After years spent living in apartments in downtown Cincinnati, Brad Hansman and Drew Ross were ready for a change. They wanted something bigger than their current two-bedroom, one-bath configuration. High up on their punch list was a yard where they could create outdoor living spaces for relaxing and entertaining. Plus, room to run would be a major perk for the two dogs they owned at the time.
“We were over taking both dogs down 13 floors to the lobby of our building, into another tower’s elevator, then up some stairs to a rooftop ‘dog park.’ That required a couple of strong bladders,” Drew says.
Brad, who is a serial searcher on real estate sites on the internet, says the hunt began with a fairly wide scope. “We mapped out every neighborhood we were interested in—Pleasant Ridge, Indian Hill, Madeira, Hyde Park, Clifton,” he says. The focus was on east-side communities since Drew works in retail in the Montgomery area and Brad works in medical research in Madisonville.
After frequent visits to friends who live in Montgomery, the two began to give that community serious consideration. Easy access to I-71 and the Ronald Reagan Highway was an attractive selling point, along with the area’s strong schools, and its walkability and rich concentration of parks.
When a colleague of Brad’s suggested they look at a home she knew was for sale in the area, for a variety of reasons the two were in no hurry to take a look. This was in 2018 and houses were not selling quite as quickly as they would be two years later.
But once they finally decided to check it out, things began to move at a faster pace. “After walking through the front door, almost instantaneously we both said ‘Wow!’” Drew says. “We saw it on a Tuesday, put an offer in on Wednesday, negotiated on Thursday, and settled on Friday.”
Ready to go
The interior of the home had been completely gutted and remodeled by John Foster with Rocked Out Construction. Two additions to the rear of the home included space for a primary suite with a crisp, white bath on one end, and a covered patio on the other.
A sleek new kitchen was the focal point of the first floor with no walls separating it from the dining and living rooms. This level also features a powder room and two bedroom spaces—one now being used as a parlor, the other a home office. The lower level was fully finished with a guest suite, study, laundry room and family room.
“When my wife and I first purchased the home, over 14 years ago,” Foster says, “everything in the home was original. The kitchen had a one-foot section of countertop, and a freestanding stove and fridge.”
A trim carpenter by trade, Foster began renovating the house one step at a time. Wanting an open floor plan, he took down the main load bearing wall and moved the basement door and staircase from a corner of the kitchen to a more central location.
The ranch was overhauled from the ground up, and out. The entire home is insulated with spray foam, adding a level of energy efficiency not typically found in those mid-century ranches. A covered porch complete with its own kitchen was added, extending the living space to the outdoors.
After living in, and working on, the home for seven years, Foster and his wife were lured into purchasing another home—and tackling another remodeling challenge. That left the door open for another set of owners to reap the rewards of Foster’s labor.
“We knew that remodeling can get really expensive, really quick,” Brad says. “Most of that work had already been done.” The electrical and plumbing systems were already updated. The kitchen and bathrooms were beautifully renovated. And the house was finished in tasteful neutrals.
“There was no doubt that this was a really high-quality remodel,” Drew says.
Putting on a new face
Once the two took possession of the home, the first item on their docket was curb appeal. Overgrown landscaping was removed, and fresh new plantings were put in place. A worn blacktop driveway was replaced with concrete which continues on to a new walkway and front porch.
The idea was tossed around to paint the exterior brick, but Brad was hesitant.
“I knew if we painted it, it would completely change the game,” he says. “But I held off because I remember my dad telling stories about my grandfather constantly scraping loose paint off his painted brick home.”
But the idea persisted, and eventually, four years after they moved in, the reddish brick was painted an updating soft alabaster white and dovetail gray. Improvements to the materials should help the paint last 15 years.
To capitalize on their new outdoor space, Brad and Drew began making plans for a backyard oasis. Old overgrown landscaping and a considerable amount of debris—buried cinder blocks, tile, patio concrete—were cleared away. Landscape architect Krista Boggs with Tepe Landscaping was brought on board to oversee the new vision.
Boggs spent time discussing what configuration would be most conducive to how the two entertain. She suggested a radius pool shape, which loosely means three overlapping circles. This arrangement allows for gathering and enjoying conversations while in the water. The architect then introduced them to the team at Westside Pools who would handle the construction.
The perfect pool house
During the months the pool was being built, Brad and Drew began the process of creating a pool house in an underutilized space under the back of their home. This area had roughed in electric and no walls and was used to store lawn equipment, ladders, tools and more, but the home’s new owners had other plans.
“Brad can see the long-term vision,” Drew says. And indeed, his idea for repurposing this space was a winner. Since this storage area did not open to the main part of the home, it was a perfect option for a pool house. Guests would not need to track with wet feet through to the closest bathroom which was located in the middle of the house.
The team at Luxe Design Remodel was brought on board and used the existing L-shaped footprint to create a lounge area complete with a beverage station, sink and dishwasher. On the far side there is a generously sized restroom and changing area. Luxury vinyl tile serves as waterproof flooring. An accent wall, covered in charcoal Valdivian wallpaper from York Wallcoverings, frames in a 10-foot-long settee.
Putting their stamp on it
Wallpaper is used to add a distinctive punch in several rooms throughout the home. The homeowners teamed up with designer Alisa Culyer from Honor and Grace to make selections that reflect their personalities.
“Once we started going through all the patterns, we kind of went on this wallpaper frenzy,” Brad says. “Alisa was there to push us out of our comfort zone away from ‘safe’ choices.” And the results speak for themselves. Bold papers cover entire rooms or accent walls to show there is nothing boring about this suburban ranch.
“People are afraid to make drastic decisions. Society trains us to always think about resale,” Brad says. “We spend too much time thinking ‘what if we move?’ vs. really thinking about living in the moment.”
Embracing this ‘carpe diem’ philosophy, the two are jumping right into their new digs.
They’ve met most of their neighbors while walking their dogs and late last summer they hosted a “Murder in Margaritaland” pool party for 40 of them. No doubt, there will be plenty of gatherings with friends and family poolside this summer. Thanks to the work of a talented team, this 70-year-old home, is reinvented, refreshed and ready to roll.
RESOURCES Original renovation Rocked Out Construction Interior design and wallpaper selection Honor & Grace Designs Wallpaper installation and interior paint Fancy Finishes Flooring JP Flooring Fireplace remodel J H Remodel Interior furnishings Frontgate, Ballard Design, Pottery Barn, Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams Window treatments Budget Blinds Art ADC Fine Art, Litsa Spanos Custom framing Frameshop Backyard landscape and pool design Tepe Landscaping, Krista Boggs Backyard landscape install Tepe Landscaping Pool Westside Pools Pool house Luxe Design Remodel Fence Eads Fence Company Outdoor furnishings Frontgate and Watson’s Front landscape design and install Melena Landscaping Exterior painting Ellison Paint and Restoration Exterior paint consultant Haus by Emily May
Article by Karen Bradner | Photos by Greg Grupenhof
Article originally appeared in May 2023