Cleveland Heights, OH — Clients occasionally get carried away by the design process, imagining every change that could be made, each beautiful product that could be selected, how one room could lead seamlessly into the next. Generally, they don’t actually make all of their desires a reality. However, that wasn’t the case in a bath remodel project undertaken by Jim Karlovec, principal and lead designer at Shaker Heights, OH-based Karlovec & Company Design/Build Remodel, who saw a one-room job blossom into something much larger.
“We were initially contacted by our client to handle a design/build remodel of a master bath in their existing circa 1919 home,” he says. “Over the course of 18 months, our clients made a series of decisions that eventually evolved into a whole-house remodel.”
This included a master suite remodel of the bedroom, bathing area, water closet, his-and-hers dressing areas and a luxurious foyer. Six additional bedrooms were remodeled, as were three additional baths, a third-floor game room, public areas including stairs and hallways, a screened-in porch and a total renovation of the couple’s kitchen.
“A key challenge was the need to create a space that was both comfortable and human-scaled for these empty nesters, while also providing room for visits from the clients’ five adult children and their expanding families,” says Karlovec.
According to Karlovec, the kitchen constituted the single largest, most expensive and complicated of the various projects his firm completed in the home.
“A series of small-to-medium sized rooms originally designed as kitchen work and storage spaces for live-in help did not suit our clients, nor would this be particularly attractive to potential buyers down the road,” he says.
Designed for living in a bygone era, the kitchen’s multiple rooms included prep areas, a butler’s pantry, a walk-in pantry, two clothes closets, another storage room and a cramped, isolated room that the homeowners had been using as a TV room. All told, these rooms made up 640 square feet.
“Our task was to integrate the many disconnected spaces into a more family-friendly whole while staying true to the architecture and era of the home,” Karlovec adds.
During a lengthy planning process, the firm decided to remove the primary load-bearing wall that was holding up the three-story brick house, along with two additional walls that acted as significant visual and traffic pattern barriers.
Multiple seating areas were planned into the space, including prep island seating for three at 36" elevation, bar seating for four at 42" elevation, breakfast room seating for six at a 30" high table, couch seating for three plus an upholstered chair adjacent to the couch.
“All told, we were able to include five different types of seating capable of holding 17 adults at one time,” Karlovec notes. “And, one of the best parts of it all is that the traffic patterns are clear so that, even with a full house, everybody is within earshot of each other. Most seats have a clear view of the large flat-screen TV that we included in cabinetry custom built and finished onsite by our in-house crew.”
The traffic in the kitchen flows around a central island, designed to allow people to congregate while leaving room for the cook to move about the space.
“Our client loves to cook. Being able to socialize with her family and friends while she prepares meals is important to her. So, the island serves as both a large prep area and a place for people to sit and talk and – hopefully – help out in the kitchen,” says the designer.
The impressively scaled space includes two Wolf ranges to accommodate an identified need to have eight burners available while cooking. A large custom-paneled French door refrigerator from GE Monogram is flanked on either side by glass doors on the upper cabinetry to “help balance that wall and make it appear less cabinet-heavy,” according to Karlovec.
To maintain a period-consistent look, a radiator to the left of the drawer front custom-paneled Asko dishwasher is disguised with a painted metal panel, the same shade as the cabinetry. Custom maple cabinetry from Cabinets by Graber features the company’s full-overlay Russett style in Antique White. The island cabinetry is also from Graber, in cherry full-overlay Stuart style in a Washington cherry stain with a black glaze. To accent these colors, Karlovec selected a spate of decorative hardware from Top Knobs in an oil-rubbed bronze finish, including knobs and cabinet and appliance pulls.
Other appliances found in the kitchen include a hood from Independent, and a Sharp microwave drawer located in the island.
Natural stones were used throughout the space, including Midnight Sun Leather granite with an eased edge on the perimeter countertops and pass-through. The island is topped with Silhouette granite with an ogee bullnose edge.
The above-mentioned pass-through connects an updated TV room to the kitchen.
“People in the kitchen can pull up a bar stool to the pass-through to watch TV, have a glass of wine, etc. It connects the two rooms, but offers enough separation so the client isn’t cooking over the heads of those sitting on the sofa watching TV,” says the designer.
Other spaces in the kitchen that received significant attention include a reformatted breakfast nook and walk-in and butler’s pantries.
Before the kitchen was conceived as a potential project, Karlovec and his team were doing work on the master suite, which would start off the remodeling frenzy that would soon overtake the whole house.
During the three-month design process and four-month construction schedule, Karlovec & Company worked closely with the clients to spot and overcome every potential bump in the road. Some of their requests proved challenging primarily because, at times, their requests conflicted with one another, such as whether to use painted woods in spaces or opt for stained wood instead.
“Certainly one of the more challenging aspects of the design process was striking a balance between competing preferences,” says the designer.
The overriding concern in the bath, though, was maintaining a style consistent with the original architecture of the home, and eventually the clients and Karlovec struck the right balance to make that happen. The color palette of warm neutrals would begin with product selections in the bath, including Kohler’s corner bath in Biscuit and two of the company’s Caxton sinks in the same shade. An array of fixtures and accessories from California Faucets are featured in the company’s Mocha Bronze finish, including water closet amenities such as towel hooks, paper holders and robe hooks. Other items include a Roman tub faucet, widespread lav faucet and 8" fixed rain showerhead.
When all was said and done, 160 sq. ft. was allocated to the bath, 78 sq. ft. to the foyer and 130 sq. ft. to the dressing room.
The foyer that ties together the master bedroom, master bath and the ‘hers’ portion of a his-and-hers dressing room is the signature distinctive element in the master suite, according to Karlovec.
“This is the key room that allows the entire remodel of this space is work so effectively,” says the designer. “The arched and cased opening plus the well-planned wall space to hold the clients’ beautiful furniture and art are highlighted by gimbaled, 4" recessed can lights. The bath would just not have come together nearly as well without this wonderful space.”
Karlovec concludes: “We feel the finished product can be described as ‘simple elegance.’”
For more about this project, click here.