By SUSAN CONDON LOVE
Beverly Franklin grew up in Chardon, but spent most of her adult life in another quaint city — Alexandria, Virginia, living in an historic townhouse and working for the U.S. Patent office. In 2012, though, with two rambunctious five-year-old twin boys, the small, albeit historically located home became a problem, especially because of its lack of a yard. Beverly decided a change was in order. She moved back to Northeast Ohio and rented a home — not in Chardon, but in Chagrin Falls.
“I’d always loved Chagrin Falls,” she said on a recent, unusually chilly and gray July afternoon. “I thought it was beautiful and dreamed one day of living here.” Beverly’s criteria for her new home was specific — it had to be located in a great school district and there had to be room for her two boys, Hunter and Colton, to play and grow. Living in Chagrin Falls fulfilled both her childhood dreams and her adult needs.
She found her dream home in May of 2012 — a quaint white and brick house with a tangled and overgrown front yard, a sinking foundation and enough levels (four!) that she and her children would have space and, if they needed it, privacy.
Without a glance back, Beverly bought the 3,100-square-foot house, which had been in foreclosure, for $264,000. And then the real work began in the house with a decor stuck in the ’60s and many serious structural issues.
“I divided the work into three phases, working with Laurie on the last three,” she said, pointing to Interior Designer Laurie Lindbloom of LZL Interiors, sitting beside her in the cozy living room. “The first phase was strictly structural.”
In all, Beverly spent $120,000 in the first phase, fixing the foundation (“Half the house was sinking,” she said), replacing flooring, updating the plumbing and electrical, gutting the outdated kitchen and removing an in-ground swimming pool. “The pool made me very nervous, with two young children,” she said. “Also, it took up most of the yard!”
Once she was assured the internal structures of the house were sound, she began the fun work.
“We started on the lower level first,” she shared. On this Saturday afternoon, that area, accessed off the entryway, was occupied by Hunter and Colton playing with Legos and video games. The first thing visible from the steps is a giant aquarium, filled with hidden gems such as a pirate chest, a scuba diver, SpongeBob and a spaceship. Off to the right of the aquarium, a foosball table is ready to be played and a wet bar, including a granite countertop working area, invites visitors to relax. Windows beyond give the first glimpse of a large back yard that looked to be a children’s (and adults’) paradise. But more on the back yard later!
Back up on the main level, Beverly proudly showed off her living room, the focal point of which is a stone fireplace with a slate hearth. “The stone was painted white,” said Beverly. “One of my first requests was to have the stone sandblasted.”
The pop of muted orange and brown colors on the stones draws the eye, making it the visual centerpiece of the room. The soft beiges and off-whites of the area rug, couch, loveseat and chair create a comfortable space with an easy elegance.
“The couch is a pull-out bed so the boys can enjoy ‘slumber parties’ in front of the fireplace in the winter,” shared Laurie Lindbloom.
The nearby dining room is small, but utilitarian. A unique black armoire, with beveled mirrors, gives the room a bigger feeling, while also evoking a glamorous touch reminiscent of the 1920s. “I actually found that and knew it would be perfect,” said Beverly.
The galley-shaped kitchen is bright, modern, and exudes comfortable elegance with white cabinets, white appliances, light white and gray granite and plenty of windows. Recessed lighting made the area bright, even on a gray day.
A trip upstairs (the third level, counting the play area located below ground level), showed just how awesome Beverly is as a mother — the boys’ bedroom featured “pirate ship” beds, complete with sails. Just down the hall, past a spare bedroom, Beverly’s bedroom revealed the scope of both the renovations and the incredible backyard. The focal point, walking in, was an oversized window revealing a yard filled with a pirate ship playset, a huge tent, a conversation pit for adults, another patio for dining and lots and lots of space for Rosie, the family’s rambunctious one-year-old flat-coat retriever, to run after balls and boys.
Once your eye moves from the bedroom window, you see two delineated areas — one dominated by a king-sized bed, the other a relaxing reading area with a big white shaggy rug. A beam in the ceiling subtly separates the space. “That is the structural beam they had to install to support the upstairs,” shared Beverly.
The en-suite bathroom is huge, again featuring white fixtures and a large whirlpool tub. The final level of the welcoming house is what Colton and Hunter call “the learning space.” With its sloping ceiling, the space at this level was a perfect fit for a large desk for the boys, another reading area for Beverly, and a designated office for Beverly, who works from home. A full bathroom was located on this level, as was a spare bedroom that Beverly is just now starting to fill with family antique furniture.
“We really love the colors and the comfort that Laurie helped us achieve,” said Beverly. “The boys and I love this house.”
The ‘60s can no longer claim Beverly’s home as its own. This is one home that is solidly in 2014 — and will be timeless for many decades to come.
Susan Condon Love is a
freelance writer based in Lakewood.