small project that grew into a big success
Text by Lori Roberts
Photos by E. Anthony Valainis
From the road, the traditional style home looks
as though it has stood the test of time. The weathered white brick
exterior shows a hint of red peeking through. Cedar shingles line
the roof, giving it a warm and endearing character. Only those
familiar with the home's history would know that they are viewing
the result of a magnificent metamorphosis.
|Photo by E. Anthony Valainis - Indianapolis
Almost a year's worth of work went into bringing
this 1960s home into the millennium. Mazes of hallways and small
compartments that used to pass for rooms have been replaced by
a serene setting of spacious rooms, calming colors and abundant
natural light. Very little of the former home remains; instead,
the homeowners have created the quality home of their dreams.
No one expected a complete transformation. The
homeowners bought the home because they loved the location: it
sits adjacent to the Crooked Stick Golf Course, offering the perfect
vantage point for viewing the rolling green expanse. But the husband
and wife did not love the home itself. A dark and closed in structure,
it featured too many small rooms and too few windows to truly
take advantage of its setting.
"When you walked in, you just kept seeing
walls," say the wife. "You bumped into walls and hallways.
You did not see the golf course at all unless you went thru a
couple of rooms. We knew we had to do something about that."
It was through their real estate agent and friend,
F.C. Tucker Realtor Cheryl Olsen, that the couple connected with
the man who would help them transform their new home. Olsen referred
them to W.G. Tait, Inc. President, Bill Tait, who, in addition to his
track record as the builder of two Indianapolis Monthly Dream
Homes, enjoys a good reputation for building and remodeling luxury
When he first sized up the home, Tait thought
he could address the homeowner's desires with a partial remodeling
project. As he discovered structural shortcomings and other problems
that could not be easily repaired, however, Tait realized the
project needed to expand. "Some remodel projects just grow,"
he says. "They just kind of get a life of their own. When
you start getting into it, you see things that were done wrong."
For instance, Tait discovered that the home
had been wired with aluminum wiring, which poses a fire hazard.
As a result, although the original plans did not call for the
home to be completely rewired, Tait and the owners deemed it a
necessary change. Other flaws became apparent as Tait and his
crew started work: they found instances of poor supporting structures
and inferior materials, all of which demanded more than simple
remodeling. Before long, the entire home was gutted and rebuilt
from the ground up. At one point in the renovation, the home was
nothing more than "a roof on stilts," the wife says.
Of course, now the homeowners are reaping the
benefits of this remodeling project that grew and grew: they have
a new home that has been designed to their specifications. They
enjoy such classic touches as tumbled stone tiles and marble accents,
as well as large windows that add to the home's airiness. They
also live among the clean lines and consistent color that give
their home a harmonious feel.
In short, the homeowners found that welcoming
touch they had in mind when they first began working with Tait.
"We like a house where you can walk in without taking your
shoes off," the wife says, "and where you sit on the
sofa and put your feet up."
This ambience greets visitors as soon as they step into the home's
spacious entryway, a stark contrast to the original entrance that
opened up to a staircase and a hallway. While it was functional,
the old entry added little character to the home. To improve the
home's first impression, Tait added about 10 feet to the front
of the structure, giving him the space to open up the entryway
and create a more welcoming reception area for visitors.
Once inside, visitors find the home to be a striking combination
of whites and taupes, from the tumbled stone tiled floors to the
walls and woodwork. To complement this contemporary style, Tait
eschewed the traditional detailed woodwork that fits so well into
some of the old-style homes on which he has worked. Instead, he
chose a simpler molding created by W. G. Tait Woodsmiths, a separate
company specializing in handcrafted, custom woodworking. The result
is a one-of-a-kind accent in a one-of-a-kind home.
The first floor of the home has ample space
for living and entertaining. The homeowners, who prefer casual
parties to formal sit-down dinners, wanted a relaxed yet classic
setting, and architect Don Scott, who designed both of Tait's
Dream Homes, gave them what they wanted. The main level includes
a formal dining room, spacious kitchen, living room, sitting room,
screened porch and master suite, all combined in a breezy floor
plan that allows rooms to flow into each other. Entryways have
been widened; small rooms have been combined or enlarged. Windows,
doors and skylights have been strategically placed to welcome
the outside view so dear to the couple. "The golf course
is part of the house," the wife says. "Everywhere you
look, you see the golf course."
