Every now and then, a marriage is made in home renovation heaven.
Consider Ashley and Jeremy Hansen. He’s a handy guy who learned from his father and on his own how to do meticulous carpentry. She’s an interior designer and former flooring consultant who has a way with color and style.
Together, they’re the proud owners of a turn-of-the-last-century home in historic Williams-Woodland Park neighborhood – a house that, in the last seven years, they’ve made over for sleek, contemporary living while retaining touches of traditional charm.
Every project got progressively harder. The first project was just knocking down a wall. Then we did the kitchen, which was more difficult, says Jeremy, a quality assurance manager at BAE Systems.
Neither of us are professional people when it comes to remodeling. It’s learn as you go, he says. It’s all about getting experience and going from there.
Of course, difficult, according to Ashley, is a bit of an understatement when it comes to the experience of remodeling their kitchen.
First, she says, a stairway to the basement had to be closed in to make way for the refrigerator and a powder room. Then, she recalls, there was a time in the middle of winter when, after a wall was torn back to make way for a new sink and cabinetry, she could put her fist through a hole to the outside.
We were outside in the rain patching it this past New Year’s Day, Ashley says.
But a visitor would never know it now while standing in the spacious center-island kitchen. Dove-gray walls play nicely with a slate-gray floor and black,-white-and-gray-speckled granite countertops. Ivory crackle-finished farmhouse-style cabinets are highlighted by a coffered ceiling Jeremy designed and built himself.
He’s the kind that if there’s a crack somewhere, that bothers him, says Ashley, owner of Taber Street Interiors, who calls the kitchen – overflowing with natural light from original leaded-glass windows and a new clear transom over a windowed back door – Pottery Barn contemporary chic.
Ashley says she let original features of the house influence her interior designs.
One key piece was a brick fireplace in the center of the house, which was a burnt-orange color. Instead of painting it, she decided to paint the downstairs living areas a darker shade of the color, which is also hinted at in original stained-glass windows in the living room and on the landing of the magnificently preserved oak stairway.
Ashley says she also wanted restored original dark-oak paneling in the entry and woodwork, including pocket doors and columns in doorways, to stand out.
So she kept the rest of the furnishings neutral – beiges and dark leather for couches and chairs, and beige for carpeting. The dining room chandelier has a rubbed-bronze finish in keeping with the traditional feel.
More of Jeremy’s handiwork can be seen upstairs in coffered paneling he installed to give a more finished, elegant look to the upstairs hallway.
He also installed built-in bookcases and cabinetry flanking a fireplace in the master bedroom, where that wall was knocked down to make more space from what had been a fourth bedroom.
A guest room is at the front of the house, and the back bedroom is now a cozy media room retreat with a big-screen TV.
When it comes to baths, the house has a bit of a split personality, the couple concedes.
The master bath is modern, with a double sink and walk-in shower. The second upstairs bath, graced by perhaps the home’s most unusual feature, is period-appropriate.
Above the bath’s claw-foot tub and marble-look tiling is a circular domed decorative plaster medallion that holds a large round pendant light.
The master bedroom’s colors are a restful and subtle light Wedgewood blue, taupe and brown, and the guest bedroom is finished with sage green, taupe and gray.
Ashley recalls the biggest nightmare of redoing the house as the time her husband decided to tear down plaster in the upstairs hallway without telling her.
I came home and there was dust everywhere, she says.
But now the home, from its charming front porch with carved wooden swing to its bay window looking out on big autumn-leafed trees, is ready to receive visitors.
It will be open, decorated for Christmas, from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 1 and 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 2 for the Williams-Woodland Park Holiday Home Tour.
But before that, she says, she’s hosting a big family Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, expecting about a dozen guests and planning to roast a duck as well as a turkey in her hard-earned kitchen.
Redoing the house hasn’t all been fun, but it’s made us the stronger for it, Ashley says.
And, Jeremy adds: If we can do this, we can do anything.