Beckoning Ocean Breezes in Bay Village
Homeowners Bring Island Lifestyle to Lake Erie

By Beth A. Kapes

Maybe it was the tropical state of mind the Jimmy Buffett concert put them in the night before, or possibly their yearning for Caribbean-like breezes that lured them to the just-listed lakefront home in Bay Village. Whatever the influence may have been, once stepping foot inside, the couple knew they were on their way home.

Even though there was no intention of leaving their long-established address in nearby Lakewood, it was the Lake Road Dutch colonial’s charm and location that won this native Northeast Ohio couple over – and within 24 hours, the home was theirs. While dreams of renovating began to inspire, these were temporarily put on hold as the country reeled from the attacks of September 11 just days after their purchase. Yet, this very frightening time only caused them to embrace a new life on the water by taking steps toward restoring and embellishing the home with personal touches to fit their lifestyle.

They admit that their first goal was to make Lake Erie their playground with the addition of a seawall and boatlift at the bottom of the home’s multi-level deck and sloping, lush 525-foot deep yard. Once their boat’s dock was complete, architect Mark Chernisky, of Chernisky Residential Designs, set out to redesign the 1923 home’s structure. With a plan in hand, the couple began their own demolition of the entire interior and exterior on Labor Day of 2003. This was not to be an easy task, with nine dumpsters of debris leaving the site, including the removal of the original boiler that ran through the middle of the home’s four floors.

The primary goal was an open floor plan that would allow for unparalleled views of the water from each room – a space that would welcome the couple’s 40-plus family members and countless friends for memorable gatherings. In addition to removing and relocating walls to open the kitchen and dining areas, space was increased through a two-story addition that would house a family room and a second-level master bath. While nothing from the home’s original workings could be saved due to age, the homeowners knew they wanted to maintain the structure’s façade and design, including the back porch that was compromised due to sinking joist supports.

Guided by Patrick Kilbane of MK Masonry, tradesmen transformed and enhanced the home throughout the next 10 months, including the addition of an interior foyer and front porch featuring an updated stone fascia. As every internal mechanism of the home received a much-needed update, the true transformation was taking place through details that truly represented the homeowners’ vision and love for life. While skilled craftsman added elements such as a coffered ceiling in the family room and intricate moldings throughout, Lee Meier Interiors was developing special touches that would make the couple’s house a home. A full-service West Side interior design firm, Lee Meier Interiors had been delivering unique looks for homes, businesses and commercial spaces for over 40 years, and it was this history and the firm’s Principal in Charge of Design and Owner, Paul McClure, Allied Member, A.S.I.D., that combined the home’s potential with the homeowners’ dreams to convey the ultimate end result. “One of Paul’s greatest strengths is tapping into the emotional connection each client has, and wants to convey, with their living space,” said Kim Mager, Marketing Manager for Lee Meier Interiors. “With over 25 years of experience, he has the industry knowledge and expertise to see out unique elements, from custom furniture, lighting, artwork and accessories to add that extra layer of personality, capturing the mood, feeling or style of the client.”

‘Capturing the mood’ became the operative phrase as each design element was introduced in the home. Starting where the hub of entertaining would occur, the kitchen emits warmth through cherry cabinetry and island base, all topped with distinct Persia granite and grounded with porcelain tile set in a Versailles pattern. Across from the central island, complete with a tucked away microwave and convection oven, glass front doors on the wet bar’s upper cabinetry are lit from within to display special pieces the couple have collected over the years. In addition to a porcelain backsplash inset with stainless accents, top-of-the-line appliances were a must for the couple that admits their love of cooking was the reason for the remodel, allowing them to serve special meals to family and friends at dinner parties – both inside and on their spacious deck during warm summer evenings.

While the kitchen welcomes its guests with strategically-placed counter stools that offer lakefront views that skirt the downtown skyline and a just-a-swivel-away picture window that allows glimpses of a stone waterfall and pond built by the owners, its what lays beyond that captures the eye and evokes interest at every turn. Case in point: the hallway leading from the kitchen to the upstairs is elegantly covered with a red wallpaper enhanced by a gold fleur-de-lis pattern, but as the paper ends toward the dining room entrance, the fun begins. Local artist, Andy Bruckman, sketched an iguana known as “Isabel” to subtly end the paper and enhance the homeowner’s light-hearted approach to life. Just around the corner, the animal theme continues with a small, luxurious powder room whose walls are adorned with a frog and lizard wall cover design by Taibaut and a rough-cut granite bowl sink complimented by antique-reproduction dolphin wall sconces, a mini-crystal chandelier and monkey-butt tissue holder.