The home's most striking interior feature greets
visitors immediately when they enter: a wrought iron and oak staircase
that replaced the enclosed stairway of the original home. A work
of functional art fashioned by Ron Schouten of Schouten Metal
Craft, the stairway features handcrafted balusters that seem to
float in place, holding silky steps that remain open in the true
style of the home. With the entryway walls eliminated, very little
obscures the view of the golf course, which is easily accessed
through the French doors at the back of the room. "When you
walk in the front door, the stairway allows you to see out the
back," Tait explains. The east side of the home serves as
the setting for the dining and kitchen areas. The formal dining
room, just off the entryway, has remained essentially the same,
but Tait opened up its small doorways to create a 6-foot opening
to the entryway and a wider, 12-foot opening to the kitchen area.
The dining room furnishings are simple tasteful, with the centerpiece
being a sturdy, circular pinewood table designed by Bob Beauchamp
of Beauchamp Antiques. A removable lazy Susan sits atop the table,
allowing the homeowners and guests to easily serve themselves
during a casual dinner.
The kitchen that sits adjacent to the dining
room serves as a focal point for the family. "The kitchen
is always an important place," the homeowner says. "It
has to be big, comfortable, cozy and just practical."
To ensure those qualities, a new custom kitchen
was designed by Reese Kitchens. The original kitchen's dark brown
cabinetry was replaced with warmer taupes that blend in with the
rest of the home and add brightness. Corian countertops sit above
an abundance of cabinetry, while bar stools help make the center
island a comfortable spot for preparing the evening meal. The
result is a warm and inviting kitchen suitable for entertaining
party guests or cooking for two.
|Photo by E. Anthony Valainis - Indianapolis
Monthly 1999 Photographer
Just off the kitchen, Tait created a cozy spot
for relaxing or conversing with the cook of the evening. Just
big enough to accommodate a couple of chairs, or a reading table,
the space also includes a wet bar made of rich maple accented
with a copper faucet and sink. The wet bar's dark colors provide
a rich contrast to the light colors of the home, making it a conversation
piece with a unique flavor.
In that same area, the old home had a screened
porch overlooking the back yard. The homeowners appreciated the
view, but wanted to make better use of the porch as a space they
could use year round. So Tait remodeled the area as a breakfast
nook and included a picturesque bay window. He then relocated
the porch off to the side, but gave it a facelift as well, adding
a bluestone floor and beadboard siding to give it the air of a
The family's living room sits at the back of
the home. While the original home design did not take advantage
of the view afforded by that location, Tait added two and a half
walls of paned windows that both bring the outside in and accent
the room's spaciousness. A wood floor and a marble-hearth fireplace
add warmth to the space. As in the rest of the home, the homeowners
have kept furnishings to a minimum, hoping to keep the living
area uncluttered. They hope to maintain this clean look, but do
plan to add accenting pieces as they find and fall in love with
them. "We don't overfurnish. We don't have too many bits
and pieces standing around," the wife says. "We do look
for an uncluttered."
As visitors return to the front of the home,
they find themselves in a cozy sitting room. A French rectory
table sits in front of a fireplace, while a line of French doors
that open to the patio dominates the back of the room. A wet bar
just off the front room has been converted into a powder room,
complete with an antique bureau serving as a vanity. Beauchamp
Antiques provided both the rectory table and the bureau.
In order to give the homeowners the spaciousness and abundance
of light they sought, Tait had to remove walls and add large windows
and doors. He explains that the original floorplan's small rooms
and closed-in spaces were fairly common in homes of the 1960's.
In those days, Tait says, architects were apparently more concerned
about privacy and multiple spaces than they were about views to
the outside world. "I think in a lot of cases, it's prevalent
countrywide," Tait says. "Since then, floor plans are
much more open."
