More ranch, please: A house grows inside its old footprint

The wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed and replaced with a walnut-topped breakfast bar. Photo: Christian Hommel The wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed and replaced with a walnut-topped breakfast bar. Photo: Christian Hommel

It was a familiar Charlottesville story. The house, a 1960s ranch, boasted a great location near Downtown, but its outdated floor plan needed to be modernized. “It was a lot of square footage but didn’t seem like it when you walked in,” said Scott Abbott, owner of Abbott & Co. General Contractors. “It was your conventional cut-up plan with dedicated dining and a narrow weird kitchen.”

The view from the kitchen reveals the new ceiling, which is 12' high at the ridge, and custom cabinetry. Photo: Christian Hommel
The view from the kitchen reveals the new ceiling, which is 12′ high at the ridge, and custom cabinetry. Photo: Christian Hommel

Abbott’s solution was to not only remove walls—making the separate living, dining, and kitchen areas into one large great room, à la contemporary taste—but to raise the ceilings. Taking off half the house’s roof and installing a new scissor truss system allowed him to create tall, sloped ceilings, 12′ at the highest point. “It made the room look a lot bigger,” he said.

In the new kitchen, the centerpiece is a 14′-long, two-level bar. Its lower countertop, a workspace, is granite, while the upper section is walnut. “It’s a warmer feel,” said Abbott. “This made it wide enough for overflow space for the dining area.”

A look at the room before the renovation.
A look at the room before the renovation.

Custom cabinets in white, with black granite countertops, provide a clean, just-modern-enough look. New wooden floors unify the great room.

Though this was a sweeping renovation, signs of the house’s original character remain.“We like to take some of the best of a house and keep it,” said Abbott. In this case, the original fireplace, with a white brick surround, lends a midcentury vibe to the living room. A similar philosophy is at work in the fact that although the team replaced windows, they didn’t change their placement—meaning the house’s exterior look stayed very similar.

As a final touch, Abbott and his team turned the attached garage into a media room. It’s one more way to bring a city home into the new century.

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