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

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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Ray White’s chief economist outlines her predictions for housing market trends in 2024

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Nov 28, 2023 2 min

Ray White’s chief economist, Nerida Conisbee says property price growth will continue next year and mortgage holders will need to “survive until 2025” amid expectations of higher interest rates for longer.

Ms Conisbee said strong population growth and a housing supply shortage combatted the impact of rising interest rates in 2023, leading to unusually strong price growth during a rate hiking cycle. The latest CoreLogic data shows home values have increased by more than 10 percent in the year to date in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Among the regional markets, price growth has been strongest in regional South Australia with 8.6 percent growth and regional Queensland at 6.9 percent growth.

“As interest rates head close to peak, it is expected that price growth will continue. At this point, housing supply remains extremely low and many people that would be new home buyers are being pushed into the established market,” Ms Conisbee said. “Big jumps in rents are pushing more first home buyers into the market and population growth is continuing to be strong.”

Ms Conisbee said interest rates will be higher for longer due to sticky inflation. “… we are unlikely to see a rate cut until late 2024 or early 2025. This means mortgage holders need to survive until 2025, paying far more on their home loans than they did two years ago.”

Buyers in coastal areas currently have a window of opportunity to take advantage of softer prices, Ms Conisbee said. “Look out for beach house bargains over summer but you need to move quick. In many beachside holiday destinations, we saw a sharp rise in properties for sale and a corresponding fall in prices. This was driven by many pandemic driven holiday home purchases coming back on to the market.”

3 key housing market trends for 2024

Here are three of Ms Conisbee’s predictions for the key housing market trends of 2024.

Luxury apartment market to soar

Ms Conisbee said the types of apartments being built have changed dramatically amid more people choosing to live in apartments longer-term and Australia’s ageing population downsizing. “Demand is increasing for much larger, higher quality, more expensive developments. This has resulted in the most expensive apartments in Australia seeing price increases more than double those of an average priced apartment. This year, fewer apartments being built, growing population and a desire to live in some of Australia’s most sought-after inner urban areas will lead to a boom in luxury apartment demand.”

Homes to become even greener

The rising costs of energy and the health impacts of heat are two new factors driving interest in green homes, Ms Conisbee said. “Having a greener home utilising solar and batteries makes it cheaper to run air conditioning, heaters and pool pumps. We are heading into a particularly hot summer and having homes that are difficult to cool down makes them far more dangerous for the elderly and very young.”

More people living alone

For some time now, long-term social changes such as delayed marriage and an ageing population have led to more people living alone. However, Ms Conisbee points out that the pandemic also showed that many people prefer to live alone for lifestyle reasons. “Shorter term, the pandemic has shown that given the chance, many people prefer to live alone with a record increase in single-person households during the time. This trend may influence housing preferences, with a potential rise in demand for smaller dwellings and properties catering to individuals rather than traditional family units.”


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