A Contemporary and Cozy Remodel

Amanda Bell
Written by Amanda Bell
Updated July 26, 2016
ranch house
Mary Stanfel at her home in Lake Bluff, Illinois, which has undergone a complete remodel and redesign to make it more modern. (Photo by Gilbert R. Boucher II)

A run-of-the-mill home in the suburbs gets a modern overhaul.

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When Mary Stanfel and her husband, Rich, inherited a house from her parents, they faced a choice: sell it or renovate it. The decided the best option was to update the Lake Bluff, Illinois, home to suit their tastes and lifestyle while honoring the memory of her parents, who had planned to spend their golden years there.

In her search for the perfect contractor, Mary felt an immediate connection to Kevin Badgley, owner of AC Home Design, and the couple hired his team to transform the 2,500-square-foot 1980s-era ranch into an open-concept, modern home. She talks about working with Badgley below.

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Inheriting an outdated ranch

Sadly both my parents passed away within eight months of their moving into this ranch home. My siblings and I inherited the home, and my husband and I were interested in buying it. But we first needed to decide if it was worth modernizing to our tastes or selling it made more sense.

A ranch in this neighborhood isn’t easy to come by, and us being 50, we thought this could be a good house for us to retire in someday. It’s a traditional ranch built in the ‘80s, not conducive to today’s living and not open concept, so for us to live here comfortably, we knew we’d need to remodel every room.

We also inherited my parents’ two dogs, Blue and Oliver, and we have a dog, Angus, and the 3/4-acre fenced-in backyard was much bigger than what we had at our townhouse. We told our friends we are the only 50-year-olds who are upsizing because of animals!

butler's pantry
The handcrafted barn doors separating the butler's pantry and dining room is one of Stanfel's favorite features. (Photo by Gilbert R. Boucher II)

Modernizing while preserving memories

We interviewed two contractors for this job. Kevin came over the day after we called him, and right away I got a vibe that he was part of my tribe. He listened and had ideas that fit with our vision.

I have a modern, contemporary and eclectic style, and I wanted the house to have a fresh, linear, open feeling. However, my parents had owned a horse farm for a long time and were antique collectors. This was their home, so I wanted to keep some of their spirit and not bleach it away.

We wanted to expand the kitchen to three times the size, which would require an addition to the home, and add closets, storage and a much larger, more modern master bath. My husband is also 6-foot-10, so we needed to raise all the doors and doorways to 7 feet.

There are too many “best parts” to name, but my favorite are the handcrafted barn doors Kevin designed and made for the entry from the dining room to the butler’s pantry. They are a work of art. I think of my folks every time I walk past them.

The expanded kitchen required an addition be built onto the house. (Photo by Gilbert R. Boucher II)

Lesson learned: Look for a contractor that listens to you

See who does the talking during the first interview. Are the contractors all about themselves, or am I talking more about my project and they’re listening? Kevin listened a lot and wanted to talk about the project, what we wanted to do and what we wanted to spend. His crew finished it all in four months and we went slightly over budget at $224,000.

Now that it’s finished, our home has so many cozy spots. I love my little office nook where I can have coffee while reading my paperwork. Kevin and his team used reclaimed 1830s barn wood to clad the walls. In the living room, I can share wine with girlfriends on the pink sofa and enjoy the fireplace. The house was gorgeously built, but now it's a home.

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