Kenwood resident rebuilds near her childhood stomping ground
Whether it was over the river, through the woods, around the block, or a several hour drive away, those of us who were lucky enough to spend chunks of our childhood at grandparents’ homes often cherish the memories of a happy, simpler time. So six years ago when Karyn Dyehouse, M.D., a single mother with two young children, was looking for a safe and pleasant place to raise her kids, she kept an eye on one particular area in Sycamore Township. “I basically grew up in this neighborhood. My grandparents lived one street over from here,” Karyn says. “When a house came up for sale I jumped.” F Even though the late 1950s two-story house needed some work and the mortgage would be a challenge initially, Karyn felt strongly that she was making the right move. The location held plenty of perks: great schools, easy access to Ronald Reagan Highway and downtown, an abundance of shopping options nearby, and one big draw—Karyn’s mother now lived in what used to be her grandparents’ house.
When she bought the house in 2004, Karyn was in medical school with no surplus of money or time. “I would moonlight at the VA Hospital’s emergency room to make the mortgage payments,” she says.
Soon after she moved in, Karyn met Tom McDonald. Tom worked on the house and the yard while Karyn completed her residency and fellowship. The couple married in 2006 and shared their vision of a makeover. But fate took a tragic twist when Tom was killed in a car accident just over a year into their marriage.
A few years later, still dealing with the devastation, Karyn decided to carry on with the couple’s dreams and remodel the home they had briefly shared. “Tom’s death was part of the tragedy and part of the inspiration behind this,” she says.
Now a practicing oncology hematology care physician in the Anderson/Eastgate area, Karyn attacked the project with an expanded budget and a clear purpose. After having a couple of years to plan her renovation and think things through, she contacted the Robert Lucke Remodeling group.
In her initial conversation with Scott Lucke—who coincidentally was just completing an ambitious makeover of his own 1950s ranch—Karyn shared her wish list which included a bigger kitchen, a mudroom off the garage, a first floor family room, a master suite with a walk-in closet, and easier access to the spacious back yard.
“From the street, Karyn wanted it to look like a brand-new house,” says Lucke. She didn’t want it to look like a remodel—with a bump out here and a section there.”
The Dyehouses cleared out their house and moved in with Karyn’s mother on December 1, 2009. While the kids were enjoying the holiday season with their grandmother, around the block, Lucke’s crew was getting busy. One of their first priorities was helping Karyn hold on to some memories.
“I preserved a lot of things that were important to my husband,” Karyn says. “There’s a swing in the back yard that he built for my daughter. I told the crew, ‘Nobody can touch the swing. I don’t care what you do to the house, but don’t touch the swing.’”
The homeowner also asked Doug Ratterree, Lucke’s VP of production, to save several azalea bushes that Tom had planted in the front beds, along with a dogwood tree from the back yard.
“Doug created a plant bed to the side of the house so that the plants could grow and be unharmed during the construction,” Lucke says.
Those fuchsia azaleas are about the only element that is recognizable now when viewing the house from the street. The construction crew bumped out the entry area to create more space for a dramatic treatment of the center stairs and grand double entry doors in mahogany and glass. Over the entry, a cantilevered space expands what was a small bathroom into an oversized Jack and Jill to be shared by Karyn’s 12-year-old son Kai, and 14-year-old daughter Kesea.
Creative work by architect Joe Brown transformed a double-wide garage door into two singles. One of the openings was pushed out about three feet and an inside wall was moved to create additional width. This was no small feat, according to Lucke, but the new garage space along with its mahogany trim are well worth the effort, adding considerable interest to the front façade.
Artist in residence
Stepping inside, visitors immediately see the handiwork of another individual who practically grew up in this neighborhood—Karyn’s brother, Bob. Bob Dyehouse is a sculptor whose metal work is found in several prominent locations around town including Adam’s Landing, The Taft Museum, Eden Park and multiple private residences.
The University of Cincinnati DAAP graduate created the steel railing with a bronze patina which introduces the center stairway, a vanity/mirror combination in the hall half bath, a wine rack in the center hall, and a railing for the deck off of the great room that somehow manages to feel airy.
“He is phenomenal,” says Karyn. “He has an eye. Any suggestions he gave me—even if I questioned them at the time—always worked out perfectly.”
One of the first things visitors no doubt notice is the home’s green exterior, which is painted in a Sherwin-Williams Wild Sage with Wilderness Green trim and Terra Bronze gutters. As with many design decisions made throughout the process, the homeowner got assistance with color choices from Lucke’s designer, Carole Kemper.
“I was a little nervous about the exterior paint,” says Karyn. “I was originally going to go with gray and white but I was really drawn toward the lighter green. I really don’t know how this exact color came about, but I love it.”
There are also multiple green items that aren’t as visible from the street. The home is equipped with a geothermal HVAC system and will soon sport solar panels on the south facing section of the roof which should generate at least 500 kilowatt hours per month. According to Karyn, both of these steps are a no-brainer. They help reduce the home’s carbon footprint and often they eventually pay for themselves once tax incentives and rebates come into play.
Just getting started
Karyn and her children just moved into the home in late April. There’s still plenty of decorating to do inside the home to make it their own, but right now they couldn’t be happier. Kai, of course, loves the huge television installed in the lower level, Kesea loves the window seat in her bedroom, and a waterfall installed by Lichtenberg Landscaping is a big hit for everyone in the family. The kids like washing their feet off in it after running through the lushly landscaped yard, and Karyn likes to sleep with her window open to hear the waterfall and birds when she wakes up each morning.
And just beyond, a dogwood’s roots grow deeper in the neighborhood soil, just like the roots of the family inside.
Contractor: Robert Lucke Remodeling, a division of the Robert Lucke Group; Architect: Joe Brown; Designer: Carole Kemper, Robert Lucke Remodeling; Flooring: Belmont Flooring; Kitchen cabinetry: Sims-Lohman; Kitchen countertops: Kitchens by Rutenschroer; Kitchen backsplash: Belmont Flooring; Kitchen sink and faucets: Moen; Appliances: KitchenAid from Custom Distributors; Bathroom cabinetry: Homecrest from Sims-Lohman; Bathroom countertops: Kitchens by Rutenschroer and Sims-Lohman; Bathroom faucets: Moen; Lighting: Central Light; Painting: Sherwin-Williams by Premier Custom Painting; Multi-room audio and video and home theatre: Extreme Audio and Video, Inc.; Landscaping: Lichtenberg Landscaping; Windows: Silverline by Andersen from Pro-Build; Doors: Creative Entries, McCabe Lumber; Home automation and security: Extreme Audio and Video, Inc.; Railings: Bob Dyehouse of Sycamore Street Studio