December 2020

Flipping the Script: Proving that no house is too dated to be saved, this Long Cove Club refresh by RCH Construction is a masterpiece of renovation.

Author: Barry Kaufman

Toby Chod is no stranger to flipping a house. In her native St. Louis, she’s turned around her share of homes, updating and tweaking them to bring them in line with modern sensibilities. With this house in Long Cove Club, however, the situation was slightly different. She wasn’t just flipping this for a profit. This is to be her forever home.

“It had great bones; it just needed updating,” she said. “I love the whole house. It’s the perfect size, and when the kids come,we all pile in.”It may have had great bones, but Chod may be understating how much the home
needed updating. On the simple side of things were color choices—much of the main living spaces were bathed in a shade of salmon that borders on Pepto Bismol. That salmon crept into the kitchen, contrasting if not outright clashing with the deep earthen countertops.

“It was a dark house when we bought it,” Chod said. The kitchen in particular desperately needed to be pulled out of the late 1990s. “It had two heavy brown islands and one small brown island with an orange stone top … I wanted to lighten it up.”

Working with interior designer Heather Cherichella, Chod selected a more neutral palette, which not only brightens and opens up the space, it makes it easier to display art. But the biggest issue was not color, but space. Hugh Hobus of RCH Construction was brought in to help update the home’s actual bones.
Priority one was to get rid of the great room’s second fireplace. You read that correctly.

“Everybody has different tastes, but it seems like right now people want open space,” Hobus said, diplomatically, of the need for two fireplaces 22 feet apart. “Getting rid of that was easily the most dramatic change. That opened up that whole space.”

Removing the second fireplace opened the great room to the kitchen, which benefited greatly from Hobus’ expertise, Cherichella’s eye, and Chod’s willingness to tear down a few things. The dual islands came out, replaced by a solid slab of stone that incorporates both a prep sink and a five-burner chef’s range into the center of the space. Cabinets along one wall that had boxed in a window were removed, replaced with a tile backsplash that stretched to the ceiling surrounded by floating shelving. The result is a remarkably airier space.

“It used to be people didn’t want to see the kitchen, but now kitchens have become a focal point of the living space,” Hobus said. “With people entertaining, they want the kitchen to be a part of it.”

The kitchen transformation wasn’t entirely a matter of subtraction. “I didn’t have a pantry; I had an alcove in the hallway, and they built me a whole closet with shelves,” Chod said. “Their carpenter is the best. He built the whole pantry.”

Another spot in the house that saw a dramatic transformation was the master bath. How dated was the master bath before the renovations, you ask? We have four words for you: Curved. Glass. Block. Shower. That and the Spanish tiles on the old tub’s deck lent the space an almost 1970s vibe, which was happily jettisoned.
In stark contrast, the master bathroom post-renovation is delightfully open and airy, with the shower now encased in glass(boasting a state-of-the-art misting shower,by the way) and the tub now a free-standing soaker amid updated stone tile floors.

“It came out much better,” Chod said, somewhat understating the gorgeous transformation this space enjoyed.
“Like anything else, the kitchen and master bath are what sells a home. She did a great job designing that,” Hobus said. “It really put the wow factor back into that house.”

Of course, if this were a normal flip, Chod may have stopped there. But this was to be her forever home, a place where her four kids and five grandkids could come together as a family. Reimagining this home was about far more important things than profit.

“I didn’t want any fancy rooms,” Chod said. “With five grandkids, if you’re worried about the house, you’re not having fun.”

Designing the home for family fun meant doing away with the stuffiness of the old interior, but it also meant creating a place for everyone to bunk up for the night. Taking that quite literally, Chod had the carriage house over the garage converted into a bunkhouse, with queen-over-king beds that could accommodate adults if need be. And when the whole family gets toge-ther, they will get to enjoy a home thathas undergone a truly startling transformation.

“Working with Hugh was very rewarding,” Chod said. “He was easy to communicate with, and he really accomplished the vision I was looking towards.”

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