Murielle and James Adair lived two blocks away from their dream home for years before it finally came up for sale. When it was finally theirs, they would embark upon a whole-house remodel a year in the making, a dramatic transformation led by Melissa McCall, owner of McCall Design LLC, and general contractors Justin Power and David Lipkind of Shelbyville Remodeling.
“We really let this home tell us the features that we should keep,” McCall said. “From the ground up, we kept the good parts of it and continued that look through to each floor, making updates along the way.”
The home – with its double lot and placement on a ridge with a great view – had long been an object of desire for the homeowners. Neighbors were happy to hear that the house would be remodeled instead of split into two separate lots with giant homes on each. They wanted room for themselves and their two daughters, and a larger kitchen and family room, while also keeping some of the original touches that made the home unique. Together, the team brought the house into the modern era while still preserving the 1940s character that had attracted the owners.
“Murielle knew early on what look and style she wanted, so we kept it simple and classic,” McCall said. “And she wanted it to not look like a 1942 home that was remodeled in 2017. From the street it looks like a contemporary house, but the inside it still has the character of 1942.”
The original low roofline and long, narrow floor plan presented challenges. To create more flow, the team kept the basic footprint of the first floor but widened existing doorways and added new ones, so you can see all the way through the first floor from one corner to the other. The second floor was totally reimagined, from a partially finished attic-like space into a totally new, full second floor that includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a family room and a laundry closet, with large windows all around to take advantage of the great views.
The existing first-floor bathroom, with its original pink tile countertops and pink tub, was much too charming to rip out. All it needed was fresh paint and a new hexagonal-tile floor, including 1942 spelled out in black tiles as an homage to the house’s build year. They left the basement untouched, including its original red linoleum bar, red barstools and knotty pine walls. Round globe lights from Cedar & Moss replaced many light fixtures throughout, but other original fixtures remained to capture the era’s verisimilitude.
The remodel maintained most of the exterior first-floor walls along with the original plaster walls and original millwork. But to make the rest of the house less “of an era,” the team chose classic Shaker-style cabinetry, sanded and replaced hardwood floors, and gave the home’s interior and exterior of a palette of lightly colored paint to make it feel even more bright and open. Now it maintains a classic yet contemporary gabled roofline but has doubled in height, with a covered balcony above the front door that is only accessible through the upstairs master suite.
In order to expand downstairs, the team removed the walls of a small bedroom off the kitchen to create an open sitting area and added built-in cabinetry. As the kitchen took shape, new oak floors were feathered into the existing hobnail oak floors, which were refinished to match.
One key feature was the original winding staircase—its one-of-a-kind curved metal handrail adds elegance to the stairs. Natural light streams in through French glass doors off the upstairs family room into the stairwell and landing. All in all, the home is now a comfortable size at just under 3,700 square feet.
“The whole house has this great light because of its placement on the hill,” Lipkind said. “It respects its origins as a 1940s home but now has an ageless classic look that will hold its appeal for decades to come.”