVAC systems generally need to be brought up to code.

“Tackle the important things first, and every step you make, you’ve added life to your old house.”

Although renovation isn’t a good option for everyone, it shouldn’t be an unnecessarily intimidating choice. Keeny points out that old or new, all homes require care and investment. And sometimes the investment in an older home is less than one might expect.

“You don’t have to throw out old windows. You can repair them,” says Keeny. “If your wood windows are well-repaired, and they’ve got weather- stripping and you combine them with a storm, either inside or out, you get just as much energy efficiency as with an expensive new replacement window.” Keeny added that a replacement window must be replaced in its entirety, while original windows can be repaired a bit at a time, and are likely to last longer.

In fact, any old wood that looks good probably is good, since much of it comes from old-growth forests.

“We don’t have those forests anymore, and that wood has much denser growth rings—it’s allowed to grow longer. So it’s inherently disease-and rot-resistant,” says Keeny.

The Home Preservation Program holds hands-on workshops to help homeowners with projects like window repair. Other popular workshop topics have included masonry repair, porches, and garden design. Homeowners and prospective homeowners observe that many of the features of an older home were made with basic tools, making many projects more manageable than they anticipated.

Eric Fryxell began work on his 100+ year-old home in Woodland Park: “I have long wanted to fix up a neglected old house. This is because I’m fascinated by the past, recycling benefits everyone, and old houses generally are more attractive and well-built than new ones.”

He reclaimed the house from a poorly-done flip. “Fortunately, the flippers were so cheap they did not damage the house. It had gorgeous original unpainted trim, the old ceilings and original walls.”

In the middle of his renovation process, Fryxell met Keeny at a Home Preservation Program presentation, and found the connection invaluable. “Susan was immediately enthusiastic and helpful, soon coming to my house and working on planning the kitchen, which was the next major and overwhelming step. She produced at least half a dozen plans and was most generous with her time,” Fryxell said. “Dozens of times I anticipated our consultations with pleasure, and was always inspired and comforted by them. Susan was more than an architect. She was also a general advisor and psychotherapist through the ups and downs of a long, exciting, and stressful process.”

In addition to repair and maintenance workshops, Columbus Landmarks and the Home Preservation Program holds Saturday workshops to help people research the history of their older homes. Fryxell has found information on the original owner (and likely builder) of his home, as well as others who have resided at the address throughout its history.

Fryxell has been at work for about four years on his home since its original improvements were shoddy, but he doesn’t regret his decision to purchase an older home.

“True, had I known that it would be so long and frustrating, I may not have bought a house that needed so much work. At the same time, I am really enjoying the process,” he said. “It is satisfying to have control over the future of an old house—its quality, and aesthetics. I feel that I saved a beautiful house from the ravages of open concept, granite countertops, gray walls, painted trim, and recessed lighting!”

But the Home Preservation Program doesn’t see just individual houses. It sees an entire piece of Columbus history populated in neighborhoods with older homes, subject to neglect and possible demolition.

“Those are the ones we want to save because when those start going, you don’t get those back,” said Keeny.

To see if the Home Preservation Program can help you, visit columbuslandmarks.org/home-preservation-program.

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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: Grove City home combines farmhouse feels, industrial inspo for beautiful blend

Regina Fox

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On a little plot of land by The Pinnacle in Grove City, one local woman has transformed a house into a haven for design, style, and expression for her and her family.

Nicole McCullough, a stay-at-home mom to her two-year-old daughter and one on the way, has always had a creative flare. It took life when she and her husband moved into their new home in The Woods development about a year ago. Now, their home is filled with storied antiques that have been repurposed, cute DIY projects, and unique pieces of interest that combine vintage and industrial for a look all its own. Welcome to Columbus Cribs with @littlehouseinthecity614.

614: What would you call your home style?

NM: I like the country farmhouse style with white tones and vintage pieces, my husband likes the industrial look with darker tones and rustic pieces, so together we create something unique. I don’t really know what style you would call it though. We live in a brand new home and we are slowly but surely trying to create some old charm and character within it.  

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

NM: My most favorite piece is my dining room table. I got the table itself at a flea market and then my dad removed the top and put on an old barn door that was from a barn on our property built by my grandpa. My dad had asked and asked my grandpa for that barn door and my grandpa always told him no but then when I asked him he let me have it. Haha, so my dad was a little salty about that deal. 

We added a bench and two accent chairs on each end and I just love the whole look of it and the way it turned out. Our dining room in this house showcases it perfectly. We got an amazing chandelier from Capital Lighting in Polaris, and a cool distressed canvas sign off Etsy from wordsofwisdom. 

Another favorite piece is my chest and mail cubby in my office. I got the chest on sale from Arhaus and the mail cubby was a great find at Elm and Iron!  I had been on a hunt for a mail cubby for quite awhile. I was kicking myself in the butt because I had passed one up once when I wasn’t exactly sure where I could put it and then when I went back for it it was gone. So when I saw this mail cubby one day while browsing Elm and Iron I had to get it and it fits perfectly!! 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxAkvRtlU4c/

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

NM: Local stores I love are Arhaus, Elm and Iron, and The Heritage Square Mall.  I also enjoy going to vintage markets, and such. I just went to the Country Living fair last weekend and had a blast! 

614: What inspires your design style?

