Hip Roof House Tour Renovating Kitchen
“I think I made the kitchen better than it would have been in the ’50s with customized materials,” says architect Karen Lantz. Her choices include stock cabinets, granite countertops, glass mosaic tile backsplashes, a Frigidaire refrigerator and refinished red oak floors. Jamaica stools from Knoll offer seating at the Pottery Barn worktable and, overhead, two Droog pendants add style. In the adjoining dining room, Frank Gehry chairs at a B&B Italia table and family silver. The grass cloth–covered walls help mask an ever-returning crack courtesy of Houston’s gumbo-like clay soil.

Renovating their ranch started innocently enough. “One night we unscrewed the threshold to the kitchen and tugged at it until we saw what we thought was wood,” says Karen Lantz, a Houston-based architect. “We pulled some more and confirmed there was oak flooring underneath three layers of vinyl.”

So began a “while-we’re-at-it” whole-house renovation of a 1954 traditional brick ranch in Braes Heights, 15 minutes from downtown Houston. As she explained to her husband, Andy Farkas, if they were bringing the floor back, that would be the time to change the layout of the kitchen and repair damage from dishwasher leaks.

“It snowballed from there. I told Andy if I cleaned up the floor plan of the house we could have a bigger bathroom, more storage space and correct a bad circulation plan,” she explains. Renovating the kitchen, guest bath, master bath and home theater followed. The couple also replumbed with PVC to fix failing pipe connections (Houston’s gumbo-like clay soil makes for lots of foundation movement) and installed a radiant shield in the attic to help with solar gain issues. Oh, and they replaced the drywall in the entire house to add insulation.

“I know it sounds crazy and it was a huge mess, but we were able to get grounded wires to the home theater equipment and office,” Lantz drawls with a laugh. “It also allowed us to get smooth walls—much better than 50-year-old Sheetrock with bumps and cracks that are difficult to hide. Smooth walls were important to hang our art on.”

With the major spaces renovated and refreshed, it was time to fill their home with the pieces they loved. Check back for part 2 to see how Lantz and Farkas displayed their extensive art collection, and get some advice on collecting art for your own home!