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One room at a time

Remodeling 'an evolving process'

By LauraMarie Carmody
Colorful accents pop against warm neutral colors. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
The kitchen was already remodeled when the Heflins bought the home. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
Works by local artists were carefully chosen for their spaces. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
Even the spacious and well-lit laundry room has art. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
A spot for the dining table was created when the kitchen was remodeled. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
The bathroom near the kitchen with its striking square sink. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
A cedar closet became a small office. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
Black woodwork throughout the home helps define spaces. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
The master bath was redone in white with blue accents. (PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)
Mark and Connie Heflin moved to Fort Wayne from Davenport, Iowa, in 2003. While searching for a house, they discovered a 1952 ranch built by John R. Worthman, Inc., a local company known for building custom homes. From their perspective, the house, located in the historic Southwood Park neighborhood, had great potential.

“We thought the house had good bones and lent itself to contemporary furniture,” explained Connie Heflin.

“We also loved the kitchen, which had recently been remodeled.”

The Heflin house reflects the classic features of a ranch, including a long, low design and low, hipped roof with deep eaves, as well as large, multi-paned picture windows. The brick exterior was salmon colored when the couple purchased it. They have since painted it white. Black double doors with large panes of glass serve as the front entrance.

Inside, the simple, open floorplan reveals a family room to the left, a living room to the right and a hallway to the kitchen straight ahead. There are four bedrooms and four bathrooms, as well as a basement.

When the Heflins moved in, their goal was to transform a darker, more dated home into a more open structure with natural light and good family living space. The couple also wanted to infuse their contemporary décor into the house without making the surroundings appear cold.

The Heflins have spent the past eight years updating the house little by little, inside and out. All of the windows have been replaced, the driveway has been resurfaced and the brick exterior was painted. The couple removed the Indiana limestone that began on the front step and continued through the foyer, down the hall and to the back of the house. It was replaced with light hickory wood flooring.

The front sidewalk and step were resurfaced, resulting in a more contemporary look. The main entrance also boasts a new custom lamppost and custom column created by Deco Illusions.

The original family room was a blast from the past, complete with green shag carpet, dark paneling, a drop ceiling and a full-length bar with gold veined mirrors. Pocket doors separated the room from the entryway. There was also a large cedar closet used to store fur coats.

The room was stripped to the studs, the front window was replaced, a pair of windows was added to the south end of the room and three skylights were installed. The pocket doors and surrounding walls were removed, opening the family room up to the entryway.

The cedar closet was reduced to less than half its original size. A portion of it was converted into a room with a desk, printer and Eames chair. The remainder became an inset that houses a computer table and Herman Miller chair.

Cream shag carpeting and beige walls are coupled with black, detailed trim. The trim matches that of the kitchen and was a deliberate choice made by the Heflins to promote consistency throughout the house.  The home’s louvered closet doors are also painted black, as is the window trim in many rooms.

A large brown sectional defines one area of the room, while a glass-top table with woven chairs defines another. A Nelson bench is positioned against the wall just before it dips in at the inset. Floor, potted and flowering plants, along with artwork and family photos, add warmth to an already appealing space.

The living room, located across the entryway from the family room, didn’t require excessive renovation. However, the Heflins did add a fireplace mantle and surround to the room. They hired Deco Illusions to create a custom concrete mantle and surround. The concrete has small aggregate in it and is polished to a high sheen.

The Padauk hardwood floor is a deep orange that fades into a deep brown over time. This same flooring continues into the dining room and kitchen.

An area rug is positioned in front of the fireplace and serves as the base for pieces from Mitchell Gold Furniture, a company in which Heflin used to be part owner. A greenish beige transitional couch with semi-rolled arms and square wooden feet is paired with a matching chair, a brown leather coffee table and a white slip-covered chair. Dark, square end tables are topped with white lamps featuring square bases and round shades.

Throw pillows and a cloth-covered bench add dashes of orange, green and off-white to the room. Paintings by local artists, including Terry Ratliff, also add color and intrigue.

The paned picture window ushers in light, while bamboo blinds are rolled up, ready for use if needed.

The dining room and kitchen, a portion of which is visible from the living room, was remodeled just before the Heflins purchased the house. It was originally designed as three separate rooms — a kitchen, an eating nook and a dining room — but was revamped into one large, open area with designated space for a dining table.

The Grabill cabinets have a warm, light, orange finish and are accented with beige, marbled countertops. The tall upper cabinets are interspersed with built-ins, including a wine rack and open shelves. A cutting table is strategically positioned in the midst of the space.

Commercial grade stainless steel appliances, including a prominent hood above the stovetop, enhance the entire look. Recessed can lighting illuminates the area. The beige walls serve as a subdued background. 

A rounded breakfast counter was incorporated into one end of the kitchen, with the dining room located just beyond that. A built-in desk is off to one side and signifies the end point of one wall of cabinetry and the kitchen itself.

The Heflins made one change to further enhance this area. They replaced the window in the dining room with a sliding glass door. The door provided additional access to a newly built, spacious, whitewashed deck, as well as the backyard.

The bedrooms, located down a hall near the dining and living rooms, have all received attention as well. Improvements include new windows, fresh coats of paint and updated lighting. One of the boys’ rooms now includes the window previously found in the dining area.

The Heflins also renovated three of the home’s four bathrooms. Two of them featured décor that flashed back to the days when counters and commodes matched. One included pink tile and a pink toilet, while the other had avocado tile and fixtures. Both bathrooms were completely updated. The guest bathroom, for example, now has a cast iron tub, Travertine marble shower tiles, Porcher sink mounted to the wall and hickory flooring.

The master bathroom was remodeled late last year. Two separate rooms were combined into one larger space complete with vanities on opposite walls. The crisp white bathroom includes heated Thassos marble floors, white glass tile in the shower, a clear glass shower door with large silver handle and white glass subway tile on the lower portion of the walls that takes on a blue tint.

The vanities are a combination of white Ikea cabinets, custom stainless steel counters, Toto vessel sinks and Grohe hardware. Horizontal, tubular sconces made by Sonneman are positioned above each vanity. A skylight ensures that the room has ample amounts of natural light. A dark leather Eames lobby chair is one of the few items in the room — sans the plants and TV— that isn’t white or silver.

The home’s fourth bathroom is found near the kitchen and was remodeled by the previous owners. It includes Padauk flooring, a square Waterworks sink and warm golden brown walls.      

The basement has also been transformed into a functional, family friendly space. The linoleum floor was replaced with carpeting, the drop ceiling was removed, the block tile walls were covered and a spacious play area was created for the Heflins’ sons. There is a TV viewing area defined by walls that cover the metal support posts and partially separate the space from the rest of the basement. There is also an air hockey table, a pinball machine and plenty of open space. The laundry room, complete with sink, cabinets and a large folding/activity table, is also nearby.

Little by little, the Heflins have molded their Fort Wayne home into what they envisioned it to be eight years ago. And they aren’t quite finished yet. The next phase includes a new roof and exterior trim. According to Heflin, though, it’s all part of the process.  

“It is an evolving process,” explained Heflin. “You have to be okay with (renovating) one room at a time.”

This evolution also includes taking time to find just the right art or furniture to compliment each space. Heflin suggests that blank spaces are OK until you truly find the right pieces.

“A piece of art or furniture is an investment,” she said. “You want to enjoy it for a while. It’s better to have blank spaces until you find what you love.”

Posted: Tue, 05/03/2011 - 10:03 am
Last updated: Fri, 04/27/2012 - 8:24 am