If you had asked self-taught designer Nikki Lloyd and her husband, Ryan Whaley, five years ago if they would ever return to their hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, the answer would have been “Not a chance.” But “each time we came home to see family, we began to see a neighborhood on the rebound, and we really wanted to become part of it,” says Lloyd.
The couple moved to the quaint lakeside town and spent in a dilapidated late-1800s construction in the heart of downtown Sandusky. The construction was a wreck, but Lloyd has made an art from taking diamonds from the rough and creating shiny gems. She had improved a ho-hum prefab house near Breckenridge, Colorado, along with also a teardown-turned-charming-cottage in suburban Ohio.
But never had she handled a job with such a background as her new home, after an early-1900s high-end bordello known as The Green Door.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Nikki Lloyd and Ryan Whaley
Location: Sandusky, Ohio
Size: 1,500-square-foot loft, plus a 750-square-foot office plus a 750-square-foot cocktail bar; 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
BEFORE: The couple needed to keep the gritty exterior of the building intact. They mostly added two new doorways and resealed the windows.
AFTER: It required a lot of vision to see any future for the relic, but Lloyd along with a close team of family and local contractors spent a year gutting the 3,300-square-foot construction, restoring it to a multifunctional construction. Whaley’s media company occupies a 750-square-foot upstairs office area. There’s a 1,500-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft, and along the street-facing front a little, pre-Prohibition craft cocktail bar aptly called The Volstead is set to start in late 2013.
BEFORE: At first glance Lloyd and Ryan (shown here) understood that they were hauled down a bear of a job. Lloyd needed to reach the bones of the construction to find out what needed to be done.
The carpeting was the first to go, revealing the need to substitute the floors on the first floor. After that, Lloyd took down the trim, plaster and doors, which entailed a few heavy hammers and crowbars, and a lot of elbow grease. Following the trim and doors came down.
AFTER: In the living room, the ceilings called for a dramatic bookcase screen. Instead of having a custom entertainment center built, the couple added a set of four 79 bookshelves from Ikea stacked two high on both sides of the front-facing tv.
Table, seat, shelving: Ikea; chairs: Overstock.com
BEFORE: Upstairs they demolished seven bedrooms with closets and 2 bathrooms; five bedrooms and one bathroom.
AFTER: Under the staircase Lloyd placed a dining table with a seat and metallic chairs that may be scooted out during large parties. “This was the best way I could utilize the space and afford us a formal dining setting for hosting dinners with friends and family,” she says.
The staircase is one of the key focal points you see when entering. To achieve a glossy, dramatic appearance, Lloyd scrapped a former single-column staircase from the original construction. She moved the upstairs design to allow for a bigger main room, but also to provide a multilevel staircase to sit right in the entry to the loft. “Structurally and it had to look trendy,” she says. “The treads are from a 300-year-old barn that was ripped down, and we added suspension wire to give it an updated, urban appearance.”
Shelves, mantel: Ikea
While Lloyd would have liked to invest more in various areas of the loft, she had to work within the parameters of a tight budget, which meant picking and choosing where to splurge and where to save.
In addition to the significant redesign of the staircase, which was rather costly, the kitchen was another splurge space. “It’s where everyone spends all the time, including myself. I really like cooking,” Lloyd says. From custom cabinetry and a stainless steel bar top to a gas cooktop, a double oven, a kettle filler, LG appliances plus a stainless hood vented through the building’s old smoke stack, Lloyd outfitted the space with everything she could possibly want for simple entertaining.
Bar stools: Overstock.com; refrigerator, cooktop: LG; hood: Arietta, Home Depot
Considering that the urbanesque brick walls of the historical construction, Lloyd’s focus instantly went to an open-space loft. The construction was just 15 feet wide, without a load-bearing walls, which gave her the idea to completely open up the space.
“We wanted loft-style living to allow for more natural light to disperse throughout the first floor,” says Lloyd, who admits it today forces her husband to be tidier. “Because our master bedroom is in a wide-open area, we must make our bed every day and keep our filthy clothes picked up.”
The only doors in the entire area are on bathrooms, closets and the guest bedroom. “We really wanted to let our visitors privacy when they visited,” Lloyd says.
To create more space for a first-floor guest toilet and an adjoining laundry room, she spent in an expansion along the rear of the building. She opted for a historic-meets-modern feel, using simplicity to breathe spaciousness into the floor plan while at the exact same time blending from the comforts necessary for his or her lifestyle.
“I wanted to embrace the history of the construction too,” she says, which meant hammering away endless levels of inches-thick plaster to expose the original brick walls; they give a rich personality to the overall design and feel of the house. Throughout demolition Lloyd also saved the old 6-inch trim, painting it off-white to give the little living space a grand feel.
Chandelier: Lowe’s; dressers: Ashley Furniture; fan: Home Depot
Lloyd’s doctrine on frugality is that “budget items do not need to be dull,” she says. In reality, she seems at being resourceful as a challenge. Downstairs from the laundry room and guest bathroom addition, Lloyd chosen for a grey metallic workbench from Home Depot to use with a vessel sink for the main vanity.
She utilized a basic inexpensive white subway tile for the majority of the shower area, accenting it with a mosaic of costly multicolored tiles ($11.99 per square foot). To complete the look, she opted for a moderately priced faux-wood tile ($2.99 per square foot) along the far side of the wall.
She used leftover laminate wood flooring panels up behind the toilet sink and mirror to expand the appearance of the faux-wood tiles in the shower.
Workbench: Home Depot; light fixtures; CB2; farmhouse sink: Overstock.com
The upstairs portion of the front part of the building became the main office for Whaley’s networking company. They built an expansive second-story deck that connects the loft as well as the office doors, developing a stress-free morning commute.
In the 750-square-foot office area, the couple wanted to have a relaxed sense where ideas could flow just like the only beer faucet they set up in the kitchenette. “We wanted an office that you would feel like hanging out in at any given time of the day, and everyone was welcome,” says Lloyd.
The floors are original. They were simply scrubbed and coated with polyurethane. (If you look carefully, you can still see where the previous walls stood from the brothel rooms.)
For furniture they relied on what the construction had already provided them. The conference table is made from beams in the ceiling of the building and the old 2-by-4 wall studs from the demolition. They fitted old antique doors with glass shirts for your office desks and additional vintage 1950s orange chairs for guests.
Both are currently focusing on finishing their street-level bar, The Volstead, in the front of the building. Sandusky’s history includes a chapter from the 1920s, where it was a significant port for running illegal spirits throughout the lake from Canada throughout Prohibition. In honor of the city’s place in American spirit history, the bar will feature a curated collection of craft cocktails, fine wines and local beers.
Interior design and design: Nikki Lloyd
General builder: Ken Russ (Lloyd’s cousin), Legends General Contracting