Renovations modernize a 1970s Champaign home

Homes: Renovations modernize a 1970s Champaign home

Renovations modernize a 1970s Champaign home

Diane and Rob Ore’s 1970 home on Bedford Drive in Champaign had a lot of features they were looking for, but its style wasn’t suited to them.

Story: Christine Walsh

Photos: Christine Walsh

Diane and Rob Ore’s 1970 home on Bedford Drive in Champaign had a lot of features they were looking for, but its style wasn’t suited to them.

The Ores bought the home, which has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, in November 2000 because they wanted to move from their two-story home to a ranch, and Diane liked that it was red brick. “It does sort of feel safe and solid,” she said.

They also liked that the 2,500-square-foot house had a “mother-in-law suite,” affording privacy to guests.

The Ores hired Darcy Bean Custom Construction to renovate their kitchen in late 2012. “It didn’t look anything like this,” Diane said of their kitchen. “They gutted the whole thing.”

The kitchen originally didn’t have separation from the living room, so a friend built a partial wall with a ledge and a breakfast bar. “It was a huge, open space,” Diane said.

The refrigerator used to be in a corner where a wine rack is now. The stove was where there’s now a television that allows them to watch their favorite news programs and classic movies while cooking or eating. The microwave was sitting on a counter rather than mounted as it is now. There were no drawers other than the ones for silverware. The window over the sink was enlarged. The cabinets had no glass. “It was an extra expense but makes them look a lot prettier,” Diane said.

There was vinyl linoleum on the floor, and there was no island. “It was just a big, empty space,” Diane said. “Nothing remains of the old kitchen.”

Diane, who normally favors fall/winter colors, considered a number of different hues like blacks, browns and earth tones for the backsplash behind the range. “I said, ‘Let’s do red, but not fire engine red – blood red,’” she said. “Black is my favorite color, but I didn’t want a house full of black.”

The backsplash features tiles in a pattern designed to look like flames. A ledge covered with the same tiles along the wall beside it provides a small storage space to keep the countertops clear of frequently used items.

Bean had suggested that the kitchen be designed for eating at the island. “But I said, ‘No, you can’t talk to people that way,’” Diane said. “I had this vision – I didn’t exactly know how it was going to work. We came up with this concept where you come in and it’s welcoming.”

And so they designed a banquette with colors that mimic those on the backsplash. When they couldn’t find a table to fit the space, they had one built. Woodie Alan’s furniture store owner Alan Anfinson found the coordinating chairs from Italy. Diane even found a bowl in matching colors at TJ Maxx.

The maroon or Inca red color scheme runs throughout the whole house. Diane chose Corian countertops because it was the only material that she could find in the color she wanted.

The project was delayed as there was some difficulty in getting the Douglas fir for the cabinets from Washington. Aside from getting the wood for them, choosing the cabinets was challenging. “I like straight lines offset by curves, but every cabinet I saw was sort of boring straight,” Diane said. “Even the ones that were high-end like cherry didn’t appeal to me. I was getting desperate.”

Finally, the very last cabinet picture Diane saw ended up being the one she wanted. “It sort of looked like art,” she said. “The wood was unfinished and beautiful. It’s just really natural, and I really like that about it. I need for it to be functional too.”

In the meantime, the Ores moved their refrigerator into the dining room, put up a folding table, used a George Foreman grill for cooking and ate off of paper products for four months. “If we had to wash anything, it was in the bathtub,” Diane said. “It was absolutely crazy.””

Diane bakes a lot, and one of her favorite features is a shelf for her stand mixer that pulls out from a cabinet under the island. There’s even a cabinet built just to accommodate a stepstool that Diane uses to reach high cabinets.

A two-drawer dishwasher allows her and Rob to wash small amounts of dishes when it’s just the two of them and more if they have company. Drawers just opposite of the dishwasher makes it easy to put away freshly washed dishes.

In a corner where there would otherwise be dead space, there is a base cabinet swing-out that pivots and fits in the cabinet.

“There’s a drawer for everything,” Diane said, opening one to reveal her collection of various teas. One is designed to keep all of her alphabetically arranged spices easy to view and access. “It saves me hours,” she said.

Diane highly recommends her stainless steel GE Café appliances with a restaurant-inspired appearance, especially her warming drawer. The gas range allows her to char vegetables like eggplants. “And I can adjust it better,” she said. “My microwave does everything. It’s great. It helps me bake, defrost and reheat.”

The track lighting with pendants functions to illuminate kitchen tasks while accenting the wall.

Cubbies built into the island and next to the refrigerator give lots of storage space for cookbooks, aprons and placemats. Diane’s laptop computer is always within easy reach on the counter. “This is sort of like command central,” she said.

Diane wanted two sinks within 3 feet of each other; one for chopping vegetables, and one for washing dishes. She does most of her food prep while standing at the kitchen island, so she wanted cushioned mats along the base, even though she said the cork floor is soft. “I don’t sit very much; I’m a stander,” she said.

Diane was warned against having cork in a kitchen but said water damage has never been a problem. “I love this floor; it never shows dirt,” she said. “It’s natural. I love that it matches everything.”

Diane said the home’s layout is ideal for parties, with guests easily able to move between the kitchen, living room and dining room. And the kitchen is popular with the kids in their lives. The couple is active in Sinai Temple, and Rob teaches the Torah to young people there. “We call them our honorary grand-students,” Diane said. “They’re here a lot – there may be as many as six in the banquette.”

The Ores are also close with both rabbis and their children. “A lot of times, the children will come and hang out with me,” Diane said. “It’s homey, warm and welcoming. Kids like it here.”

The Ores had the same Darcy Bean designer who worked with them on their kitchen remodel Diane’s bathroom as well. “She sort of knew my taste already,” Diane said. “I wanted something soothing and calming too.”

The bathroom was decorated with the small square blue tiles that were so popular in the 1970s. “Everything was blue,” Diane said.

The designer tried to discourage Diane from using red in the bathroom, too, but Diane insisted that was what she wanted. “We carried over everything from the kitchen,” Diane said.

One of Diane’s favorite features are the shower’s two showerheads, one of which is handheld. Another is a heated towel rack that she uses often in the winter. There are also floor temperature controls and a heated bench in the shower. The thermostat even gives the outside weather and forecast, so Diane knows how to dress for the day at the touch of a button.

A foot of space was taken off of the bedroom, and the former dressing room was updated to include a walk-in closet. The closet has built-in drawers for items like jewelry. “I have more drawers than I have ever had,” she said. “They’re just the right size.”

The Ores are pleased with how their home turned out. “I think we’re down with the renovations,” Diane said. “It’s just perfect for us.”

Diane advises other homeowners considering renovations to be patient and flexible. “Home renovation is not for the faint of heart,” she said. “You have to be patient. When you’re putting so many different pieces together, it’s like a puzzle. Tell people what you need up front. If you have time constraints or design choices, let it be known. Try to do as much up-front planning as you can. The process is stressful, but the product is worth it.”

Diane suggests relying on a designer and construction crew for opinions and advice. “His (Bean’s) approach was so open and honest,” she said. “Darcy’s had a lot of experience and knows what he’s doing. The people who work for him are top notch.”

People now associate Diane with her kitchen. “I love my kitchen,” she said. “I’m spoiled. I’m blessed.”