Their Home Renovation Was Almost Complete. All That Was Missing Was a Turret. | Kanebridge News
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Their Home Renovation Was Almost Complete. All That Was Missing Was a Turret.

The circular tower in Louisville, Ky., capped off an update that was long overdue

By VAISHNAVI NAYEL TALAWADEKAR
Thu, Jan 5, 2023 8:37amGrey Clock 3 min

On a leafy lane in Audubon Park, in Louisville, Ky., sits a house that looks like it could have once belonged to Rapunzel. With a fairy-tale turret and Dutch Colonial Revival architecture, the home stands apart from its neighbors. But when Heather and Stefan Rumancik, both 43, purchased the 1930s home in 2009 for $225,000, it was a far cry from its present-day version.

“We bought the house from its second owners, who had owned it since the 1940s, but the home itself hadn’t been updated in 30 years,” says Mrs. Rumancik, a competitive intelligence executive at a pharmaceutical company, who shares the home with Mr. Rumancik and their daughter, Adrienne.

Although the Rumanciks renovated the original 3,025-square-foot home in parts over the years, the turret remained an unfulfilled wish for Mrs. Rumancik until 2020, when Mr. Rumancik, a builder and general contractor, was forced to pause his business due to the pandemic.

“Our ongoing projects were halted by clients, so it was an ideal time to pivot to working on something that had been kept on the back burner for far too long,” says Mr. Rumancik, adding that the turret addition was appealing both for its aesthetic value and because it challenged him to try something new. For Mrs. Rumancik, the turret was a great way to expand the home’s footprint: She and Mr. Rumancik agreed on having a banquette on the first floor, the primary bathroom shower on the second, and a cocktail tasting room in the basement. They set a budget of $350,000 for the three-story addition.

To help with the architecture of the addition, Mr. Rumancik tapped friend and longtime collaborator, architect Mark Foxworth of Foxworth Architecture, for $35,000. Together, the two sheathed the turret in the same materials as the rest of the house: cedar shakes and Kentucky limestone, the latter removed and repurposed from the home’s exterior. “We made it special by capping it with a copper finial,” says Mr. Rumancik. “I think what’s unique is that you can’t see the turret or the addition from the street. It’s at the back, so the original architecture is really unchanged.” To minimise the extension’s energy consumption, Mr. Foxworth specified insulated concrete forms and high-performance glazing on the windows.

For the interior design of the addition, including the turret and the surrounding spaces, the Rumanciks enlisted Bethany Adams, founder and principal of her eponymous Louisville-based interior design studio, who had previously engaged Mr. Rumancik and his company, Designer Builders Inc., to help renovate her 1897 Victorian home. They agreed on a fee of $35,000, excluding material costs. “We told Ms. Adams to take our ideas and make them better,” says Mrs. Rumancik.

“She proposed layout ideas that we hadn’t thought of, and also simplified some of the structural changes I thought we’d need, which ended up saving us quite a lot of money,” Mr. Rumancik says.

It was important for the Rumanciks that the home’s heritage be honoured. “Audubon Park was developed at the height of the Arts and Crafts movement when there was a true appreciation for the beauty of natural materials,” says Ms. Adams, who introduced a lot of walnut wood, stone, and decorative glass to pay homage to the craftsmanship of that period. To optimise the flow between the addition and the main house, she designed a large vestibule with arched openings leading into the various spokes: namely, the mudroom, the kitchen, the living room, and the hallway.

Additionally, Ms. Adams mirrored the turret architecture in the main home by using curved handles in the bathroom and powder room. “I also used circular mirrors and light fixtures, and there’s a circular motif on the marble bathroom floor too. It’s a subtle reminder of the geometry of the addition,” she says. In the same vein, the original foyer and hallway were painted the same colour as the new kitchen and mudroom. For the floor, Mr. Rumancik installed white oak planks that perfectly matched the rest of the house.

In the kitchen, the turret was built to accommodate a banquette. Mr. Rumancik made the breakfast table himself as a Christmas gift for his wife using walnut wood from his father’s farm in Danville, Ky., and leftover quartzite from the kitchen counters. Ms. Adams arranged for custom navy blue cabinetry, a walnut island, and a bar top, which collectively cost $58,000. She also upholstered the banquette in the same chartreuse fabric as the West Elm bar stools, which cost $500 apiece. The banquette cost a total of $10,000.

For Mr. Rumancik, the tiling of the circular shower walls was an exercise in both mathematical proficiency and patience. “Even though the shower tile came on a mesh backing, many pieces had to be cut and placed individually in order to follow the curve of the walls and afford uniform grout joints. We spent four weeks tiling that shower,” he says.

All in all, the Rumanciks say the 2021 renovation—completed just before the holidays to the tune of $425,000—was compensation for a year gone awry. “Despite the challenges of the previous year, it was quite possibly the best Christmas of all,” says Mrs. Rumancik.

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The Australian capital setting a new record for property value falls

Property values have fallen hard and fast in this popular city, but it’s done little to dent pandemic rises

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Jan 30, 2023 2 min

Highest property values, biggest dip the next. That’s the outcome for Australia’s northernmost capital on the east coast, with Brisbane property values recording their largest and fastest decline, data from Corelogic reveals.

The fall comes just seven months after values hit their peak after a population surge driven by the pandemic saw an increase of 43 percent. Home values hit a record high on June 19, 2022 but have since declined 10.9 percent, in parallel with eight consecutive interest rate rises since April last year.

Historically, peak-to-trough declines in Brisbane have lasted 14 months and have ranged from value drops of -2.9 percent to -10.8 percent. While the new record is just -0.1 percent compared with previous figures, that fall came over 21 months between April 2010 and January 2012. The latest decline was a much swifter seven month drop.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said it is worth putting the Brisbane figures into context with the rest of Australia’s capital cities, as well as considering the significant rise in property values in the Queensland capital over the pandemic.

“Brisbane now stands out as one of two capital city markets with record declines, the other being Hobart,” Ms Owen said. “Sydney continues to have the largest peak-to-trough falls of the capital city markets (currently at -13.8 percent), while peak-to-tough falls remain mild in some cities (such as Perth, where values are down just -1.0 percent from a recent peak in August 2022).” 

“The record fall in Brisbane home values has not made much of a dent in the gains made during the upswing. The fall in the Brisbane daily HVI follows an upswing of 43.5 percent between August 2020 and 19 June 2022, which was the fastest trajectory of rising values on record. This leaves home values across Brisbane 27.9 percent higher than at the previous trough in August 2020.” 

The median dwelling value in Brisbane jumped from $506,553 at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to $707,658 by the end of last year, Ms Owen said.

“Despite the large decline from peak, Brisbane maintains the third highest gain in value of the capital cities since the start of the pandemic,” she said. 

“Only Adelaide and Darwin, which are 42.8 percent and 29.6 percent higher respectively than at the onset of the pandemic, have performed stronger. 

“For this reason, there is marginal risk of negative equity for Brisbane homeowners, with the exception of very recent buyers, who purchased around the peak in June 2022 with less than a 20 percent deposit.” 

However, there are signs of resilience in the market. Brisbane remains a more affordable option compared with the other east coast capitals, Ms Owen said.

Although housing values remain higher than pre-COVID levels, Brisbane retains a lower price point than Sydney, with a $435,170 difference in median house values and $280,749 difference in median unit values,” she said. 

“The gap between Brisbane and Melbourne housing values is also significant, with a $119,697 gap between median house values and $97,692 difference in median unit values.

“This could encourage ongoing housing demand from those willing to migrate to the state, or own an interstate investment.” 

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