Four years ago, Anne Hartnett was bicycling on West 47th Street with her then-fiance Andy, looking for a new home, when they spotted a dilapidated Ohio City workman's cottage.
The character of the abandoned dwelling, constructed in 1915, intrigued Hartnett, a Lakewood native. They peered in the windows, and saw neglect and opportunity.
"This is the one," she said.
The 900-square-foot foreclosure smelled of mildew and cigarettes, its pine floors badly splintered. "I could see its potential through the grime and old stripping wallpaper," says Hartnett, owner of Harness Cycle in Ohio City.
The couple secured a $57,000 loan that covered the home's $22,000 cost and nearly $35,000 in improvements. They enlisted her cousin and Peninsula Architects owner Joseph
Matava to design blueprints for the urban remodel.
"I thought Anne was crazy," says Matava. "But she had a vision for turning this beater ranch into this cool urban space."
He whittled the seven-room, single-story house into an open floor plan with a generous kitchen, master bedroom, two bathrooms and a loft. A blue-gray shade replaced the home's lime green exterior. Superfluous upstairs walls were eliminated, and weight-bearing beams were added to expose the pyramid-shaped ceiling.
Soft natural light now bathes the house, with a calming interior color palette of gray and white enhancing its laid-back cottagey feel.
The homeowners repurposed an old 2-by-4 interior wall into a shelf in the sitting room. A reclaimed wooden library ladder leads to a 150-square-foot guest loft. A heavy-duty kitchen countertop was once a bowling alley lane, and a barn door slides along the half-bath's entrance. Hartnett even recovered a display case from Banyan Tree in Tremont to serve as a shoe rack.
The salvaged materials reinforce the home's example of beauty in preservation.
"This house is an outgrowth of Anne's passion about Cleveland and its history," Matava says.
The home's most coveted feature, in Hartnett's opinion, is the nicked wide-plank espresso hardwood floors.
"I fell in love with them, but we were told they weren't salvageable," Hartnett says. "So we applied some heavy coats of sealant, stained, sanded and saved the original floors."
Contemporary design elements such as stainless steel appliances, bathroom subway tiles and white Ikea cabinets cozy up with the reincarnated items.
"We got the kitchen cabinet handles from our honeymoon in Bali," says Hartnett. "Antiques there are thousands of years old."
The two moved next door after having their baby son and now rent the home to Hartnett's employee, Nina Dvorak.
"I love how the light fills the room at sunset," Dvorak says. "This home is a little secret in Cleveland."
Forget the glitzy chandelier. The Hartnetts' envisioned the main room's centerpiece would shed light on their passion for biking. So Anne fashioned a lampshade with bike wheels. "We got the idea from the Greenhouse Tavern, with all its bike decor," she says. She ordered the lampshade fabric from a New Hampshire general store and found the bike wheels at a Hudson barn sale. When it came time to hang the finished product, Anne was pregnant as she held up the light fixture while Andy affixed it to the wood beam. She looked up and realized they didn't screw in the bulbs. "We had to break a wheel spoke so we could change the bulbs," she says. "But you can barely tell."