As a result of this shift, the homeowners actually
reduced the number of rooms in their home; in exchange, they increased
its openness. For instance, the master suite now fills the space
that used to hold two bedrooms and baths. It was a reasonable
exchange: while the couple has friends from all over the world
and likes to entertain visitors, they do not need two bedrooms
on the main floor. By combining the rooms and taking advantage
of the space provided by the addition to the front of the house,
Tait was able to create a luxurious master suite worthy of any
five star hotel. This was accomplished without giving up the bedroom's
site on the back corner of the home, which means the owners maintain
their privacy and their own special view of the golf course. An
original dark brick fireplace was replaced by a more contemporary
one lined in stone tile and marble and accented with more of the
home's bright white woodwork. Although the master bedroom itself
is only slightly larger than the one it replaced, its new tray
ceiling makes it look much larger and has the added benefit of
adding character. "Anytime you've got a roof line that will
allow you to raise the ceiling up, you do it," Tait says.
The master suite's bath is spacious and comfortable,
with ornate built-in cabinetry, double sinks and plenty of countertop
space. While the bath area is large, it doesn't seem overwhelming
thanks to its design and the use of colors in keeping with the
rest of the home. The shower alone plays tricks with space and
perception: from the bath area it looks like a typical size shower,
but it' actually an L-shaped shower that runs the width of the
bathroom. To complement the spacious shower, a garden tub sits
ready as well.
His-and-her walk-in closets put the finishing
touches on the master suite. The closets have been built with
enough light and space to allow the homeowners to choose a day's
outfit and get dressed without leaving the closet. Built-in quality
cabinetry with dovetail drawers offers a convenient place for
storing clothes without cluttering the bedroom with extra drawers.
The wife's dressing room also includes a large island and packing
chest, a full-length mirror and even a full window to admit natural
light. Wood blinds preserve privacy when necessary.
The upstairs is home to two spacious suites, one designated for
the couple's son and the other for guests who are lucky enough
to spend the night. In the son's room, Tait removed the closets
that lined one wall and replaced them with a built-in desk and
space to accommodate a computer, schoolwork and even a mini refrigerator.
To replace the closets lost to this move, Tait added a walk-in
closet. The teen's room also gained an adjacent full bathroom.
The guest suite, like the master bedroom, also
benefits from the extension of the home's front. Thanks to the
extra space, Tait was able to include a large bathroom and walk-in
closet. This results in a huge improvement over the original floor
plan, which required guests to use a bathroom that was down the
hall – one that could not be accessed without passing in
full view of the downstairs.
The original home also included an attached
guest suite with its own stairway and entry. Tait guesses that
this was the result of a remodeling project done after the original
home was built. The old layout included a bath outside the bedroom,
a setup that was not particularly hospitable for guest. Tait improved
on this arrangement by putting an attached bath in the room's
original closet, and then converting the original bath into closet
space. The result is a room where guests can enjoy comfort and
privacy while still sharing good times with their hosts.
In the lower level, Tait found a series of concrete-block
walls forming a maze of rooms resembling a dungeon.
He and his crew took sledgehammers to those
walls and opened up space for a large recreation room and laundry
area, still managing to leave unfinished areas that can be used
for storage or built out as the homeowners have the need. The
original stairway to the lower level was removed, and a new stairway
was built into the space created by the addition to the homes
The home's exterior received as much of a facelift as the interior.
In order to change the home' original red-brick exterior, the
couple hired an artist from Foley Custom Finishes, who sponge
painted the home a subtle off-white, giving it a textured and
natural appearance. The same artist worked throughout the house,
so the effect remains consistent.
The homeowners didn't care for the older pool
and deck that sat in the home's back yard, so Tait worked with
a local landscape company to develop three levels of patio and
decking. Both the top and the lower levels are accessible from
the home, while the middle level offers a private spot for the
hot tub that replaced the pool.
Although the finished product barely resembles
the original remodel plans for the home, the homeowners are delighted
with the result. Their patience has been rewarded with a home
that meets their needs and fulfills their hopes. "We love
it," the wife says. "It's a house that really feels
good. It's a big house, but it doesn't feel really big. Each room
flows into the next. It feels good to walk in there and sit down.
We know that even when it's gray outside, it's still a very bright
When the new homeowners bought this house, they
loved the location but not the house itself. They gutted it and
created an open bright space where there had been a dark, compartmentalized
house. For this story, home remodeling by Bill Tait of W.G. Tait, Inc.
and photo styling by Diane Wright.
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