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Remake. Revise. Reward.

One could say Jeff and Rachel Danziger have a penchant for ground-up thinking.

That’s probably why their friends thought they were crazy to purchase and completely overhaul a sprawling Worthington home—only five years after having a house custom built for them and their family. But …

“When we saw this house and its private wooded lot—we knew that this was a rare find in Columbus and we couldn’t turn it down,” Rachel said. “We immediately started brainstorming how we could transform this house into our forever home. “

And thanks to their collaborative vision with Reliance Design Build, “forever” arrived a littler sooner than expected.

This isn’t your traditional remodel—the previous home’s look was more off-style from the current owners than in disrepair— so we decided to follow along with the couple, step-by-step, to find out what goes into a top-down, inside-out remodel project of this scope and size. 

From the first moment we walked in the house, we knew that we needed to brighten the interior, highlight the amazing wooded lot, and to make the space more functional.  Pinterest was an amazing resource as it allowed us to find images that closely resembled what we envisioned, and to share that with everyone working on the project.  When searching for inspiration, Studio McGee and MyDomaine were two of our favorite sources.

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The house originally had five different types of flooring on the main level.  It took three painstaking weeks to rip out the original floors and make the necessary repairs.  But installing continuous hardwood floors really helped to improve the visual flow through the house.  

Our favorite room is the library.  Formerly a den with pine wood paneling and a brick hearth, we completely re-imagined this space with built-in bookcases.  One of the most impressive features of the room is the original brass fireplace hood, which now shines against the navy cabinetry and soapstone hearth.  When our budget prevented us from removing two support columns, our creative solution was to build in cabinetry to house Jeff’s whiskey collection, turning an eyesore into a functional space.  While it’s certainly not the most-used room in our house, it highlights everything we wanted to accomplish in this renovation: a cozy, warm, and inviting space that embraces the original character of the home, yet feels distinctly modern.

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As the remodel progressed, we tried to stay true to our initial design.  But some adjustments were made as we realized the benefit of completing the whole house at once.  One of the best changes we made was creating a laundry room on the main floor: we realized we’d never do it down the road since it would require ripping out our new hardwood floors.  

The most difficult part in tackling a project of this size was prioritizing the elements that would provide the biggest impact while ensuring that we didn’t exceed our budget. It’s not easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding to have a house that feels completely updated and complements our lifestyle.

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We had casually discussed how amazing the house would look with a dark painted exterior, but we always considered it a future project.  Once we realized that parts of the exterior trim were rotted and needed to be replaced, we decided to proceed with painting the whole house to avoid any potential paint matching issues.  With new modern front doors and exterior lighting, the house has a whole new feel.

Tips of the Trade

The Danzigers offer some extra advice and observations for anyone finding themselves in the remodel revolving door:

Give your budget a buffer. We would recommend that anyone considering a renovation be firm with their budget, but leave room for unexpected expenses.  There is bound to be an unforeseen issue, or better yet, an amazing opportunity to improve your space that you can’t live without.

Don’t underestimate the power of paint. Our kitchen looks brand new at a fraction of the cost through the use of fresh white paint and updated hardware.

Not everything you uncover is unsavory… or budget-busting.  When we removed the brick hearth in the library, we discovered an existing gas line.  We opted to install a gas fireplace, making cozy evenings by the fire as easy as flipping a switch.

Moving sucks … even if you never leave home. It’s possible to live through a renovation of this scale without having to move out of your house.  Since the second floor was an easier project, we started there first.  Once completed, we moved upstairs and remained there for the next five months while the first floor was renovated.  It was tough to repeatedly pack-up boxes and to live without a kitchen for months.  But on the bright side, we took advantage of the opportunity to sample the many amazing restaurants in Columbus!

Birth is the ultimate deadlineRight as we finished the remodel, we learned that we were expecting a baby.  It was such a relief to know that we had accomplished everything we wanted in this renovation and did not have to worry about tackling projects in the future with a toddler running about.

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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