A 1920s Tudor designed by Edward Tanner is transformed into the perfect home for a young couple and their children
Two years ago Katie and Jay Longhauser were looking for a new home. They were expecting their second baby and needed more living space and a larger lot. While they knew they could find what they needed in a newer development, they wanted to stay closer to the heart of the city. As things sometimes happen with families and houses, fate brought them a well-tended Tanner Tudor that met all of their needs.
“We had a couple of things that were important to us. In our last house, the master bedroom was on the first floor. I really wanted all the bedrooms to be on the same level,” says Katie Longhauser. She thought she had hit the mark when she discovered a gracious Tudor in Milhaven. “The house was a little dated and I wanted to make some changes, ” Longhauser says.
Built in 1926, the house was designed by well-known and respected local architect Edward Tanner. The previous owner had added a thoughtful kitchen and master bedroom addition several years ago. “We modified the kitchen design a little. We cut down the island, changed the windows and updated appliances,” says Longhauser.Katie and Jay Longhauser with Jack, 2, and Nora, 4.
The couple hired Noblit Didier Design and Build to make the larger changes. Katie’s mother, Patty Kincaid, helped with the selection of furniture and rugs, while Zakk Hoyt, of The Polished Rake and a designer at Nell Hill’s in Briarcliff, aided in styling and accessorizing. “He really helped us pull everything together,” she says.
Beyond the kitchen spiff up, the couple wanted to modify some of the existing space. “There was a greenhouse off of the kitchen that we liked, but it wasn’t in good shape and we decided for safety reasons to take it out,” Longhauser says. The space is now a covered patio that opens to the side yard and has a view of the original farmhouse on the land. “The story goes that the original owner of our house was the sister of the wife who lived there. Supposedly, they had tea in the side yard regularly.”
The couple also converted a screened porch on the other side of the house into a mudroom with a washer and dryer and ample space for the children’s coats, shoes, dog beds and leashes.
The room the family uses for dining is original to the house, and the paneling, fireplace and woodwork are still as Tanner designed. “We have the original plans,” Longhauser says. “So we know what is original and what was added later.” The previous owner had older children and used the space as a billiard room. “The paneling was sort of an orange color,” she says. They decided to paint the woodwork gray, which gives the room a modern feel while respecting its pedigree.
The piano room at the front of the house was part of a previous addition. “The leaded windows came from a home near Loose Park that was torn down in the ’60s or ’70s,” says Longhauser. The fireplace wasn’t functioning, so they installed a new one, making the room a cozy and quiet escape.
Just beyond the piano room is a sunny room complete with large windows overlooking the yard. Likely the original dining room, the space serves as a study now and homework haven for the children later. “My contractor encouraged me to close up this pass through,” says Longhauser. “But I thought it would be a great way to keep an eye on the kids while they are on the computer someday.”
Upstairs, the master bedroom is a peaceful retreat with charcoal walls and neutral bedding. Both children’s rooms have space for playing alone or with friends. A former sleeping porch decorated with the children’s artwork serves as a playroom, but may make way for a media room as they get older. “I want them to have a place where they can hang out with their friends,” Longhauser says.
While the Longhausers have updated the house to meet their family’s needs, they have great respect for its past. They’ve framed the original blueprints and hung them around the walls of the study. As only its fourth owners, they are dedicated stewards of its history and evolution.
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