Julie and Leonard Nachman were settled comfortably into their empty nest in Walnut Hills when, in a few short years, their family grew from five to 16.
It all started when their three children got married in three years.
“In 2009, our first grandchild was born, and in the last six years, we have been blessed with seven more,” Julie Nachman said. “It seemed as if many small birdies were returning to our nest.”
The Nachmans had lived in their home for almost 40 years. They loved their neighborhood and their house, but they wanted to adapt it for children and grandchildren, who all lived in the area.
What they did was to create two houses within a house, one formal and one casual.
The home, built in 1954 by Dr. Tommy and Laura Thompson, was “reflective of the times,” Julie Nachman said, with a large formal living room, dining room, sun porch and small TV room.
“Leonard has always loved collecting American antiques, art and oriental rugs, along with things from our parents and grandparents,” she said. “We didn’t want to give up the separate, formal part of our home, but like so many families in today’s world, we now needed a home that functioned better and had a lot more child-friendly space.”
Working with contractor David Andrews and interior designer Rachel Cannon Lewis, the Nachmans kept the formal part of their home intact but completely reconfigured the private rooms to create a separate, more casual area.
They knocked down the walls of a 25-foot hall, a bedroom and a laundry room closet to create one large family room, which adjoins the original kitchen. The old TV room became an extra bedroom/nursery with new closets shelved to accommodate books, toys and baby supplies.
“We stopped short of a totally open plan, keeping the original kitchen self-contained,” Julie Nachman said, “but by removing one bank of upper cabinets, we linked the cooking zone to the living area, and created a handy breakfast bar with enough stools for all of the little ‘birdies.’”
The Nachmans updated their “tired” kitchen with new stainless appliances and changed their countertops to the same Venatino marble that was used on their living room fireplace. They used the space under the stairs to build a pantry with shelves, drawers and “even a special junk food shelf for all our little people,” Julie Nachman said.
They opted to keep the original smallish kitchen rather than do a major expansion. “I am not going to do gourmet cooking,” she said with a smile.
The only actual addition the Nachmans made to the house was a new master bathroom and laundry room. They were careful to make the addition the same size as the 1960s sun porch addition on the opposite side of the home.
“We didn’t want more square footage,” Leonard Nachman said. “The house and the roof line stayed the same.”
The old master bathroom became Julie Nachman’s closet.
“David (Andrews) actually had me count my dresses, blouses, pants, shoes, boots and purses to build just the right customized closet for my particular needs,” she said.
Last summer, the Nachmans added a covered brick patio right off the kitchen.
“The adults can be together in the kitchen-keeping room or the dining room and watch all the children while they have fun outdoors,” she said.
The original part of the home still has its traditional look, developed over many years by interior designer Jo Emmert, while the remodeled part is a combination of traditional and contemporary.
Julie Nachman said she followed the advice to some extent of professionals in doing the update.
“Professionals are great and necessary, but only the folks who actually live in the house day to day with people they love know the needs,” she said.
She said her late mother, Sue Preis, gave her the best advice.
“Mama always said neither friends nor family will ever leave your home and say they had a wonderful time because it was so shiny and new and perfectly decorated,” she said. “Just keep it fun.”