Home & DIY

Our 1930’s Rockland Dream Home. A Practical Guide to Renovating.

With the birth of my son in July of 2019, I felt a strong pull to move back home by my family. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Columbus, OH to pursue law school. I met my husband while I was attending school and we planted roots in the vibrant city of Columbus. Columbus made us happy for a long time. Good food, good people and a vibrant arts community. Plus, Teddy’s family was near by and a great support system.

Everyone always said – once you have a child everything will change. I anticipated schedule changes, more responsibility, but I didn’t anticipate the emotional changes which included not wanting to miss out on raising my son by my brother, parents and relatives.

Honestly, with what felt like on a whim, we decided to uproot our lives and move to Rocky River, OH. Rocky River is a quaint city with good schools that sits on Lake Erie. You know, the kind of city where children walk to school and friendly faces smile as they pass by with some sort of doodle mix on a leash. The historic downtown area contains small family run businesses and you have this sense of safety in the community that you don’t quite get anywhere else. Not to mention I am within a 5 minute drive of all of our immediate family. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve bumped into relatives at coffee shops or the grocery store.

House hunting was well, an absolute nightmare. We lived two hours away from Rocky River and when a house came on the market in our price range it was gone within 24 hours. The story of how we got our house has a little magic weaved into it. We were looking at the house across the street from our future home. My husband, Ted, walked out the front door, pointed to the brick colonial across the street, and said “If only that home was for sale.” – sure enough a month later it was. Ted drove in as soon as it was on the market and looked at it for us. He loved it. He saw the potential. Without ever seeing it myself, I told him to put an offer in. Within 48 hours we found out it was ours!

As you can see, the exterior is beautiful. The brick is aged with faded red and brown tones popping out from every corner. The white framing on the front door curves in all the right places inviting you into the home. It is right around the corner from historic downtown Rocky River, our backyard has a Whole Foods, and an ice cream shop is a stone’s throw away. Did I mention a wine bar is less than a 10 minute walk?

The interior – well – that was a different story. The house was well maintained, but very segregated.

There was a traditional dining room, kitchen, family room and bonus room.

The kitchen was outdated with wood that probably was a hit in the 90’s, white appliances and laminate flooring. The dining room was covered in wallpaper, which secretly I didn’t mind, had built in cabinets and an old fashioned chandelier. The family room had sheer curtains that covered the large stunning windows. The bonus room was a TV room. It had vaulted ceilings and a huge picture window. Fortunately, there was a half bathroom off of the kitchen – which must have been added later in the house’s history. We counted our lucky stars because most of the older homes we were looking at only had one bathroom!

The house felt so closed off and an open concept was something I desperately wanted. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat cookies while being able to face the family room and watch the TV?

The upstairs had three bedrooms and a finished attic which could be a fourth. Not to mention a full bath, if you could call it that. The full bathroom was small. We knew it would have to be expanded if we wanted to get ready in the morning with kids and not lose our minds. Each of the bedrooms was covered in whimsical wallpaper.

The basement had wood paneling and a built in bar. But the best part was the retro bench built into a bookshelf of sorts. It was orange plaid and the color was so loud you couldn’t miss it when you walked down the steps.

I started daydreaming what I wanted the interior to look like. Building it out room by room in my mind.

Eliminate the wall from the kitchen to the dining, the dining to the family room. Create one big open space.

Put an island in the center with beautiful cabinetry and add in lots of light.

Expand the doorway from the bonus room into the family room and add glass French doors to allow light to flow in from that huge picture window.

The master bathroom could be expanded into a closet that sat right behind it for additional space.

When you peeled back the carpeting (which you probably shouldn’t do until you own the home, but shhh…) there was original white oak flooring that looked like it had never been touched. So I knew restoration was in order. Something so beautiful couldn’t be hidden.

I saw the potential and that’s all I needed, was the potential to make something mine. To bring back the original beauty of this home with a twist of modern.

So with that we embarked on finding an interior designer and contractor to help make our dream home a reality and BOY did we learn a lot!

Here are a few more photos:


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