One of the oldest homes in Ohio is being lovingly restored, and the owners are glad they hired the DreamMaker remodeling franchise to restore the most historic part of the home
Kelly and Thomas Valuska have made a 200-year-old former stagecoach stop along the Ohio River their home for the past 16 years. As their family has grown — they now have two daughters, age 9 and 11 — they’ve slowly updated the house to suit their lifestyle. But they’ve been determined to maintain the home’s historic character.
The 3,000-square-foot home has been expanded several times, but at its heart is one 200-year-old room that evidence suggests was the original one-room house. It is now used as the kitchen, but until this spring, the kitchen’s historic appeal belonged entirely to the 1970s, when it was last updated.
The Valuskas were ready to bring back its historic charm while adding modern amenities.
“I had done a lot of research and pretty much knew what I wanted in my head,” Kelly says of the kitchen. In February she contacted Steve Miller, owner of the DreamMaker franchise in Mansfield, Ohio, for help in turning her vision into a reality.
“I really wanted to keep the old wood as much as possible,” Kelly says. “You can see the stress marks on it from the years of wear and tear, and it’s just amazing. I didn’t want to lose that.”
To retain the historic charm, Steve and his team kept and restored the wood around the window frames. They redid the drywall and updated the plumbing. They also removed linoleum to reveal hardwood floors that were original to the Colonial-era home.
“There were about 3,000 itsy bitsy nails holding down that linoleum,” Kelly says. “It was an amazing amount of work. The poor guy working on the floor was so great, he said for a job this size he would usually use one pad of sandpaper, but for this job he used five,” Kelly says.
The effort was worth it, according to Steve, who noted that the original wood floor shows warmth and character, including the original rectangular nails used to install it. “It turned out awesome,” he says.
Other challenges the house’s age lent to the renovation were the fact that all of the walls in the house are triple-core brick, which means there’s no space for electrical or stove venting to run.
“New electric was a challenge, as you can’t run it through the walls. It either has to come from the basement or the attic, and be hidden behind things on the wall,” Kelly says. “Steve worked to find solutions and was amazing during the whole thing. We couldn’t do venting for the stove, so he suggested the ventless system, which I love.”
Because the kitchen is on the west side of the house, making the room as light as possible was a priority for Kelly, who wanted to shift away from a dark, shadow-filled kitchen.
“We did quartz countertops, white cabinets, and all new stainless steel appliances,” she says.
“The kitchen is really the gathering place for us, so it was important to get this room right,” she says. “Every single holiday, everybody lives in there.”
The entire project took about 9 weeks, and Steve’s constant communication and professionalism meant there were no surprises, none of the “uh-oh” moments that often occur when renovating an old house.
“It was effortless because Steve was so organized,” Kelly says. “My big thing was I wanted to be done by the first week in May because summers are a big deal for us. We camp and have so many activities. I wanted everything done before the girls got out of school, and Steve fulfilled that for me.”
Kelly was concerned that completely redoing a room that’s used every day by the family would be an unpleasant experience, but found Steve and his crew a pleasure to have on site.
“They did not disrupt our crazy busy family, which I appreciated,” Kelly says. “The guys were all so professional and I felt really comfortable with having my girls there while it was going on. They covered everything in plastic and cleaned up after themselves.”
Even though Kelly had been thinking about redoing the kitchen for a long time and had a good idea of what she wanted to do, she appreciated the input offered by Steve and Gary Schrock, the sales manager at DreamMaker.
“They were fantastic as far as the fine details, from color schemes to materials,” Kelly says. “But they weren’t trying to change my mind, either. They weren’t pushy, but very helpful.”
Kelly was so pleased with the job done by DreamMaker, she’s already talking to Steve about having his team add a new porch to the house on the kitchen side.
“It’s exactly what I envisioned in my head, but better,” she says.
And for this 70-acre hobby farm, where the Valuska’s keep horses, cows, and pigs, the kitchen truly is the heart of this historic home.