Once entering the dining room, the eye is immediately drawn to the ceiling. Knowing the couple’s love for the tropics, McClure had Bruckman work his magic on a dramatic mural complete with ripped-edged banana tree leafs. Taking just three days to complete, the mural represents sultry nights and is enhanced by an impressive Chelsea House crystal chandelier that enchants diners from their seats below with its hand polished lead crystals and cobalt glass accents, a reproduction from the collection of the Russian Czar’s palace. Not to miss a detail, the wall color in both the dining room and adjacent living room was inspired by a sunset the couple enjoyed during a trip to Kapalua Bay – giving the same glowing effect throughout the space overlooking the water in Ohio, a view expanded by the large living room window.

“Lee Meier Interiors’ designers are passionate about using local artists and craftsmen, which can add a truly unique and custom feel to any design project, on any budget,” Mager explained. “This can be seen through the combination of whimsical and traditional touches that made this lakefront home complete.”

Further tropical touches are enjoyed in the nearby step-down family room, with the coffered ceiling, spaces finished with wallpaper replicating seagrass and bamboo furnishings by Lane Venture. Original oak woodwork was painted white throughout the home, while the living room maintains the original fireplace, which was restored by another local artisan, Michael Jablonski Custom Woodworking in Cleveland. A design driven by the size of the homeowners’ favorite oil painting, Jablonski crafted the mantle within inches of the artwork’s dimensions in addition to adding unfilled limestone and fabricated trim where the fleur-de-lis pattern is repeated in inset accents.

When approaching the second floor, personal touches abound. With an eye to the past, grave rubbings from Westminster Abbey completed by the homeowner’s parents take center stage along the hall that leads to a home office complete with a dramatic original oil painting of a leopard overlooking the space. Just beyond, a full bath is encased in sea glass-like colors through white porcelain broken joint set, wave deco tile on surrounding walls and again on the floor that are highlighted by a Schumacher mosaic fish theme wallpaper. These same serene colors are used throughout the diagonal guest bedroom.

A spacious master suite that spans the entire length of the back of the house lies steps away with a complete wall of windows, which face the lake and allow for beneficial views from the bed and continue into the adjoining master bath. Here, a large sunken tub makes the most of the view as does the glass walls of the large walk-in shower. The entire space is bathed in palm frond wallpaper and intricate porcelain tile work. Special touches are seen in the amber glass hardware that accentuates the dark wood vanity and a large walk-in closet pays attention to organization through ample shelving. In the central bar area souvenirs from trips to the tropics and beyond fill the walls.

With the enduring emphasis to fun, this couple will continue in their home along the lake. With a nod to their favorite group The Beatles’ famous lyrics, these two have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead – and it’s here that they always know they’re on their way home.

Preserving Pieces of Lakefront Living

The Bay Village lakefront home featured is a part of history that began long before it was built in 1923. While waterfront homes on Lake Road today conjure images of the good life, this property and much of the surrounding shoreline was originally used to farm fruits, vegetables and miles of grape vineyards from the city’s beginnings in the early 1800s. As time progressed, pieces of farms were sold, allowing for homes to be established.

Interestingly, the featured home came to be due to the desire of two brothers to develop their dream along the lake in Bay Village, building two “sister houses” side by side, mirror images of the other. Daniel W. Jones, the Treasurer of The Cuyahoga Company built his gambrel shaped roof home in 1923. During the same year, his brother Paul D. Jones, a Vice President of The Guarantee Title and Trust Co., constructed his Dutch colonial next door, according to William Krause, Archivist, Bay Village Historical Society. At that time, the yards facing the lakeside were ample, in addition to yards of sandy beach for the Jones’ family’s enjoyment. While time and erosion has changed much of the landscape, the connection to the past will remain due to the efforts of today’s homeowners who are preserving pieces of dreams built years ago.

Note to the reader: Look for our upcoming story of the restoration of the Bay Village featured home’s “sister house!”

Back to the top >