Delight in Downsizing
Lynn Reecer, president and managing broker of Reecer Properties, originally bought her villa home on Mallard Cove in 2013 to use as temporary housing for clients who were between homes. But as her children went off to college, she and her husband Mark began to realize that their large family home was no longer necessary. They decided to downsize, renovate the villa and move in. The villa is 4,400 square feet with four bedrooms, three full baths and one half-bath.
“I was very familiar with the builder, Roy McNett, and knew the house was solid and still in great shape. It was just outdated. It was done in the 1980s and still looked like the 1980s,” said Reecer.
One thing Reecer did throughout the home was open it up by expanding the doorways. “Everything was more sectioned off in the 1980s. But I think rooms today can be too open. Sometimes when the house is too open, it is hard for the rooms to have different personalities because it just becomes one really large room,” she explained. But by making the door frames wider, there is a sense of openness in the home, but each room can still feel independent and thus can have a different feel and look.
The kitchen doorway was opened up to the den and its original sliding glass door was removed since there was another sliding glass door in the den. Reecer felt that she only needed one point of entry. This allowed her to get more cabinet space in the kitchen.
All of the kitchen cabinets are custom made by Brookwood Cabinet Company. The home also has a large island, and the former bar area was turned into a planning desk. Reecer chose shiny marble countertops and a porcelain farm sink as she likes the contrast of the materials.
Its three entryways were opened to the home’s other rooms. One aspect of a home that Reecer feels can be under-appreciated is the ceilings. “Putting wood on the ceilings can add so much warmth and character to the home,” she said.
In the dining room, wood beams were added, and the ceiling was painted with a glaze. The walls are painted with shellac. Reecer worked with artist and painter Mark Doolittle to do the special finishes.
“Mark had some great ideas. He is able to take outdated stained cabinets and rub them with a glaze and completely change the look and feel,” she said. “People don’t like oak anymore, but instead of completely painting over it, Mark can do a glaze and completely change the look. We did this in the upstairs recreation room with the bar. I always loved the Ralph Lauren restaurant in Chicago and really wanted the house to have that library cozy feel.”
Reecer put up wallpaper by Quadrille. “Sometimes wallpaper gets a bad rap, but today wallpapers are so pretty. I like using it in small rooms. It can add so much personality,” she said. “Wallpaper can be expensive, so doing it in a small space can keep the budget down and still allow you do something fun.” In the powder room, the Quadrille wallpaper was paired with a little metal sink.
The stairs’ original stringers and treads were kept; they were just re-stained. Local architect and designer Frank Souder created a new staircase design. “This was really important because the staircase is so noticeable. It is the first think you see when you walk in the house. And this entryway is unique because it is very high. With such a big entryway, it required a staircase with a bigger scale and more oomph,” said Reecer.
The biggest change to the house was the fact that the ceiling in the living room was raised. The trusses were left exposed and were stained in dark walnut to match the floor. This help to give consistency and to ensure the room would not look chopped up. “The living room was just four walls. There was no bookcases or fireplace. We completely changed the look and feel of the room,” said Reecer.
“I just love the house’s floor plan. I can be on the porch and see the living room, kitchen and den. I love the way it flows,” said Reecer. For the porch, accordion doors that open all the way were added, and Eze-Breeze windows were swapped for the screens. These windows have a vinyl glazing that offer the benefits of glass without the weight and the transparency of glass but are not as heavy. They also help to keep the dirt and rain off the porch. Originally the outdoor patio was very small, but Reecer worked with her landscaper to expand the area and put in a complete outdoor kitchen.
Reecer explained that many couples are getting rid of their family homes sooner than previous generations. “We knew that our home was going to be different without the three kids. There was a lot of emotional attachment to the house, but I’m pretty practical. I knew that stage of our life was over and we wanted to start the next chapter in a new home,” she said.
“Although we were in our family home for 23 years, the move was much easier than I thought. And just think about what you can do with the money when you downsize… you can get a condo at the lake or travel.”