NM: I grew up in the country in a log cabin and was surrounded by antiques. Going “pickin” is one of my mom and I’s favorite pass times.  I would say this is where my style started from and it has evolved from there as I got married and combined my husbands style and such.  

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating?

NM: I try to avoid to much clutter!  I tend to like to pile a lot of stuff into a tiny space and it drives my husband crazy. So I will pile a bunch of stuff together and then slowly take away some things until it looks right! I think I redid these shelves a hundred times before I got it right. Sometimes I had it to cluttered and sometimes there wasn’t enough!  I love these shelves though, my husband made them! He is pretty handy and we do a lot of DIY projects.  

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1PQrtznSi6/

614: Any tips for fall/Halloween decorating or transitioning from summer to fall decor? 

NM: I LOVE fall/Halloween decor!! I tend to decorate for fall really early.  It’s like as soon as I burn a pumpkin spice candle I go crazy!! I would say just to find your style and go with it.  Whether that be more subtle or going all out.  I also like to get a little more decor to add to my collectio n each year but I like to go after the holidays when everything is on sale! 

Do you have a sweet Columbus Crib or know someone that does? Let us know at [email protected]

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Home & Garden

Easy Being Green: 3 places to stock up on houseplants

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Your space is your little part of the world. What can you do to make it a little more alive? Plants are an obvious step in this direction, but bad luck and bad experiences can intimidate the new gardener. Fortunately, plant stores and garden centers around Columbus help make greenery more accessible to everyone, ranging from absolute beginners to gardening experts. Here are a few local options to help bring springtime blooms into your living space and gardens.

Stump

Stump is aesthetically designed around the plants it sells. No ceramic creatures sit on the shelves, no butterfly magnets stick to the wall, even the soil is tucked away. The store is just plants in pots, providing inspiration for how the pieces on display could fit within a home.

One of the distinguishing characteristics about Stump is that it focuses on providing one-on-one consultations. Co-owner Brian Kellett says Stump employees like to talk to customers about how much care people are willing to invest in their plants and what their living situation is like. Travel frequency, available space and light, and how many people live in the house can all shape the advice Kellett may give. Even owning pets can be an important piece of information, since no one wants their plant to kill their cat. (Or vice versa.)

“The biggest misconception is it’s not as difficult as you would think,” Kellett said. “There’s certain rules that you kind of play by, like don’t over water.”

Kellett and his wife, Emily, first opened Stump five years ago. While Emily was studying industrial design at the Columbus College of Art and Design, she started doing research on the horticulture industry, and with Brian, was inspired to open a plant store targeting millennials. Brian also studied and later taught at CCAD, and together they applied their artistic background into the aesthetics of the store: a minimalist, greyscale design that showcases the vibrancy of the plants they sell.

Because Stump focuses on houseplants, most of the species it sells are desert and tropical plants. It’s a great starting point for beginning plant parents, says Brian, especially since Stump provides personal service, and the experience can help prepare someone to be more confident in going to a larger garden center.

“It actually works really well because people build up their confidence at Stump and then they’re like, ‘Oh, now I can go to Oakland or Straders and I know what I’m looking at. I know what section of the garden center to look at,’” Brian said.

Check out: stumpplants.com.

Strader's Garden Center

The Strader’s Garden Center on King Avenue is small. Of course, it has all sorts of plants perched from floor to ceiling, including currently the trendy air plants that can grow almost anywhere in a house. But it’s also a treasure trove for quirky yard and house decorations to accompany the greenery, while also providing the tools needed to tend to the plants and keep up with yard work. 

Strader’s Garden Centers is one of the most iconic garden stores in Central Ohio. Jack and Ruth Strader opened the first Strader’s Garden Center more than 60 years ago on King Avenue. Now, it’s grown to eight total locations through Central Ohio, some of which look very different from Stader’s current shop in Grandview.

Along Riverside Drive, near Dublin, Strader’s has an expansive greenhouse with rows and rows of plants, along with a selection of outdoor decor, making it a one-stop shop for all landscaping and gardening needs. They offer fairy gardens and bird houses, along with seasonal plants and flowers to create a garden center with pretty much everything a gardener needs.

Check out: straders.net.

Oakland Nurseries

Taking gardening and landscaping even one step further is Oakland Nurseries, which has wrap-around services and products for everything gardening and landscaping-related. Back in 1940, Gustav and Bertha Reiner founded Oakland Nursery in Columbus, and 10 years later they moved the business to its current Oakland Park Avenue location. The Reiners spent 40 years in their home in the North Linden area, and since they died their house has been transformed into a meeting and education space for green organizations in the area.

With almost 80 years of experience bringing plants into houses, businesses and public spaces around Columbus, Oakland Nurseries has plants for every person and every occasion. 

Inside their garden centers, like one would expect, are seemingly endless variations of flowers, shrubs and trees, including the charming pawpaw tree, which bears America’s largest native edible fruit. This year, Oakland has over 300 varieties and over 10,000 rose plants available, the largest plant selection in Central Ohio. 

But the garden center team provides much more than plants. They also do landscaping, irrigation systems, lighting, streetscapes and holiday decorating. To get people excited and educated about plants, Oakland hosts programs like herbal mixology cocktail classes and “paint and sip” classes where participants make art and drink mimosas. 

So no excuses readers. Get digging. It’s time to plant some roots.

Check out: oaklandnursery.com

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