Owners, contractor, and designer collaborate successfully to revitalize 1960s home

At first, Hunt Ray was not on board with interior designer Mary Lou Yeary’s suggestion to take out the ceiling in the entry way of his childhood home.

Knowing the HVAC system was in the way, Hunt, a certified public accountant, wasn’t sure the results would justify the expense of moving it. “It took some convincing,” Peggy Ray recalls. In the end, however, both the mess and money were worth it.

“The entry hall is the most striking,” she said of one element of the 7-month project. “We didn’t realize how ‘enclosed’ it felt until we took it all out.”

The small, galley kitchen hadn’t changed much since 1963, when Hunt’s parents built the two-story brick at 1413 California Park. “Other than the Florida room that they added in 1980, it was pretty much the same as it was when they built it,” Hunt recalls. It, too, needed a facelift.

“We knew we wanted to open it up, so we took out the wall out to the dining room and the wall to the family room and made one big area,” Hunt explained.

The kitchen features a big island with seating for four. It houses a pull-out microwave drawer and a touchless faucet—two must-haves that Peggy didn’t realize she “needed” until she remodeled the kitchen at the couple’s previous address on Gingertree Circle. “I couldn’t live without them now,” she said. The California Park kitchen also has granite countertops and an abundance of cabinetry with bead board accents.

Built to fit the angles of the wall behind it, the kitchen table seats 6. Open to the kitchen, the compact, comfortably furnished family room functions as a gathering room. Peggy spent many hours by the ventless fireplace last winter. “When we had that really cold weather, they kept this house warm,” she added.

Nick Keitz, the contractor who remodeled the first floor of the couple’s previous home, also did the work on the new place. “He’s the same age as our oldest son, so he's young, excited and full of energy. We were so pleased with his work on our other house, we didn’t even talk to anyone else,” Peggy noted.

Before Nick took down the first door, he, Peggy, Hunt, and Mary Lou put their heads together to ponder the question, “How will this house work best for us?” One thing the Rays knew for sure is they want to age in place. “We made it so we can live completely on one floor,” Peggy explained. Almost everything else was open for discussion.

The Rays knew there’d be a day when hauling laundry back and forth from the basement would not be safe or practical. The only debate was how and where to put a laundry room on the main floor. Without changing the home’s footprint, the brain trust of five reconfigured space near the kitchen for a washer and dryer and mud room.

Changes upstairs included updating two bathrooms with new fixtures. In a nod to the home’s heritage, the Rays chose to work with the pink and tan hues of the original wall tile that were popular in the early 60s rather than replace it. “It’s in great shape,” Hunt said. Three large bedrooms that accommodate the couples 7 grandchildren got a fresh coat of the light gray paint used in the rest of the house.

Throughout the process, the couple asked themselves and each other if his mother would have liked the changes. The answer was yes.

“We’ve restored the joy to this house,” Peggy said. “She would have loved it. She would be very happy.”

We’re trying to revitalize. She and he would be very happy.