When Robert and Kathleen Rice moved into their 1970s ranch home almost 25 years ago in Shawnee County, they knew it needed updates.
The long, narrow entry hall, wood-paneled wainscoting and closed-off living spaces were fine for the home’s first decade, but far from the open-concept trend in modern-day houses. However, life got in the way of any changes happening.
“When you have small children growing up, you don’t have the time and money to remodel,” Kathleen said.
Now that both of their daughters are adults and the only “children” at home are four dogs, a cat and two guinea pigs, the couple decided it was time to make a change. Robert noted many people update their house just before selling, but they wanted to remodel so they could stay. Kathleen was looking for openness and brightness.
Winston Brown was called on to do the work. Robert said the choice was primarily because of the company’s stellar reputation: “They’ve been around for years, and we wanted someone who knew what they’re doing.”
The project opened up the walls of the entryway, living room, dining room, kitchen and family room. A stairway to the basement is in the middle of the area, but the full walls were made into half walls to open up the sightlines and let in more natural light. Also, a backyard pond was moved to accommodate a new set of sliding doors.
The Winston Brown design team helped the couple pick out the surfaces that would fit their family’s lifestyle. Robert and Kathleen chose flooring that looks like wood but is actually vinyl with a cork backing to withstand animal traffic.
The Custom Woods kitchen cabinets are white, and the island is a rich wood tone. There are also two shades of granite countertops that complement each other.
Some of the most beautiful woodwork in the home is somewhat bittersweet. The new bookcases around the fireplace, as well as the mantel, were built by the late Stephen Snyder, who was killed in early May. Snyder also built a beautiful raised feeding station for the dogs, with a separate bowl for each animal.
Kathleen and Robert were told the project would be complete in three months. In actuality, it took six weeks.
“Winston Brown was very organized,” Robert said. “They had at least two guys working her every day, and one guy dropped off supplies in the morning and cleaned up in the evening.”
“They were very pet-friendly,” Kathleen added. “The guys made sure nothing was in the way for our blind dog to run into. They even offered to let our dogs out if we needed them to, and they made sure our cat stayed in.”
For the couple, the hardest part of the remodel was packing up everything and carrying it downstairs, just as if they were moving. Plus, no matter how careful the workmen were about keeping everything clean, there was a lot of dust.
Robert recommended putting plastic over everything, and Kathleen recalled, “When they were done, we had to bring everything back upstairs, dust and all.”
The best advice they got before the project started was to set aside a room somewhere else in the house in which to live. Otherwise, they would have been stuck in their bedroom throughout the remodel.
They chose a middle bedroom to make into a living area, with an oversized chair they both could share, a small refrigerator, a television and four dog kennels. The back bedroom became a pantry, with a microwave and snack food.
“Plan to eat out a lot, or have great friends who invite you over for dinner,” Kathleen said.
Robert and Kathleen are thrilled with the remodel. When asked if they would have done anything different, neither could think of anything.
“I love my double ovens,” Kathleen said. “I can’t wait for Christmas, when the girls come over to do the baking with me.”
Linda A. Ditch is a freelance writer from Topeka. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.