In Salt Lake City, fresh design and an updated floor plan breathe new life into a 1950s ranch home.
By Brad Mee, Photos by Scot Zimmerman
When a retired couple in Salt Lake City decided to revamp their 1950s ranch-style residence, they knew it would take much more than reupholstering a sofa or repainting a wall. Located in the quiet St. Mary’s neighborhood, the modestly sized home had a list of challenges making it ripe for a major remodel: an odd floor plan, dysfunctional spaces, old features and a dated decor.
“It was a mess,” says designer Gregg Hodson. Solving the home’s problems without adding to its footprint, the designer transformed the 2,600-square-foot dwelling into a showplace oflivability.
Hodson began by evaluating the flow and existing functions of each space before going to work. “The floor plan was noticeably awkward,” says Hodson, who repositioned walls on both of the home’s two levels to ease movement throughout and to create more usable spaces. “In a small home, every room needs to earn its keep,” he says.
On the main level, Hodson redirected the entry into the living room rather than down an existing hall that oddly bisected the main level. He also removed a wall that enclosed a dark, descending stairwell and replaced it with open railing that allows light to flow from the adjoining dining room into the stairway leading to the lower level.
Downstairs, he converted a maze of small dark spaces into a large inviting family room, as well as a children’s playroom and comfortable guest quarters. The designer enlarged windows and expanded window wells to flood these rooms with light, making the once dim basement look and feel like a bright garden-level retreat.
New enlarged windows update the main level with equal impact. “We had to replace the old windows anyway, so I thought why not create larger windows that are more gracious than the original long, narrow versions from the ’50s,” Hodson explains. The metal-clad wood windows deliver shots of “wow” to spaces throughout, perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in the living room.
Once serving as a little-used sitting room for the holidays, the revitalized living room now performs as the hub of the home and opens to a spacious patio, not through outmoded aluminum-framed glass sliders, but rather through what appears to be a wall of new French doors. One door opens as expected while the others are actually framed windows with affixed handles to replicate doors.
“The space couldn’t accommodate three working doors, but I wanted it to look like they all opened to the patio,” Hodson says.
The designer performed similar sleight of hand on the living room’s lackluster flat-faced fireplace. He created the illusion of depth by popping out the fireplace chimney three inches and then adding a mantel and hearth to the extension. “It looks more stately and substantial,” says Hodson, who then designed a grid of molding that serves as modern paneling that updates the fireplace’s feature wall.
Visually the treatment expands the room both vertically and horizontally. On the ceiling, Hodson installed tongue-and-groove paneling that replicates the paneling above the adjoining patio and decoratively links the two living areas together.
Hodson flowed this fresh, timeless design-and mid-tone oak floors-from the living room into the nearby dining room and the completely remodeled kitchen beyond. There, dark painted cabinets, stainless steel appliances and white Caesarstone countertops give the small room a decidedly modern, yet classic, style.
A short hall leads to a vestibule that unites a revamped home office, master suite, guest bedroom and hallway bathroom. A new skylight brightens the vestibule where new cabinets house as well as hide the washer and dryer. “We wanted it to look and feel like a nice room, not a walkthrough laundry,” Hodson says.
The homeowners are quick to praise Hodson for bringing new life to every room of their old abode. Without expanding the modest home, he significantly improved it both aesthetically and functionally. Of course, that was the designer’s plan all along. As Hodson explains, “Now the house not only looks new, it lives new as well.”